I went to a dinner party last night. I do not enjoy parties as a whole; I am in no way a diplomatic or really caring person most of the time and so I believe that my fake smiles and fake eyes can be seen from a mile away. I never know what to wear and I hate how stories and memories are told that I have nothing to do with. It makes me feel like an outsider; and last night all this and more happened.
The dinner party was for some teachers and administrators from a local elementary school. All women, they probably all told had about 100 years total experience teaching young children. I am not a teacher, instead I am simply a mother.
Let me start this post by mentioning that I have so much admiration for teachers. The job they do, I simply could not do. It requires patience, and heart, time and sometimes even courage. It requires having inner strength to fight battles each and every day in every possible way; and it requires understanding that no matter how much you fight you may only make a difference for a second. It is a thankless job; and I truly admire those who can do it – year after year, day after day.
The conversation last night revolved a lot about the elementary school. About the kids, the lack of money and the parents. I found myself able to keep my mouth shut only up to a point – and then something in me, that desire to point out complaining versus doing came up and reared its ugly head. And while I understood the frustrations, I did not understand the acceptance.
They talked at length about parents of their students. How frustrating and disheartening it must be to see parents who not only don’t care about their children, but also in some cases abuse and hurt their children. How sad it must be to know that the innocent child in front of you only gets one meal a day, and that is at school – and wonder how that child eats on the weekend. How absolutely heart breaking to know that the choices you have in regards to that child is so limited as to be nightmarish.
But it bothered me that each of the teachers at that table just kept harping on how bad parents are. I imagine that there are some; but I also imagine in this world of two parents working outside the homes at menial jobs, and parents working and worrying about how to pay for their child’s life that the stories aren’t as cut and dry as teachers hope it is. If parents aren’t engaging with their children, if they are dropping their kids off on holidays when the school is closed because they don’t know better, than maybe we should do something to encourage or at least reach out to parents better. If you want to encourage parents to participate in this busy world, speak their language – get to them, quit expecting them to come to you.
We all want to pass the blame to the next person. Parents blame teachers, teachers blame parents and the school system blames everyone. But all we do is complain. Where is the drive to say – nope, this isn’t working, let’s come up with plan B. For instance, in my child’s school, each grade puts on a show at the monthly PTA meeting – know why? To get the parents in the door. They will come, not for the PTA, but to see their child perform. But when there they will hear what the teachers need them to know. This is ingenious – despite the fact I dread the month I have to go for my kid.
The conversation at the table last night then went to money. There is no solution to money – although I dared the ladies sitting at that table to look at the local county budget for 2014, and see how much they are spending on “parties”; there is money, but how do we go get it? But one of the teachers, who has 41 students throughout the day that come to her to get “extra” help, said that her program will end in February for no other reason than money is going to run out. I found this sad; but what I found sadder was later that night having been pointed out where she lives, realizing that she didn’t need money. Her home, by any standard, a mansion, gave the impression that she wasn’t working for a paycheck, but rather because she loves it. And she wouldn’t volunteer her time, as she is retired, because why? She would rather complain than do.
I don’t like people who complain rather than do. I don’t ever know the full story, I freely admit, but maybe, just maybe, if we stopped complaining and blaming our children would be better for it. I am not interested in making lives better for most adults – don’t see the point. But not working for our children? Disgusting. All I could think through the whole conversation was this – once again we are complaining instead of doing. I felt ashamed sitting there.
They moved around and around these topics; how deplorable the situation was in our school system compared to what it once was – I tried to point out that every dinner table in the world has had this same conversation, throughout time, at one point or another. Ask the women of 1800s about the education of their children – who were leaving the farms to work in the cities – and I bet in many ways you would get many of the same words. Change happens whether we prepare for it or not, and yet remarkably despite the fact that those young men in the 1800s wanted to leave their homes for the big cities we still found men like Abraham Lincoln come out of it. There is always an Abraham Lincoln coming; it is the beauty of the human spirit.
I get so frustrated; and I finally ended the conversation last night with the promise to agree to disagree after I quickly figured out that nothing I said about needing change, or leading change would ever penetrate into those teachers minds. They wanted things easy – and life doesn’t work that way. The problem of course, is the only one who suffers from all of our complaining and not doing is the children. My child will suffer as simply and as completely as all the others. Words are just words, and after thousands of years there are so few who have actually learned this.