I have never been known not to speak up. In fact I sometimes joke with my husband that my goal in life is to be shy and unassuming. I am approaching my 49th birthday and so far I have a long way to go before I hit that goal. Perhaps I will never make it, probably never come close.
However, recently I felt a bit guilty and sheepish when advocating for both of my daughters, ages 10 and 8.
The first was soon after I was able to observe my younger daughter in the classroom. It was an open house at her school. Not the traditional type when we all venture to our child’s classroom in the evening a few weeks after school starts. Instead this was a chance to be a fly on the wall for an hour to watch how the teacher teaches and our children are in the class. As far I remember, since my oldest was in kindergarten six years ago, this is the first time our school has done such a program. I applaud them for it.
The first thing I noticed about my younger daughter was her straining to see the board because of the placement of her seat. I am especially keen to this because about eight months ago we discovered she has vision problems. It explained a lot in regards to her poor handwriting. So when I saw her seat, I was alarmed.
After the hour in the classroom, I was on the phone to my husband about the issue before I even found my car in the parking lot. We discussed it and agreed we would ask for our daughter’s seat to be moved.
That evening as I crafted the email to her teacher, I hesitated. Was I overreacting? It is the teacher’s classroom but then again, it is my daughter, I know her learning style well. If she moves my child, will that disturb the class make up?
My mind raced about the other requests I have made so far this school year as well as when my older daughter was in this teacher’s class. Was I being, God forbid, overbearing? Was I being one-of-those parents?
Or was I just being a good parent? After all, as a long-time journalist that frequently covers education and a parent, I am forever hearing of teachers who complain because parents are not involved and expect too much of the teacher.
So in the kindest words I could and with much explanation, I wrote the email to her teacher. I had my husband proof it. Something I rarely do.
The same day, I sent an email to my older daughter’s teacher about a girl bully in the class. Having written a couple of articles on the subject I can spot the signs easily based on what my older daughter was telling me. This girl bully was doing all the classics, whispering unkind words when the teacher was not around. I knew that if it was happening to my generally happy kid, it was happening to others who might now know to talk to their parents.
But again, I hesitated. Was I being too overprotective? Should I just let my daughter handle it? Wait another week or so to see if it continues?
Finally I got over my questions and sent the teacher a short email. She responded quickly and thanked me. She said she would address the child’s inappropriate behavior.
This lack of confidence in speaking up for my children has been a problem for me in the past. When to not say something and when to speak up. Do I wait and see? When do I just let my daughters handle it? And there have been times when I reined myself in and wished I had not.
So far, in these two cases, I am pleased I did – I think.