Apparently, there is a new parenting style that has emerged. They are called "snowplow parents" and they work to remove every possible obstacle from their child's life so that their kid can just move through life with great success avoiding any potential run-ins with failure. Elementary teachers are not the only ones who encounter these parents. They're also turning up at colleges and universities to advocate for their children. They've even been spotted by HR directors at the child's workplace or potential workplace.
I wish I could say that I wasn't seeing any evidence of this in my room but I think I may be. Recently, a parent made a written request that I make changes to seating and locker assignments because of a conflict her child was having with another. The mom has also reached out to me to seek my assurance that her child be able to visit the nurse whenever a request is made.
At this point in the school year, while I'm still getting to know the kids, all requests to visit the nurse are honored. No biggie. The other request is more troubling.
I took a deep breath when I got the email but in all honesty I was a little upset. I don't like it when parents go to extreme measures to solve problems like this. It is so early in the school year and the kids are trying to figure one another out and I'm learning about them too. More importantly, it sends kids the message that I don't think they're capable of solving their own problems and that they need me to step in and save the day. I planned to call the mom during lunch in an attempt to talk her out of such a drastic reaction.
When we got on the phone she explained the situation in detail as well as problems that had arisen in the child's past with other mean children. She alleged that the child was victim of bullying both by the students and a previous teacher. She felt strongly that the move be made. I explained that decisions like this have consequences too and that the other children in the class will wonder about the changes.
The truth of the matter here is that both kids seem exceptionally sweet. I have serious concerns around how the accused child will handle the changes. It certainly isn't going to send a warm and fuzzy, "you're welcome here" message. I worry deeply about the consequences for BOTH kids. I especially worry about how having the road cleared of all obstacles will impact this child in the future.
Over the course of our phone conversation the mother provided compelling reasons to move the seat and locker. She was very convincing. My heart still told me that moving the child was a bad idea but after explaining the limited options and potential consequences the mom was still adamant. I decided to go ahead with the move.
Here is why I decided to fold. I know I can work to lift the second child up and assure that the impact of this mother's decision is minimal. While the long term consequences for her child may be undesirable, I have decided to honor this parents knowledge of her child and knowledge of what is best for the student. I cannot and will not pretend to know what is best for any child. That is the job of parent. As a parent, I'm often unsure when it comes to my own children's best interest. Parenting is such hard work. I've decided to trust this parent. The consequences are not on me. I know this yet my heart still hurts for this kiddo. Every fiber of my being is telling me this is a bad idea.
Trusting is hard.