My whole life I have hated parents’ evening. I know it’s such a random thing to dread. But I guess I just feel eternally guilty. That would be because I was brought up in an Italian Catholic family, and guilt was everywhere.
But am I alone in feeling like I do about parents’ evening? Do you all now think I’m an absolute bloody weirdo for saying this?
My friends think it’s really funny that I hate them so much. (Parents’ evenings that is, not my friends). Those who don’t know me very well have no idea why I dread parents’ evenings. And those who do know me, know I have good reason(s) to dread them.
Why I hated parents’ evening as a child
I always dreaded my parents coming back from parents’ evenings. Except for one year. That was the year I had a teacher with a very strong Glaswegian accent. I was counting on my parents not being able to understand a word he said. And I was right.
I didn’t dread them because I was bad, because I wasn’t really. I worked well, did my homework and toed the line (mostly). But I also never shut up and used to get in trouble almost as much as I was commended.
I never got into the usual trouble like fighting in the playground or stealing people’s slinkies out of their school bags. No. I used to get into trouble for the most random things. Like the time my Mum was called in to my first school because I had been found standing in the sink in the girls toilets. Apparently the teacher asked what I thought I was doing, and I flippantly answered “tap dancing”.
Some teachers don’t have a sense of humour
Well, one of mine didn’t. There was the time I was sent out of the classroom for laughing loudly during quiet reading time. Or maybe it was because I argued with the teacher that it was actually her fault. In my defence she’d given me a JOKE book to read and some of them were laugh out loud funny. (I’m still quite indignant about this, can you tell?).
That’s another reason why I dread parents’ evening. The majority of teachers are lovely. But there are some that just don’t have a sense of humour about anything.
I think the most embarrassing for me, was when I was at high school. My History teacher told my parents just how much she had enjoyed reading my World War II coursework, because she had found it very entertaining.
But the pages and pages of conversation I had fabricated between Hitler and Chamberlain had had to go unmarked as there was no historical accuracy.
But. I had NO idea that attending parents evening as a parent would be worse!
Why does nobody tell you how anxiety-inducing parents evenings are?
My first ever parents evening as a parent was shortly after my first born started nursery. My angelic little Joe who would shout out ‘fucken’ every time his tower block of bricks fell down, or he got frustrated.
Not great when you’re 3 and the whole world is frustrating. I was convinced he wasn’t saying ’fucking’ and was trying to say something else, but I don’t think anybody believed me.
I swear too much
When he was a teenager, his PE teacher once rang me to say he was putting Joe in detention after school for yelling “kick the fucking ball you wanker” at one of his own team mates. So maybe my Mum was right and I DO swear too much.
Whoever was right, isn’t important, but are you starting to see why I dread parents’ evening yet?
Then came Jess. The discussion with her teacher regarding her ‘pregnancy’ when she was 5 seems like it was yesterday. She had been busy telling anybody that would listen that she was expecting a baby at Christmas. Quite rightly, this revelation raised some safeguarding concerns. It was cleared up pretty quickly when I told her teacher that she had been asking for a Baby Annabel for months. But I had told her she’d have to wait until Christmas. In Jess’ defence, she hadn’t actually said she was pregnant, just that she was expecting a baby.
Just another reason why I dread parents’ evening. You never know what random behaviour your child has been displaying at school until you meet the teacher.
I hate the uniform
The day she told her High School Headteacher that she hated the school uniform so much she didn’t want to go into school anymore, was the day I really starting understanding why I dread parents’ evening so much.
This particular fight wasn’t a fight Jess was prepared to give up on. I had to chuckle when he said he would make changes to the uniform just for her. I know he was being sarcastic, but I’m so glad he wasn’t being serious. Imagine getting a letter from school saying everybody’s uniform is changing because one girl doesn’t want to wear it. And that one girl being your child.
One out of four isn’t bad..
I’ve got off pretty lightly so far with Emily. School-wise anyway. Although how her teacher in Reception kept a straight face when she drew a wingless fly with the caption : It cunt fly.
That was a surprise and a half at parents evening looking through her books I can tell you!
Apart from that, her parents evenings have been golden.
I have had to have an awkward conversation with one of her teachers though, all thanks to a cake tin.
NEVER in my life did I ever think I would have to scream up the stairs to my almost-adult-child “Joe come quick, Emily’s got stuck in a cake tin and can’t breathe”. But I have. It was one of those springform tins that separates from the base.
For some reason she decided it would make a good belt.
And it did.
For about 4 seconds. Then she breathed out and it got wedged right round the middle of her tummy. I’ll never forget the look of victory turning to panic that crossed her little face.
Thankfully, this happened at one of those rare moments when Joe wasn’t asleep or wearing headphones and he was able to run down, bend the metal and pull it off her as I squirted her in Fry Light (for lubrication, not just for fun).
Her teacher’s face was an absolute picture the next morning when I told her what had happened. I thought I had better mention it to her as Emily had swimming that day, and no doubt the great red ring around her tummy would raise some questions.
I’m still not sure if her teacher believed me, but it’s one of those stories that is so ridiculously random that it can only be true. And it is true. It popped up on my Facebook memories again just the other day!
Where oh where do I start with Ruby?
After years of getting off lightly with Emily, this girl reminded me why I dread parents’ evening again. In fact, not just parents’ evening, she made me dread going into the school playground.
The beckoning finger of doom
There was the time I was picking the girls up from school one day. Ruby was in year 1 and I got the beckoning finger of doom (BFOD) from her teacher. Every parent knows this is never for a good reason, and therefore everyone dreads it.
If you’re anything like me, you look behind you, desperately praying that there is another parent who is the actual intended recipient of the BFOD.
But no. The BFOD is always for me.
This particular time, Ruby and another girl had gone to the toilet together and were in there for quite a long time. Her teacher had gone to see what was keeping them. She was pretty shocked to discover Ruby with her polo shirt pulled up around her neck, with her chest and belly covered in hand soap.
As was the other girl. And the floor was absolutely caked in it.
When asked what on earth they were doing, Ruby replied :
“We are being penguins sliding on to the ice”.Ruby Fox circa 2016
What can you say to that? I think that was the first time I’ve ever almost given myself an aneurism from the desperate struggle of trying not to laugh whilst also doing the I’m-not-happy-with-you face that was more appropriate to the situation.
Another Ruby-gem came from the ‘book look’ during a year 2 parents’ evening. Looking through her Maths book, I was surprised to find a large section of it covered with flowers. Apparently she preferred drawing flowers to doing anything as boring as Maths.
Can you see why I dread parents’ evening?
So, as you can imagine, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to this term’s parents evening. Especially when Ruby swore blind that she didn’t have parents evening on the day I had written it in my diary.
I convinced myself that she was objecting so heavily because she knew she was going to be in trouble, and doing her best to avoid it.
Her teacher had already gone to the effort of finding me in the playground a few weeks previous to discuss Ruby’s low-level disruption in class, so I guessed she was dreading it as much as I was. And was desperately trying to sabotage me meeting her teacher again.
So I marched her into the hall despite all her protesting, to wait in line for our turn. Our scheduled time came and went, and when I saw her teacher alone in between seeing parents, I went up to ask her if I had got the time of our appointment wrong.
Nope. I had got the wrong DAY. I’ve never seen Ruby look so smug. And that smugness just grew as her teacher told me that Ruby had been working hard in lessons. Not only that, but her behaviour had massively improved. AND that she was a pleasure to have in the classroom.
I was just about to breathe a huge sigh of relief and thank her profusely for fitting me in on the wrong day when she casually said: “although, we have had to have words with Ruby about not hitting people with pencil cases. Again.”
FFS! That’s the closest I have ever come to enjoying a parents evening!
The impromptu meetings with teachers are even worse. But that’s a whole other story. You can read it here ➡️ Phone calls from school.