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“You’re not going to mention the Argos catalogue, are you?” inquired daughter two during a brief conversation about parents evening etiquette. Last time I spoke to her English teacher I did let slip that her main reading matter was indeed the Argos catalogue. There then followed a list of things I am apparently not allowed to bring up – including her performance in Grease in 2013 [mentioned last time], Diary of a Wimpy Kid [which I reckon she’ll still be reading when she’s my age] and any gymnastic incident, such as the recent whiplash occurrence. In fact, my role is to simply sit there while the teacher reels off a load of targets and percentages and nod. No interaction whatsoever.
“What about if I say that you really, really like their subject?” I said. Daughter two’s main approach to school is to put on a charm offensive so I thought she might warm to this tactic. “If it’s maths, he won’t believe you,” said daughter two confidently. “What about religious studies? You got a commendation for that. I could say something like ‘she is a very spiritual person’,” I ventured. “Under NO circumstances say that I am a spiritual person, mum. Teachers are not interested in me. They don’t want to be my friend. They say that all the time. They just want me to get good marks,” came the reply.
What about history? I warmed to the history teacher at the last event as we actually had a conversation. “Do not speak to him about medieval history, mum. It’s five minutes of them telling you stuff and you smiling. Do not even attempt to mention anything I say about the teachers at home.” This includes the chats I overhear between her and daughter one in which they dissect teachers’ foibles, “anger management issues” [ie stress] and the like.
I’m not really sure what the point of parents evening is if you are not allowed to interact in any way with the teachers. I thought it was about the teachers getting to know their students a bit better and vice versa, but it seems it is just a regurgitation of the “interim report” they send us with list of incomprehensible figures on it. Daughter two sometimes mentions things like ‘I got a 5c in French, mum,” and I scan her face for signs of whether this is a good or bad thing.
Week one back at school has not gone particularly well for daughter two. I picked her up on the first day. “It was a bad day,” she said. “First, I did badly in a maths test. Then we had swimming and xxx pushed me under the water and tried to drown me, then the teacher said my swimming costume [it’s one of mine] was too low at the top and then I lost my water bottle. Then my best friend forgot her blazer so she was going to get into trouble so I asked to go and look for my water bottle and when I was out the room, I gave my best friend my blazer. Then I found my water bottle and xxx had kicked it and it was all damaged and then when I got back to class, my teacher asked where my blazer was and my friend looked at me and said ‘don’t say’ and the teacher realised what had happened and then I had to go up and chat to her after the class to tell her why I had done it because I think these things are much better if you explain them. I told her about my bottle too and she said it was very sad.” Phew.
I was slightly perturbed about the attempted drowning, but daughter two is prone to exaggeration. She assured me that xxx actually likes her a lot and is just a bit strange in her manner of showing it. Should I not inform a teacher, perhaps during parents evening? Apparently not because most of them are “mean” and really don’t care, even if you are dying in front of their very eyes. I made a mental note to find a new, more modest swimming costume.