Monday, November 12, 2007

Excuses, Excuses

Alternative Title - Stop Encouraging Your Son To Be Such A Lazy S.O.B.

This year, I have several parents who are professional Excuse Makers. You know, I contact them about something their child has done and without fail, that parent will give me an excuse as to why it was not their precious baby's fault.

Excuse Maker: "It was MY fault that Little Angel didn't do their homework. Not his. (But he's in second grade and should be able to do it independently.) Plus, I think the directions were unclear (Yes they were.) And you forgot to remind him to do his homework before he left that day." (They have homework every night, you want me to remind him every freaking night?)

Excuse Maker: "How dare you allow Little Angel to have a bathroom accident!!! (He never asked to go to the bathroom.) It was not his fault that he held it all day and didn't ask. You should've asked HIM if he needed to go every hour so something like this could have been prevented!!" (Um, ask him every hour? Sweetie, do you need to pee pee? Yea, not going to happen. Tell him to raise his hand...he doesn't seem to have a problem asking for a drink of water every fifteen minutes."

Excuse Maker: "My little Little Angel would never take something from another child's desk!!! How dare you!?!? (But I saw her do it with my own eyes and then she lied about it....I'm concerned that...) No! No! She did not take it. I do not care what you saw! I know someone must have TOLD her to do it."


When I was little, the teacher was almost always right. In fact, I can only remember one occassion in which I got to be right. When I was in first grade (and second grade, we looped with this Nut), my teacher was a trainwreck. She called my mom one day and told her that I had been talking too much in class. Ok, so maybe I was. But so was everyone else. AND....she neglected to mention that while we were all talking, she was standing outside our classroom SMOKING and watching us through the window!!!! True story.

So, I am not chainsmoking outside my classroom. And I'm not making it up for my own sick personal benefit. I'm telling you about your child so that maybe, just maybe, you can do some parenting and help your child progress and mature. Just a thought.

I have one Little Angel who does NOT like math...or working hard for that matter. He's the type of child that will do ANYTHING to look busy when in reality, he is doing absolutely nothing productive. You know the type.

We're working with coins and the children have to come up with two ways to show a given amount using quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies. This is something that they have all done before, today is simply a refresher so that we can move on to more difficult concepts. I know they've done it before because I taught first grade last year and WE DID IT TOGETHER!!!

You can then imagine my surprise when Little Angel had done absolutely NOTHING in twenty minutes.

Me: Little Angel, what's going on? You haven't even started your work.
L.A.: I don't know.
Me: You don't know what? Do you understand what you have to do?
L.A.: I have to show 42 cents two different ways.
Me: Yes, so what's up?
L.A.: I used 42 pennies.
Me: Great! But let's think of another way, because I know that people don't usually have all those pennies in their pockets. What other coins could you use?
L.A.: I don't know.
Me: You don't know?
L.A.: I'm confused.
Me: Ok...well what other coins have we talked about?
L.A.: I don't know any other coins.
Me: You don't know any other coins!?!?
L.A.: No.
Me: Nickels?
L.A.: No.
Me: But we talked about them all last year. And yesterday. And they're on the wall. Come on, I know you can do it!
L.A.: I'm just really confused and this is hard. My father says that the cashier will make change so all I have to do is give them dollars. And my mom says when things are hard, I shouldn't let myself feel frustrated, I should just stop.
Me: (Your dad is a raging idiot...what is he doing?!? And I think I want to hit your mom right now.) Oh, but you want to know things for yourself. It's OK if this is hard, but I need to you to try a little harder. Now, let's think. How much is a nickel worth? (Remind yourself that I teach SECOND grade).
L.A.: I don't know.
Me: Do you mind if I write this all down Little Angel? Because I think your mom might be interested in all this and maybe she can help you at home too.

Conferences are Tuesday and Wednesday. I wonder what she is going to say about this one. It should be Excuse Extraordinaire!


Cathy said...

What a true and honest posting! It made me think about the excuses that my parents give as teachers can we respectfully help these parents?

Your blog makes me laugh and just take a break from what's going on in my own life! Thanks! It's nice to know other teachers deal with this as well!

17 (really 15) more years said...

UGH- just wait til Little Angel gets to be an 8th grader at risk of night graduating.

I have one like that this year- I'll call him "Lazy Sloth"- who nevers does homework, doesn't do classwork, doesn't hand in a report- and mommy doesn't understand why he's failing. Oh no wait- it's because "he's bored" and "we're not motivating him enough".

I am so looking forward to Parent Teacher conferences.....

17 (really 15) more years said...

night? wtf? I mean "not graduating". Yikes, I'm losing it.

Anonymous said...

I had a parent yell at me because I asked his son to memorize his multiplication facts. The principal actually backed the parent. We also had a mom show up in fuzzy houseshoes and robe to serve a detention her kid received. Thanks for telling it like it is!

X said...

"My mom says when things are hard, I shouldn't let myself feel frustrated, I should just stop" is both terrifying and extremely enlightening.

Joel said...

I had a conference with a parent BEFORE the school year started. We had summer band and her son was complaining that the music was too hard.

It is hard music. He (and everyone in his entire section) is behind the rest of the group.

She came up to our office after band one day and complained about him not understanding and how he said that I never helped him with it. I told her that all of the notes he had to play were notes he had learned last year (I taught him last year, so I know). I also told her that he was more than welcome to stay after band practice was over so we could work with him on it. She said that she had to pick him up during her lunch break and that wouldn't work, but that I should show up an hour early to work with him.

I explained that I couldn't guarantee that I would be there that early.

A week later, he was still struggling. Mind you, he never once mentioned anything to me. He came before band started, but just sat there.

She called my principal and the high school band director to complain that I wasn't helping her Little Angel out. We ended up setting up a conference with the principal. Mind you, this is still a week before school started.

He clarified that I had offered to help and that she needed to accept that and try to work in my schedule. We also discussed how he really should be practicing in his beginning band book to refresh his memory about the notes and everything. We scheduled a follow-up conference for the second or third week of the year.

We had our follow-up conference and she brought her husband with her this time. Again, they were disappointed that I had not been helping him. Again, I explained that he was coming before school and not asking for help. And I also reminded her that he should be using his beginning book to refresh his memory. She assured me that he had been and that he would continue to do so, but that I needed to help him more.

A few weeks later, we were using the beginning book in class and I noticed that the Little Angel didn't have one. I asked him where it was and he explained that he lost his book last year.

I asked him if he wanted me to call his mom and tell her that, or if he would tell her himself.

I haven't had a single problem from him ever since.

Mimi said...

Brilliant!!! Joel...what a little gift from above!!!

I'm glad I'm not alone on this one. Actually, one of my colleagues was telling me that when she used to teach K in a private school she actually had a VERY wealthy parent whose child was struggling say, "well, does she really have to learn how to read?" Like reading was extraneous, like juggling or something!!

I worry for these kids later in life...

Thanks again everyone for reading!

Jules said...

god bless you for being patient with these ignorant jerks of parents!

Ms. Junie said...

Oh i love this. Have seen this too..and we have more in common than you know. (I taught first grade last year too! second)

Anonymous said...

A true posting! You are fortunate L.A. parents' told you to ask him every hour if he needs to pee. For me, it was the principal!!! Apparently, it does not matter what I am teaching, the most important thin is if it is "pee time!"

Anonymous said...


Who's Peeking?