when you actually listen to your kids.
Not that I don’t listen to them, but sometimes their chatter is sorta like a muzak soundtrack to my life. My ears pick up specific words and phrases, which maybe are uttered on a higher ‘for parents only’ frequency–words like money (usually in a sentence expressing need), take the train into the city, test tomorrow, etc.
Anyways, the big rule chez Sato is not to surprise Mom. I don’t want calls or emails from teachers or parents informing me of something my kid did or didn’t do. I want to hear it from the kid him or herself. I might not be happy with the news, but I want the news straight from the horse’s mouth. The reward for playing by the rule is that I won’t fly off the handle when I hear the news (from the child). I’ll save the anger (if any), frustration, etc. for afterwards (after processing all the information).
Yesterday I got an email from Thing 2’s gym teacher. Telling me Thing 2 is in danger of failing gym for lack of participation.
I don’t doubt this for a minute. Thing 2 isn’t sporty. She doesn’t like groups. She has a hard time being enthusiastic in big groups. She hates balls. I’m also not sure if she’s even got a set of gym clothes. I mean, I know I bought some for her. Haven’t seen them since September.
Gym participation at Thing 2’s high school means “change for gym.” So I promptly write back to the teacher, asking “does she change her clothes?”
The reply: “yes.”
Now I’m frustrated. I hate silly back-and-forth emails–give me more information. If she’s failing because she’s not participating, how is she not participating (given that participation means changing into gym clothes)?
Reply: She changes her clothes, but then talks in class and doesn’t do the activity.
I am floored. My obstinate daughter is changed, is actually wearing the gym clothes, but won’t play? She’s 5’1″ and weighs 100 lbs. Pick her up and make her play! I’m at a loss as to how to reply–um, I guess this is why teaching’s hard–figuring out how to motivate all your students, not just the ones with a particular talent in the subject you teach.
I write back to the teacher that she had my permission to read Thing 2 the riot act.
At dinner, I bring up the subject to Thing 2, mostly expressing my displeasure about the rule-breaking surprise. Thing 2 is also surprised. Turns out the gym teacher has been in Florida with the softball team for over a week and hasn’t been in gym to even evaluate Thing 2’s performance (or lack thereof). Also turns out that Thing 2 is trying to participate, but for the past month, they’ve been playing volleyball in gym, and Thing 2’s team is wicked tall. So tall that no one sees her meager jumping skills. But, and this is the best, it also appears as gym class is particularly tough, because most of the other students in Thing 2’s gym class were not able to get into AP Gym…
Yes, you heard correctly…AP Gym. As in “advanced placement gym.”
It’s amidst all these excuses that that parenting frequency started to go crazy–is AP Gym the bizarro world name for the gym class made up of all the super smart kids who suck at gym, or the kids who are just really good at gym? Nope. It’s a serious class. It’s for kids who are too good for Honors Gym. (yes, there’s an Honors Gym, too).
So, Thing 2’s excuse for doing badly in gym is that she’s being held to AP Gym standards, when she’s actually only in regular gym.
It’s at this point that I think my fever returned and my mind clouded over. I told her she had a valid argument, but that’s one battle she’d have to fight on her own.
We’ll see how that turns out.