PlazaJen: Passion Knit

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

I Could Have Sold Pencils While I Wore It

James has Parent-Teacher Conferences today & tomorrow - long days for him, and every year, I have my flashbacks to PTCs of my own. I used to dreeeeead them. Dread, dread, dread. Sitting there with my parents (or sometimes, just my Dad), listening to everything about me, categorized, summed-up, and presented for consumption.

It's not that I was a terrible child, or student. Quite the opposite - but I wasn't perfect, and while perfection itself was never stated as the "goal" in our house, excellence, striving to do better, and outpacing everyone else were the desired accomplishments. To me, in those meetings, the things I was already doing well were in the "yes, fine, that's expected" pile, and the areas of improvement were cartoon-like huge. I've spent a lot of years since trying to find a bit more balance.

Not surprisingly, there were always two areas that got addressed during my Tour of Duty through the public school system - but the surprising part was how much I actually didn't care about them. Even in 4th grade. I felt terrible about being called on the carpet for them, the embarassment & fear I might be in trouble, but the actual behavior? PFFFT?! What-EVAH, bitches. That behavior being, of course, excessive socializing (talking, passing notes) and being unorganized/messy.

I laugh, remembering that particular 5th grade PTC. It was just my Dad, and Mrs. Haller, the disciplinarian from hell, who proudly displayed a paddle each year with the warning she WOULD break it over someone's butt that year. Oh, and she did. She of the long fake fingernails that would dig into your shoulder, or grab your ear. (You youngsters today have no idea what you missed out on! LOL!) The topic came around to my desk. I can still see it. I have to laugh at the memory of that image: of course I would take a 12" x 24" space, meant to house just a pile of books & notebooks, and turn it into a Vortex of Chaos. Papers hanging out, everything about it said "disheveled". So they started cooking up a threat for me, how could they make me more organized? And my father turned and looked at me and said, "We'll have you wear a sandwich board that says, 'I AM A SLOB'." Of course, Mrs. Haller agreed whole-heartedly with THAT one, because I already had enough issues fitting in, surely this would be the motivation I needed to keep my desk clean.

Now, before you get too worried, I never had to wear a sandwich board. And it did worry me a little, though I think I looked at my father with eyes that said, "Are you fucking kidding me? SURELY not, dear father." But mentally, I was already thinking about how I could possibly SIT in my desk chair while wearing a sandwich board. (Could I set it to the side at times? Hang it off the front of my desk?) And how I'd sit at the lunch table, or how I could play on the swings at recess with it. Because for me, it wasn't a question of changing that messy-desk behavior, it was how I was going to adapt to these new challenges placed upon me.

Did I ever mention before that "stubborn" also came up a lot at these conferences?
posted by PlazaJen, 7:36 AM