Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dear Teacher...

The following is the newspaper article I wrote for my column, WhiMSy love (in print)
Bridgeport News-Blade • September 1, 2010

After my girls returned home from their first day of school, I rummaged through their backpacks to see if they had any homework. I was rather surprised when I realized that I was the one with the homework! Stacks of papers to fill out, forms to read, and signatures to sign. One particular paper rather intrigued me. My 6 year old's teacher was requesting that parents write a description of their child. It was a way for the teacher to get to know about her students: their learning style, how they play, etc. I just loved everything about this assignment. Here is a portion of the exact letter I wrote to my daughter's 1st grade teacher...

Dear Teacher,
As per your request, here is some information about my child that might help you get to know her...

• She hates vegetables...that come in a can. She prefers them freshly picked—& consumes them at every meal. Her father & I joke that she's gonna turn into a gourd if she doesn't stop eating so many squash!
• Her favorite color is ALL the colors in the rainbow.
• My daughter's knowledge is as deeps as all of the oceans put together—times 10. When she speaks, she says things that astound me, baffle me, & mesmerize me. It's as if she is the teacher & I am her student.
• When she whines (which she rarely does) it sounds like beautiful melodies being sung by angels in heaven. Sometimes I ask her to whine on purpose—just to be lulled by the sweet heavenly tune.
• She not only knows her "please" & "thank you"—she can say them in 32 languages.
• She can speak with the animals.
• She rattles off 17th century prose on a whim.
• She can create a miniature sized origami replica of a city skyscraper that fits on the head of a pin.
• She was once a student of the great chef, Julia Child.
• She has a pet peacock.
• She can quote the Bible's entire New Testament by heart.
• She reads Braille.
• She can juggle chainsaws.
• She refuses to eat candy, except on special occasions—like that time our family took a trip to Disneyland in 2009 & we got to meet the real Mr. Walt Disney himself!
• She composes music in her sleep.
• She's had a slumber party at the Taj Mahal.
• She received her license when she was five—her pilot's license.
• She has dined with 3 presidents.
• She can whistle 4-part harmony.
• One time, she couldn't figure out HOW a man could actually walk on the moon. And then she tried it & totally understood.
• She was born with a birthmark on her left side, of a map of the Western Hemisphere. So, unless we're traveling east, we've no need for a GPS.
• In her spare time, she likes to whittle fallen branches into toys for needy children.
• She once lived in a cannibal village, where she introduced the people to sweet tasty things like cotton candy, hand churned ice cream, & petit fours. Though their dental bills were at an all-time high, on the bright side: the number of neighboring locals disappearing from nearby villages was at an all-time low.
• She is related to Santa Claus.
• She is best friends with The Little Mermaid.
• She can fly like Superman.
• Oh, & she also invented the light bulb.

Of course non of this is true. But it sure was fun to write. I felt like this was my ode to all those super-braggy moms I've met in my life: The ones who go on & on about their terrific and excellent child, even comparing their offspring to yours in that not-so-subtle and very irritating way.

Some of you know what I'm talking about. You listen to stories about how 2nd grade junior reads at an 8th grade level. (This makes you want to quickly burn all the picture books in your own home.) You hear how little Betty Sue has never had a problem being disobedient. (This makes you want to vomit a a little.) It's frustrating that they can't relate to the fact that your 3 1/2 year old is struggling with potty training because their sweet angel was wearing big girl panties at 11 months old.

I think about this back and forth thing that moms sometimes do. They scrutinize each other's kids, they measure up each other's parenting decisions. They parallel their child's achievements against other children'ts achievements. They may not even notice they're doing it. But I do! I notice you're doing it! Stop it, I say!

Awesomeness is in the eye of the beholder. Some of us just keep that awesomeness to ourselves, so as not to step on the toes of our neighbor who probably has an equally awesome kid. Perfect children do not exist. Yours is not the exception. Neither is mine.

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