A few years ago I was at the dentist. During my examination my dentist asked how the boys were doing.
“How are they boys? I bet everyone is getting big. You have great boys. They’re really bright.” – Dentist
“Everyone is good. Thank you. Yes, they are smart guys. I’m not sure how that happened exactly. I guess they have good genes.” – Me
“Do they do well in school?” – Dentist
“Yes, thank goodness. They both work hard. We have to help them out sometimes. I am getting worried because Old Boy’s math is getting too hard for me. I’m afraid I will not be able to help him out with math much longer.” – Me
“That’s okay. You’re the mom. It isn’t your job to teach him math. That’s what teachers are for.” – Dentist
“I know, but isn’t kind of bad that I don’t know the math my child is learning. Shouldn’t the parent me more knowledgable than the child?” – Me
“Not necessarily. You role is not to teach math. You have other things to teach.” – Dentist
When my dentist and I spoke years ago I didn’t really take her message to heart. To be honest I walked away from the conversation feeling badly that I couldn’t do advanced math with my son. Old insecurities of feeling not intelligent and educated enough came flooding back.
Yesterday my dentist’s message of “You’re the mom and you have other things to teach” came up. I attended my Old Boy’s SLC. For those not in the know SLC stand for Student Lead Conference. SLC’s allow the student to lead the conference with parent and teacher. The student does a self critique of how the school year is going, their strengths and weakness and what goals they have for the upcoming school year.
The conference started with his Spanish teacher. My son spoke first and did a wonderful job of explaining what things he has learned. This is his first year in Spanish so it has challenging, but Old Boy likes a challenge. The teacher spoke second and expressed how impressed quickly he has picked up Spanish. He made several comments about the high quality of my son’s work and how much he likes the class participation my son does. It was a glowing moment as a parent to hear such wonderful things. However, as the teacher spoke I noticed my son kept interrupting the teacher.
At first I thought my son was nervous and that was why he was interrupting so much. But he did not seem nervous. Actually he seemed confident…overly confident. The conference continued with two more teachers all in the same format. Overall it went very well. I was very proud of my son. All three teachers had wonderful things to say about my son as a person and a student.
Later as we drove home in the car, my son and I discussed how the conference went. During our conversation I pointed out the interrupting behavior he had done during the conference. My son didn’t seem aware he was doing it. Earlier that day Old Boy had phoned me to request a change to his after school plans. I was running late to pick up the boys from school and told him I would discuss the issue with him in person. I tried to tell him to please check on his younger brother at his school. I say tried because Old Boy would not let me get a word in edgewise. He kept interrupting me. It was very frustrating.
As we spoke on our car ride I reminded my son about our earlier issues of interrupting. I told him the importance of allowing people to speak fully without having to worry someone would cut them off. I talked about how when he interrupted it made the other person feel what they had to say what not as important as what he had to say. The conversation went well. About half way through our talk I realized my beautiful, bright, intelligent boy still had things to learn. Things that only a mother could teach him. There would be other things I would need him to know before he heads out into the world.
Being an intelligent and wonderful student will hopefully get my son far in life. But so will being polite and kind.
It is my job as the mother to make sure my boys are polite, respectful, compassionate, patient, kind, moral, loving and hard-working. It isn’t always easy. But I can do it.
Because I’m the mom.