Monday, December 13, 2010

Me and the Cub

Admittedly, I am a mama bear when it comes to my kids. Don't get in between me and one of them. I promise you, you will come out bloody.
Often I say things I probably shouldn't.
My flaw is that I rarely regret it.

(To protect the innocent child, I'll try to be as ambiguous as possible--not to protect the teacher.) My child came home from school Friday quite distraught--a teacher playing favorites, not fair, blah blah blah. I've learned as I've gotten older and more experienced as a mom that my job is to listen to the child, comfort the child, then encourage the child to move on.

But I couldn't let this one go. I've heard other kids complain about said teacher, and I'm sick of it, frankly. I know this teacher plays favorites--know it. And someone, sometime should stand up for the right thing, right? So I called Teacher's voicemail on Friday, left a message, and then . . . forgot.

Today I answered the phone and . . . it was the teacher. Now, I had cooled down about the situation over the weekend, but hearing the teacher's voice over the phone brought back my anger. I told this person that I had had a very upset child come home on Friday. The teacher tried to explain away his/her side of the story, saying that what I'd heard wasn't the complete truth. I am definitely not one of those moms that believe everything out of their kids' mouths. Sad, but true. I admitted that it probably wasn't exactly the same as had been seen by my child, that I knew that my child is sometimes a little hard to deal with and that not everyone likes this child. But I knew Teacher played favorites, and it is unfortunate that Teacher couldn't at least extend the same opportunities to all the children, even if they aren't in consideration for the privilege. (Is this so obscure that you can't even follow my story? Sorry.) Isn't it a teacher's job to treat them all fairly, even if said teacher doesn't like them all the same?

I hung up the phone, and I have been unable to get the exchange off my mind for a few reasons:
1. Is this exchange going to come back and bite my child, because Mom stepped in?
2. I wish I'd said a few other things as well. And that would have been really bad.
3. When will I learn to just keep my mouth shut? Does this ever do any good? Does it ever change anyone's mind?
4.  Where is the line between protective and intrusive?
5.  Am I the only one who ever does this?

I'm not sorry, per se.  I'm just wondering if it was really the right thing to do.  Probably not.
But now it's done.
And one of my personality traits--whether it's flaw or strength--is that I rarely dwell on something once it's over.
What would you have done?

I did it again. I was editing my blog roll, and I accidentally deleted the entire thing--again. Forgive me. I'm going to bed. It's been a crapshoot of a day. I'll try to rectify it this week. Sorry.


  1. Sometimes, like you said, you just need to stand up for what is right, especially when it concerns your child. Now that that is done, I would kill her with kindness. Seriously.

    My youngest son had a horrible teacher in 3rd grade, mostly because I think she had a horrible life at the time. This teacher was into punishing the ENTIRE class for what a few students were doing. I finally had enough...looked her straight in the eyes and said, "This is not acceptable." She cried and said, "But I don't know what else to do." So I started showing up to help her. I'm not sure she liked it but she knew I was trying to be supportive. I think teachers taking their anger out on our kids for what we say to them, is a real concern. You made your point, and I think that's good. Now I think she might need some of your wonderful cookies.

  2. It sounds like a crappy day...tomorrow has got to be better. Having raised 8 children, I found it in our favor to make the teach our friend from day one...but always keep your nose to the wind mama bear, you are smart to do so! ;D

  3. Great. Now our house is gonna get firebombed.

  4. The hardest times for me are when I have no control over what is happening in the classroom. I have been "helping" in my youngests classroom because of some worries. It helps me see things a bit more clearly, but it is not always the picture I wish to see. It has made me consider walking back into the world of teaching on more than one occasion this past year. I guess the only glimmer is our children learn as much from the less than perfect teachers as they do from the stellar ones.
    I'ts a great dress rehearsal for life, but regardless it still makes you want to growl doesn't it Mama bear?

  5. I can't really say what I would have done because my kids aren't quite there yet. But I think that life is full of injustices. Some you can confront and make a difference. And others...well...sometimes life just isn't fair.
    It's a tough line to walk. I think you did great!

  6. Hi!
    I am just like you when it comes to things like this. I am forever writing notes and emails to a teacher...then I decide to rewrite or not send at all.
    Even my kids will probably shouldn't send that...or PLEASE don't Mommy!
    I try to stay away from phone calls for that reason.
    I hope it will be okay for said child!

  7. well, you know that I like to rock the boat with teachers, I seem to share it a lot on my blog:)

    I was a teacher so I think I actually have higher standards for my kids teachers.. .and I also don't believe everything my kids say and I tend to think it is somehow their fault!

    It's a good trait to be able to just say what you want and move on. . .I'm not so good at that!

  8. I admire you. I have a hard time speaking up for myself. But, I have found it easier to speak up for my children.

    I e-mailed my son's teacher back near the beginning of the school year when they were asking us to make a decision regarding our son's kindergarten year...and gave us 2 days to make the decision.

    I (very nicely) expressed my disappointment over feeling rushed to make what was (for us) a big decision. She wrote back with an apology and we moved on.

    Fast forward about a month to parent/teacher conferences. At the end of the conference as we were standing up to leave, the teacher stood up too & said, "I just really want to apologize in person for asking for such a sudden decision earlier in the year."

    And she started crying! The people pleaser in me felt the need to comfort her and assure her it was fine. After we left, my husband (who was still pretty fired up) told me he thought I glossed over something that still upset him.

    I guess what I took away from the whole experience was that even though it was hard for me to speak up and I apparently upset the teacher (who felt truly bad about the whole thing), I helped make her aware that in the future they may want to give parents more notice. She thanked me for that. And, the next set of parents may not have to deal with the same issue.

  9. I've called out teachers before for the same stuff, b/c I'm a Momma Bear too. My son's 5th grade teacher acted like a 16 yo babysitter who couldn't control her self, and I told her so. She was fired by the school at the end of the school year, so I knew I wasn't the only one who saw what an inexperienced and immature teacher she was. Ya gotta do it sometimes!

  10. I think it's an awesome trait to get over something quickly...that's very hard for some of us to do. I think as moms we have to know when to stand up for our kids when they are not willing to...but also know when to let things slide. Last year I marched into the school after I found out the nurse had my son carry a bucket of another childs vomit all the way down the hall back to his classroom. Boy was I MAD. Of course I first confirmed w/ his teacher to make sure this was true (she had already informed the principal) but I felt very strongly about going in and letting the nurse know how I felt. She lied of course...said she didn't know there was throw up in the can! Uuughh!

  11. To me, this doesn't seem like something you should've brought to the attention of the teacher. If it's the child I'm guessing... I'm sure it was a way bigger deal than it was made to seem. I'm sure the teacher was in the wrong too; however, I've been the purpose of many a call to the teacher, and I' can certainly say that 85% of the childrens reactions to the initial infringement are exaggerated.
    This didn't seem like such a big deal, maybe because I didn't get the whole story, but I think it might've done more harm than good. The teacher really does treat you differently after they get to know your parents, and it really depends on what the parent says. Sometimes it's best to let it lie, and if you have something that might offend the teacher, wait til the last day of school! ;)

  12. I hate phone confrontations. I say more than I would have if it were a face-to-face confrontation. And I shake and yell. Not like this happens very often at all.

    But yes, I agree with you that you have to let it go and not dwell. Your child will be fine. The year is half over. Everyone learns something.

    Whatever it was, it can't be undone. Unless you give the Teacher a really great Christmas gift.

  13. This is my Mom's philosophy. Assume the best, look for the good. It has never failed me. (Even though I have often failed to live it.)

  14. Reminds me of a quote from one of my favorite movies - You've Got Mail.

    Joe Fox: Do you ever feel you've become the worst version of yourself? That a Pandora's box of all the secret, hateful parts - your arrogance, your spite, your condescension - has sprung open? Someone upsets you and instead of smiling and walking away, you zing them? "Hello, it's Mr Nasty." I'm sure you have no idea what I'm talking about.

    Kathleen Kelly: No, I know exactly what you mean, and I'm completely jealous. What happens to me when I'm provoked is that I get tongue-tied and my mind goes blank. Then I spend all night tossing and turning trying to figure out what I should have said. What should I have said, for example, to a bottom dweller who recently belittled my existence?

    Joe Fox: Wouldn't it be wonderful if I could pass all my zingers to you? And then I would never behave badly and you could behave badly all the time, and we'd both be happy. But then, on the other hand, I must warn you that when you finally have the pleasure of saying the thing you mean to say at the moment you mean to say it, remorse inevitably follows.

    It seems like no matter what, you'll probably regret it one way or another . . .

  15. I am very much a momma bear. It is our right to be. It is our childrens right for us to protect them. I would have done the same thing you did. I have done the same thing. I have to control myself and calm down before I say anything because I have a problem of getting a little too emotional but none the less I still make my feelings known.

  16. Addressing issues with a child's teacher can be difficult and should never be done in the heat of the moment. It is very true that our actions/reactions to something a teacher has done reflects back on our children. I was (and still am) an extremely ferocious mama bear but I learned to be very judicious in which issues I broached with my sons’ teachers. It is also true that our children knowing how protective we are dramatize to certain degrees the situations. Sometimes the issue is something they need to deal with on their own. I also learned to take into consideration their feelings about whether or not to address the issue with their teacher. Sometimes I overruled it and forged on. I recall one instance where there was an issue with a teacher that I felt obligated to address and unfortunately there were repercussions and I ended up having my son removed from her class. Before approaching your child’s teacher cool off and discuss it with your child and, if you still feel the issue needs to be addressed, do so in person. Any other form of communication can lead to misunderstandings and possibly more issues. Once the issue has been addressed, let it go and move on.

  17. I agree with Heidi- I immediately thought of that movie too. I am, sadly, a filterless person. So I probably would have said all of those things you didn't say, but wanted to. Sorry I have no valid or helpful advice, but I know how you feel.

  18. Brad is funny.

    Just sayin'...

    As for when to speak up and when not to, that's a hard one. In general, though, it was when the offense was just too outrageous to ignore that I would step up and speak up. Almost as if it were important to say something for the principle of the thing...or if other kids were being hurt and would continue to be hurt.

    Other than that, I pretty much butted out and let my kids handle it. After all, they needed to develop some coping skills, right?

    It isn't easy not to get involved, though, especially when you're crazy about your kids, like you are. (And a fairly passionate individual, to boot!)


  19. Can be say Ms. Belar? Brenn has still never forgiven me nor let me talk to one of her teachers again. One bright note, the evil english teacher at Poston who has now chosen a new career due to my encouragement!

    Let it roll baby!

  20. Uh hmmm.....don't even get me going on this.
    YES! I most definitely think you did the correct thing. I step in whether they are in elementary school or high school. If they are coming to you upset and really don't know how to handle the situation, then I think it's very appropriate for you to help them out. I happen to love teachers and have a lot of respect for them, but there are a few out there that need a little reminder every now and again.
    If you've read my postings about my son being bullied, then you know where I'm goig with this.

  21. You are's hard to know exactly what is always the correct thing to do. I think if you are always in your child's corner especially when they are not there, and knowing their can't go wrong.

  22. This comment has been removed by the author.

  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

  24. I had an experience like that when my oldest was in 3rd grade. His teacher always seemed to be punishing him and she was more than a little crabby towards the class all the time. I was angry and frustrated but I got a genius idea. Rex and I became sort of Secret Santas even though it wasn't Christmas time. If Teacher didn't know who was doing the nice things, she wouldn't know WHO to be nice to - therefore she was nice to everyone. For a whole week we left little surprises for her on her desk, in the teacher's lounge - sometimes getting other staff to help us (and swearing them to secrecy). She kept asking the class over and over who was being so nice but Rex never said, and no one else knew. It was delicious.
    Her attitude changed in the classroom changed. After school let out for the summer I received a note from her. She thanked me over and over again (the staff had finally told her when school was over) and was so touched at the kindness shown. Seems her husband had cancer and she was having a hard time putting one foot in front of the other. You never know what's going on with people...
    I'm no more patient than you - I got just as angry at injustice - especially towards my kids. I don't know what gave me the idea to do what we did - but it's one of my proudest moments. I'll never forget it.
    That said - you can't let your kids get bullied by a teacher. I've had that happen many times, and you do have to put a stop to it. But sometimes that gentle approach works well if the offense isn't too great. And besides, I wanted to tell you my nice story - it's one of my greater successes in life. Amen.

  25. I don't have kids yet but I know that if I do I'm going to have to try really hard not to be nightmare mom. I'd have called and said exactly what I thought. In fact, I kinda want to call your kid's teacher, too. Right now. Stupid teacher.


  26. I haven't experience any unpleasantness from any of E's teachers and hopefully don't have to ever. However, if I was in your shoes, I would have done the same ESPECIALLY if this teacher is KNOWN to play favorites. We rely on our kids teachers to be good role models for them when they are together. If that teacher is playing favorites then he/she is sending out the wrong message to students. Kids will start to wonder what is wrong with who they are and will try to pretend to be someone else just to please said teacher. We shouldn't have to teach our kids about emotional blackmail at such a young age (or ever but unfortunately it exists).

    Ugh, I'm getting mad at that teacher right now too. Give me his/her number and I'll giver them a piece of my mind too.

  27. Oh it is times like this that I so wish I could be a fly on the wall so I would know what is truly happening so what truly should be done.

    We totally have to be our kids advocates, but yes sometimes it is best to teach them to move on to.... so so hard to know when. I know I have no clue :)

  28. You've dealt with it - now let it go, unless it escalates. You absolutely did the right thing. You were your child's advocate, and since it sounds like you don't make a habit of calling teachers like this, your child knows that you stood beside him and believed him. It will never get better than that....well, maybe a little better, but you know what I mean!

  29. it's done. it's done. i sit and stew over what i wish i would have said or not said, but being out of the situation tells me that there's nothing more to do. also, i worry that my brennan might not be the favorite. he is very high energy and stubborn. i hope that his teachers will love him as much as me, but i know that most won't b/c i used to be a teacher. 3rd and 2nd grades before i had him. the ones that are difficult are usually (not always) the ones that are not the favorites. i did a good job my first year of not playing favorites, even with the stinky kids i loved and hugged. true story. i just pray that we can all get through the school years alive.