This is an actual statement—about me!—from one of my boys’ teachers:
“I really appreciate how relaxed you are about his schoolwork.”
That sound you just heard? That was the collective gasp of every friend I’ve ever had, since I became a parent.
People say a lot of things about me. Some say I’m focused. Intense. I care deeply about education. I think too much. I’m too hard on my son. I need to lighten up.
But relaxed? I don’t hear that one quite as often.
So I smiled, a long, slow smile when this teacher, whom I respect and admire, handed me her very high complement. To be clear, I did defend myself. “I don’t want you to think we don’t care about education!” I exclaimed. “We just take a different approach.”
And from here, this post could go several ways. I could bog you down with the eight thousand things I think are important about kids and learning. I could bore you with details of why I strongly support the idea of a primary and secondary school Classical Education and a Liberal Arts education at the collegiate level. We could argue about when kids should learn to read or multiply. We could digress into the black hole of discussion that centers on public education in America today. My kids attend public school. We could even go there. I could tell you why I’m very glad they do or I could share reasons I’m concerned by the very same fact.
But that’s not where I’m going. Instead, I’m going to bask in the glow of that teacher’s high praise. I’m going to spend the weekend playing games with my son (yes, it’s true, they might involve math skills, or gasp!-reading). I’m going to watch the snow fall and remember why I’ve made the choices I have with regards to parenting—many of which are tied to my belief that thinking is the critical skill we teach our kids. For a few moments, I’m not going dwell on the many times I’ve fallen short as a parent or worry about the impact of my parenting choices. I’m not even going to sweat the fact that nary a boy made his bed today.
I’m just going to enjoy the happy shine of a good teacher’s words.