Work with me, please.


That’s a great opener for a parent-teacher conference.  Ms. M had Mae as a student, and now has Jay in her preschool-4 classroom.  He is doing well, despite what she describes as trouble sitting still during circle time.  And, when he gets upset about something, he cries strongly for a while, but it doesn’t happen often.  I can live with that.  I’m so proud of how he is growing as a reader.  Ms. M told me that he’s “chunking” words, and I said, yes, his dad taught him how.  Ms. M is now sending home reading material for him so that we can listen to him and note what he reads easily and where he needs help.   So far, he reads the books and word lists easily, which is a great confidence builder for him.  It’s a beautiful sight.

Mae had another outstanding academic semester, and even better, we had no emails or calls from her teacher or the office about behavioral problems.  I’m not naive; I know that doesn’t mean there were no issues.  However, I think it means the teacher has figured out how to work with Mae.  And, that’s a beautiful thing too.

In the teachers’ classrooms and in the office, where I chatted with some administrators between conferences, I heard how they look forward to watching my kids grow and seeing what paths they take, what they become.

As I left the school, I was reminded of a book  about successful African American women, No Mountain High Enough by Dorothy Ehrhart-Morrison.  She interviewed a number of black women on the secrets of their success.  One common theme was high expectations from their families and members of their communities.  Knowing that others expected certain behavior and educational pursuit and success from them, they felt motivated to achieve so that they wouldn’t disappoint.  These women spoke of high expectations not as pressure but as confidence in their abilities and potential.  I hope my kids will appreciate the expectations of them as expressions of confidence and hope and feel esteemed enough to rise up.

Now that I’ve typed that I remember how this week Jay gave me a scary crystal ball moment in which I had a vision of him living upstairs at age 40, still sleeping in his twin bed.  One of his classmates asked me why it is that Jay can’t watch “Spongebob” and whether he’ll be able to watch it when he grows up.  I told her that when Jay grows up and gets his on place, he can watch whatever he likes.  Jay turned to me and said that when he grows up, he wants to stay at home with me and Hubby.  I was a little surprised; his sister picked out a condo building for her future home  a couple of years ago.  Isn’t that normal?  So, I asked Jay, “Don’t you want to have your own place so you don’t have to listen to Mommy and Daddy’s rules anymore?”  His bottom lip went out a little and he said, “Mom, I just love you.”  Since he only recently started using the “l” word comfortably (thanks to his teachers making it a classroom theme leading up to Valentine’s day), my heart softened and I said, “Ok, you can stay with us. ”  I hope this is a conversation he forgets we had.  Goodness gracious.

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