I show up

Sunday, October 28, 2012
I volunteer as class mom at my son's school every week.  I usually do it on Tuesday, but I was sick on this week and went on Thursday instead.  My son has two teachers.  They both have babies at home so they split the week.  I've never been there with the teacher that was there on Thursday.  The Tuesday teacher is always really happy to have me.  She gives me loads to do and makes me feel welcome from the minute I arrive, but with the teacher this week, it was a much different experience.
When I arrived, she told me she didn't have anything for me to do.  I said, 'Oh, Sarah always puts me right to work.'  She replied dryly by saying, 'I'm sure she does.' and she walked away to start the class.  I stood to the side and watched her teach.  The other teacher had a much different teaching style.  She was warm and sweet (firm when she needed to be, but sweet).  This teacher was very different.  She was more firm than sweet and expected a lot from very small children.  She didn't even allow fidgeting or moving around.  She expected them to sit very still and when they didn't, she took out these little mats that the children had to sit on.  She said they were magic mats that would keep them still.  My son was one of the children to sit on the mat, but even if he wasn't, I would have thought it was a bit excessive.  These kids are four years old for God's sake!
My son was very excited to have me there.  He kept looking over at me and smiling or waving.  This did not keep him still and I could see it was bothering the teacher.  I kept motioning for him to sit back down.  Some of the other children were smiling and waving too, but for the most part, they were all being really good and paying attention.
At playtime, I was surrounded by about eight children (including my son) that all wanted to play with me.  Being the mother of an only child, I'm not used to being around so many children wanting my attention.  I played everything from follow the leader to Simon Says to pretending to be stomping dinosaurs.  It was really adorable and I have to say that it was really nice to be the center of attention for so many children.  They all laughed and really enjoyed the games and I was hugged by almost every one of them at some point in the day.
After lunch, I returned to the classroom and was asked by the teaching assistant to do some laminating in the teacher's lounge.  She gave me a stack of about 100 pages, showed me how to use the laminating machine  and left me to it.  I looked at the stack of pages and knew it was a ploy for the teacher to keep me out of the classroom for the remainder of the day.  I went back to the class to speak to the teacher.  I told her I didn't mind doing some of it.  I was there to help, but 100 pages was a bit excessive.  I told her about the arthritis in my back and let her know I couldn't stand for such long periods.  She said, 'I wanted to talk to you anyway.  The thing is, I don't think it's a good idea for you to come back.'  It's nice that you want to help out, but maybe you can help another class.' she said it with a plastic smile and then began to walk away.  I was shocked and furious.  I stopped her and firmly said, 'No, I am not going to help out at another class.  I am here for my son.  I know he's been a little disruptive today, but I'll go home and talk to him about it and we're going to give it another try next week.'  She was taken back.  I guess she expected me to just accept what she said without another word.  She said that she didn't think it would make a difference and it was a waste of all our time.  I said, 'No, my son looks forward to having me here.  I am here for him.  I want to get to know the other children and see him in the classroom environment. I want to be a part of his experience because that's the kind of mom I am - I show up.   So I'm not going to let you tell me no.  I will go home and talk to him and next time, I'll come when Sarah is teaching if it bothers you, but I'm not letting you tell me no.'
She agreed, but I'm pretty sure it was only because I was quite strong with her and may have intimidated her.  Which is fine with me because I don't like her much and gave her the exact impression I wanted her to have. I wanted her to know that when it comes to my son, I'll be making the decisions - not her.



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