My Promise to This Year’s Teachers

Michaela Mitchell Elementary School

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It's that time of year again. Target coupons have become more valuable to me than the winning lottery numbers, and I'm simultaneously grateful for school uniform sales and sad the boys can't wear the perfectly good, barely stained summer clothes they've lived in for the past few weeks.

That's right, the start of school is here. For some parents, this is a time for great joy as they imagine forcing bleary-eyed children onto the bus for the first time in weeks, drinking a glass of wine to celebrate a hard-won freedom (and because it's wine-thirty somewhere), and purposely not thinking about the feeling of stupidity that comes with Common Core math.

Me? I'm dreading the day we meet the teacher. The day my social butterfly extravert will regale his new teacher with his summer adventures, ignoring her glazed eyes and forced smile. She'll quickly realize he's a child who never stops talking. Ever.

This is also the day where my youngest, the shy introvert, will hide behind my legs, refuse to speak or look at his teacher, and loudly proclaim that he hates it here and never wants to come back.

Fun times.

All the while, I'll try to warn each new-to-us teacher that no matter what I say about my kids, based on who they are with me, they'll surprise us both, and we should just hang on for the ride.

But there are things I'll be thinking, things I wish I was brave enough to say out loud, to help them understand the package deal of their new student and said student's mother. If I thought they wouldn't think I was an awful mother, this is what I'd really tell them:

I will not be the mother who volunteers to read to the class because I hate that I can't (won't?) do silly voices;

I won't bring snacks in on their birthday – mostly because I'm lazy and cheap and also because I don't want to feed 20 other children sugar. You're welcome;

I'm not coming to PTO meetings because I left behind politics and drama in high school;

I probably won't buy the gift wrap, the chocolate bars, or the school t-shirts. But if you've got those coupon books, I'm totally in;

I'm not planning the class party. I never have been a party girl, not even for 10 year olds;

I'm not chaperoning the field trip because I can barely keep up with my own children, and to be honest, I don't like other people's kids that much;

I won't be there on Field Day because I don't like sports, heat, or the outdoors. If it causes sweat, I'm out;

Basically, I'm not showing up for most the photo op moments of parenting you'll provide throughout the school year. I know, I sound like an awful parent who doesn't care about their children's education.

Here's the thing, though. There are some things I can promise, things I think actually make a difference in your life as my kid's teacher and their life as a student. So before you think I'm the lazy do-nothing mom who won't support her children, here's my promise this next school year:

I will back you up when they get into trouble. They aren't angels with me, so I know they won't be perfect with you, either;

I will not barge into your classroom, call you in a tirade, or go over your head to the principal because of something my child told me you said or did. Kids will sometimes say almost anything to get out of trouble, I know that;

I will approach you with respect with all concerns and questions – and always through email, please don't call me unless someone's bleeding;

I will let my kids learn the consequences of forgotten homework, incomplete projects, and misplaced materials at least for a little while so they feel the temporary pain of not doing their job at school;

I will be the first to set up a parent-teacher conference if I see grades slipping but not to blame you. I need to know what I can do on my end to help them – or to kick their butts a little;

I will help them with their homework, even Common Core math. When they get most of their math homework wrong, you'll know I was there, misunderstanding it right along with them;

I will also be the parent hooting, hollering, and taking too many pictures (to my children's shame) at the Honor Roll Assembly if they earned good grades, but I'm not showing up if all they “earned” was the Perfect Attendance Award;

Basically, I'm going to trust you to do your job, I'm going to make them do theirs – and let them deal with the consequences if they don't, and then I'm going to get out of the way.

That's probably the best way I can help you this year. Not by hanging streamers at Halloween or buying my body weight in wrapping paper.

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About the Author

Michaela Mitchell

Michaela is a freelancer writer, blogger, and mom of two rowdy boys. She writes all the random thoughts that pop into her head at .

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