Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dress Pants and Expectations

I think I'm going to rename this "The Bitching Blog".

Actually, that title would be a bit unfair to myself, and certainly to everyone who reads and comments, because I do feel the majority of things I post on here are very relevant and fair without going too far overboard.  But right now I'm seeing red...or more accurately, black.

My daughter auditioned for what they call "select chorus" in her school.  It's basically a show choir--the children travel to different places and perform.  She was placed in chorus at the beginning of the year not by her choice, but by the school as one of her electives.

Last night, she came home from a school event at 6:30 and announced that she had made select chorus.  We were thrilled!  Then she announced that she needed black dress pants and black dress shoes by 8:30 this morning.

I sent her teacher an email and explained that we were unaware of this need until last night and I apologized for the inability to provide her with black pants.  After I sent the email, I checked out the chorus website at the school, and yep, there it was--dress uniform required.  It's been listed since September.  Go, me.

I received a terse email from her teacher this morning that began with no heading, no greeting, merely a "the dress uniform was outlined in the syllabus and is required.  She will not be able to participate if she does not have one."  To her credit, the teacher said she would look around and see if she had an extra.

For years I've been on the other side of the fence.  I've been the teacher with kids who show up with no diapers, no warm coat on cold days, no appropriate shoes or change of clothing or backpack.  When I taught public school, I considered myself lucky if my kids showed up in person, never mind bringing supplies.  I would feel that annoyance in my gut when I'd see little Timmy coming to school in a light windbreaker on a 30-degree day.  But hey, that's why we had an extra coat supply, and we used it.  It just wasn't worth getting upset about, because there was nothing you could DO about it.  I can't be at twenty kids' houses at seven a.m. and dress them, nor should I.  So they show up how they show up, and we work with it.

And now I'm on the other end of the fence, trying to manage two kids in middle school, each taking seven classes (or is it eight?  Even I don't know for sure).  Each class has a syllabus, and most of them asked for the syllabus to be signed and returned on the second day of school.  Despite my amazing psychic powers (as well as my jotting notes crazily with pen and paper), I did not catch every supply from fourteen (or sixteen?) different classes that my kids needed.  (Just so you don't think I suck, they do this weird A/B schedule where some classes meet every day and some every other day.  I just look at the grades.)

And I'm aggravated.

I want to meet my children's teachers halfway.  I want my kids to do well in school.  But at what point do we put so much expectation on parents that it's downright difficult to do?  I consider myself relatively smart and resourceful, but this one got right past me like a bird heading south for the winter.  And I can't help but wonder how difficult it would have been to just send a freaking note home at the end of last week.  Heck, I would have even settled for a mass email.

The fact of the matter is that everyone--parents, teachers, and kids--are pushed beyond maximum capacity these days.  Expectations fly high on every side of the fence.  And when expectations are so high and people disappoint, then for some reason human beings seem to feel they have the right to be downright short, or even rude.

So hey chorus lady, don't get your panties in a wad.  The kid will be there with her pants and shoes and shirt by December 7, the next date for a performance (thanks for letting me know that today, by the way, because I couldn't find it anywhere else).  And you'd get a lot farther with parents if you wrote with a little respect (saying hello, goodbye, or even signing your name) than acting as if I were a kid you'd love to send to in-school suspension--even if you feel like you would.

There now.  I said what I wanted to say, and we can all go back to our day.  Have a good one, and whatever you do, don't forget your dress pants.

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