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In which I do not understand the defensiveness

It's late afternoon. Emma is passed out in the bouncy seat, Jack and Molly are eating popcorn and watching Curious George. I'm posting now, because later tonight I am escaping the madness and going to dinner with my real life ladies, one of whom is turning Thirty-Five. Thirty-five! I said, "Why are we not going to Vegas? Or New York? Or DISNEYLAND?" Heads up to my ladies: we are totally going to Disneyland when I turn thirty-five. And you Disney haters can go jump off a bridge. 

ANYWAY. The Therapist just left. Good times! I spend half my time with her thinking, "This is so neat!" and the other half thinking, "She is probably wishing I would just shut up, already. SHUT UP, ME." 

So I'm sitting here now trying to think up names for the cake blog. Which, by the way, will not be a Cakewrecks ripoff. The FPC and I are both fans of Cakewrecks and could never do justice to even the ripoff of Cakewrecks. No, we are hoping to rip off The Food Whore, only it will be set in a bakery and will not be nearly as funny. (And can I just say? WE MISS THE FOOD WHORE.) I am probably going to end up writing a lot of these stories because the FPC is lacking in internet (I KNOOOOOOOW) and I'm not sure how that's going to work, but still. CAKE WACKADOOS. I will keep you posted. 

What else was I going to tell you? OH RIGHT. The Catholic school and how they are Sapping My Will To Live. 

Okay, that is a smidge dramatic. They are fine. Jack is really enjoying preschool this year. It is ME who has issues, not least with the entire forests being sacrificed for all the fundraising reminders. I've just had... well, there is some communication breakdown with the Catholic preschool. Remember when I just happened to call the school office about something and found out the first day was a whole week earlier than I thought? STUFF LIKE THAT. 

I'm willing to take a lot of responsibility for communication breakdowns. I'm having them with Molly's school too, but that's basically about me not responding to emails etc. on account of the new baby in our house and my brain working on fumes. I OWN THE FUMES, people. I am MORE than ready to say I might have misplaced something or forgot or whatever. But then there are times when something is CLEARLY NOT MY FAULT and I expect the other party to own THEIR fumes. Right? 

But, well, okay, so there was the time Jack's teacher swore up and down that she entered my email address correctly when she clearly DID NOT enter my email address correctly and I had PROOF in the form of an email in which my email address was NOT ENTERED CORRECTLY. And you know what? I do not think this is a big deal. And I just threw it out there! "Hey, Teacher! You forgot the 'a' in my email address! Everyone does! Can you add it in next time? No biggie! Thanks!" 

I expect the teacher to say, "Oops! I'll double check next time! Thanks for letting me know!" 

I do not expect the teacher to say, "No, I'm SURE I put the 'a' in your address. I KNOW I put the 'a' in your address. I will go back and check tonight because I AM ULTRA SUPER DUPER ABSOTIVELY SURE that I put the 'a' in your address. I'm sure you are WRONG." 

That's just... I mean, WHY? Why are you so defensive? I was not at ALL accusatory or upset or even irritated! IT'S NOT A BIG DEAL! WHO CARES! JUST ADD THE 'A'! 

And can I just say that this conversation continued over the space of several preschool drop offs? I am not even kidding. WHATEVER. 

THIS time it was about preschool conferences. And don't even get me started about preschool CONFERENCES. If I were to do this aaaaall over again, I would put Molly and Jack in the same school in classes that started at the same time and ended at the same time and lasted four-ish hours including lunch AND ALSO would not be a preschool affiliated with an Actual School because DEAR GOD we are doing PRESCHOOL CONFERENCES? Can't my kids just go grind play dough into someone else's rug for a few hours and we'll call it good? /rant

So apparently we were supposed to schedule a conference? I have to admit I didn't even know we were DOING conferences until I got the parent letter in an email (she remembered the 'a'!) saying "don't forget to turn in your purple form to schedule a conference." Apparently this purple form was handed out with other papers we received last week? In the special folder? About which there is ANOTHER communication story which I will try very hard to refrain from sharing? 

Needless to say I did not have this purple form. Because I have learned a thing or two, I bypassed the teacher completely and just called the school office to schedule my conference. No big deal, right? I'm sure there were other people who misplaced their form and plenty of people calling to schedule things. 

Of course, I forgot that my very first Communication Issue with this school had to do with the office. AHEM. So I call and I am extra polite and cheerful and my voice is just DRIPPING with "I am not calling to make a problem for you, I am actually a very nice, very pleasant person and maybe one day I will bring you cookies." I tell the secretary that I need to schedule a conference. 

She goes, "HMM." 

And even though I had made myself SWEAR that I would not bring up the Missing Purple Form, I felt compelled to give an explanation for my phone call. I cannot help myself. I had to EXPLAIN. To DEFEND my phone call, if you will. 

So STUPID ME, I say, "I know we were supposed to fill out a purple form, but I didn't receive one. I thought I'd just call instead."

WHY GOD WHY DID I OPEN MY MOUTH?

The secretary says, in a voice that drips with "you are making a problem for me and your cookies probably taste like feet": "You didn't get the packet? The packet that goes home with all the kids? It was STAPLED to the packet. I'm not sure how you didn't receive the form since it was STAPLED to the packet."

And I said, "...?"

I mean, do they think I am LYING TO THEM? Do they think I am doing this FOR FUN? Do they think I am making stuff up? And even if they do, WHAT IS THE POINT OF HARANGUING ME ABOUT THE STUPID STAPLED PACKET? 

Out of the goodness of her heart, she agreed to schedule my conference over the phone. She put the phone down and I COULD HEAR HER GRUMBLING IN THE BACKGROUND! And when she comes back she is STILL griping about the PACKET!

"You know, we have volunteers come in and put these things together, so I can't say for sure that it went home with the kids or not. But it seems like none of you got the form."

WHAT?! I said, quite nicely, "None of us?"

"I don't think any of the pre-K parents got the form. I'll have to call all of you to schedule the conferences. You shouldn't have to call us. That's not a very good introduction to the school."

AAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

Okay, so I realize this is all stupid stuff and has nothing to do with My Child's Education or the Quality Of The Teachers and all that, but MAN does this make me not want to send my kid there. And I'm already thinking I'm not going to send my kid there. Catholic school is expensive, and because we cannot bring ourselves to switch parishes, this Catholic school in particular would be MORE expensive. I've done a lot more research on the local public school options and they seem JUST FINE if not KINDA COOL. And because we don't want to switch parishes (though we have yet to honestly DISCERN this) I'm more likely to do Catholic school, if we go the Catholic school route, at my OWN church. I don't particularly love what Jack does in preschool (though HE really likes it, which is important) which is, in itself, not a great introduction to the school. So this communication stuff is ICING ON AN ALREADY TASTELESS CAKE. 

More cake! Must name the cake blog! Must EAT cake! THAT would make me feel better!

Comments

Jessica

I cannot WAIT for this cake blog. You're not making me look forward to preschool, though.

Jennifer

Omg I don't know how you kept yourself from reaching through the phone and shoving a f*&^%$# stapler down her throat! The frustration! Oh I can FEEL it!

Rachel

My three year old goes to after care and is the only kid in his class who does so. So his 'communication folder' is in a different spot from the rest of his class. And it is empty, from day one to now. I can SEE HIS CLASS'S FOLDERS! They are full of notes! He has none. Why can I not get his info? I will bring cookies to the parties, I will send him to school with a triangle shape, I JUST NEED COMMUNICATION!

I feel you. That's what I meant to say.

Shannon

We had preschool conferences here too, and the school is not attached to any church. Just letting you know. :) Maybe preschool conferences are normal now? Don't know. Of course the Halloween blizzard canceled them, so the teachers ended up doing phone conferences. Which was great b/c it lasted all of two minutes!

Morgan S.

We had a preschool conference today regarding my daughter - one topic of discussion is that she is having trouble making friends - and I discovered there is a MEAN GIRL that won't let her play with the other girls in the class. I. Can't. Even!!!!!!!!! They said they are aware of this girl and try to intervene when they see it happening. Part of me wants to just SHOW UP at school and figure out who this kid is and have a few words with her and HER PARENTS. So, school conferences for four years olds - the DRAMZ is already starting.

katie

Communication breakdown is The Pits. We had practically ZERO communication between parents and teachers at Jo's last two preschools. Not even notes home in the backpack. Jo seemed to enjoy going but I never had any clue about what was really going on.

This summer we signed up the girls together and the emails started coming mid-August and haven't stopped. Emails from the teachers, school secretary, principal, school parent representatives, school newsletter. Sometimes its a bit much.
But I gotta say, sending an email to say our daughter won't be at school (she's sick) or that I'm in the neighborhood and will pick her up (don't send her home on the bus!) just feels so much easier than making a call and having to talk to a human being. But maybe that's just me.

Elsha

First of all, I am inviting myself to your Disney celebration when you turn thirty-five. Just a heads up.

All these school communication problems make me really not look forward to dealing with preschool. Or school in general.

Maureen

I'm hesitant to comment at the risk of sounding negative but I can't help myself! I'm a 20 year veteran of Catholic schools. The defensiveness - yep! The office attitude - yep! I will tell you, my oldest is currently a freshman in college and is doing beautifully but if I had to do it all over again, I'm not sure I would have gone the same route. The Catholic high school they attended was phenomenal but the rigidity of the elementary school years was pretty tough. Our youngest is now in a Montessori school.

Ashley

Oh, man. I'm having similar issues with Haley's school. She goes on Tuesdays and Thursdays and their "special folders" go home on Thursday and you bring them back the following Tuesday. One Thursday she came home with a form in her folder about school pictures. (There was no date on this form. This is important.) I filled out the form, wrote the check, and sent it back in the folder on Tuesday. Turns out the pictures were THAT VERY DAY and because no one thought to CHECK HER FOLDER FOR THE FORM, Haley did not get her picture taken. I was PISSED.

We had conferences, too, to discuss assessments the teacher did with each child. So I get to the conference (which I had scheduled a week prior) and we get halfway through it and the assessment wasn't complete. SHE DIDN'T FINISH ASSESSING MY CHILD AND DID NOT EVEN REALIZE IT UNTIL SHE WAS GOING OVER IT WITH ME. That's when I started to seriously consider finding another school. I haven't done it yet, but it's still a possibility.

End rant.

Jaimie

So I can't speak to how the Catholic affiliation plays into things, because I have zero experience with that. But I do have experience with daycares and preschools. And my guess is that the teacher reacted that way to you because other parents have complained about the same thing. And she's been told to be careful entering email addresses already, and yet she is still not doing what she is supposed to.

The whole interaction would concern me, honestly, because what happens if you start to have real concerns? If you get worried about your son's interaction with another child, or if you want to discuss his learning style ow whatever.... are these people going to hear you out? I hope so, but they don't sound very approachable, and they should really be one of your best sources of information about your child and about what is going on when you're not around. Talking about these sorts of things shouldn't feel like a confrontation you have to dread.

(I do think that conferences are very common. This is because the teachers are supposed to be relaying info to you about what is going on in the classroom. This is what you're paying for, so feel free to take full advantage and ask what he's like when you're not there, what's he's learning, who his best friend is, etc.)

HereWeGoAJen

HA! This is why when everyone is like "why haven't you put Elizabeth in preschool yet?" and I am like "I don't feel like it..." Because THIS is why I don't feel like it, because of all this extra WORK. I'll do it later, when Elizabeth gets older to Jack and Molly age. (Okay, so she is Molly's age, but whatever.)

Carrie

Communication for preschool is a giant pain in the butt. GIANT. I spent three months last year trying to get our phone number changed in the system. Every time I would think I got it fixed, someone would get it wrong again. And my son's teacher has scheduled two home visits this school year and not shown up for either one. And never called. And never replied to the voice mail Daniel left her about it.

I feel your pain, my friend. Am so excited about your cake blog! Love cake in all forms! Even reading about it is fabulous!

Mark

I do everything humanly possible to connect with my students' parents, because every good teacher knows the parent-teacher relationship is CRITICAL. I'm sorry to hear these woes...I have been blessed to have worked with amazing, bend-over-backwards, polite teachers, staff, and administrators in both public and private schools. When it comes down to it, are they acting in the best interest of your child? Most likely so...hang in there...just sounds like a bumpy start.

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