I’ve been feeling a little stressed on and off recently, nothing too bad, just enough to remind me that I’m alive and I have to work hard at simplifying life and not sweating the small stuff.
But then I went to Missy’s parents evening at school.
She’s in a good school, great school actually, phenomenal even.
They teach to a high standard, they expect a great deal from all their students, and they provide a safe environment for the children to become adults.
The children still have challenges and have to negotiate the social structure, but it is not brutal like many other establishments and the spats are quickly over.
They nurture when necessary, and get super strict when that’s required too.
They took her in when she’d had challenges elsewhere, and they didn’t give up on her when she demonstrated her “less than mainstream” view of the world.
When you are a mum to a headstrong teen and you ask them about their day, you get to hear about how much fun they had at lunch and how they’re “failing every class, ugh, I don’t even know why I bother”.
And you worry.
You prod them to get them to school on time, with the right kit and the right attitude, and the right homework, but you worry a little.
Then they have a temper a few times to get you to try and give up on them, which for 10 minutes after the fact you want to capitulate but then you dust yourself off and go at this parenting lark again.
Missy’s tempers are a sight to behold.
In a temper she’s fierce, intense, articulate and she’s tall, and she is immovable and imposing, and bristly, and it can – for a lesser mortal than I – be a scary sight to behold.
What people see is frightening, but the reality of the situation is that she is in a heated moment, trying to communicate a distress at an injustice.
She’s just so tall and imposing that even though she is still, she’s often considered to be a worry.
So, parents evening.
You sit in front of 9 of their teachers for the exam courses they’re studying.
And the teachers ask the child to tell them how she thinks she’s doing.
And they listen and then tell her the good things.
They remind her and tell me about the good grades.
The tell me about the great behaviour and attitude she’s exhibiting (whooohooooo! She’s a hard kid to raise).
And they set goals and tell get her to buy in to the strategy that will take her where she is from to where she could be.
To hear that her teachers are very fond of her, that they appreciate what a great kid she is, that they’re pushing her as they should, and that they are affirming she should enter law school or med school or enter the International Economics arena when she graduates is music to my ears, and to her ears too.
“You are a strong woman, Missy, and you are going to go far, you just need to get organised and here is how you do that….”
“You have a vast body of knowledge and you apply it well which is a delight in the class and increases your grades”.
“You managed yourself very well when you were feeling stressed today in class, next time could you…..”
“You have to hand in your homework even if you feel it could have been better, to give you a mark, we have to see it…”
One teacher caught me by the arm after Missy walked out to the corridor between appointments and asked
“Is she as intense at home? Wow, my hat goes off to you, you manage so well and you are doing phenomenally. We really appreciate everything you have done to bring her to this point, she’s amazing and we can see her growth. You are a powerful parent to her and she is blessed because of it”.
And all of a sudden, I was a little less stressed, and I could concentrate on the things which needed my attention.