I wouldn’t wait in line for 45 minutes to get into my favorite restaurant, and believe me I love good food.
I’m just not one of those people who camps out all night for concert tickets or the latest Harry Potter book, a limited edition toy, or even for a big giveaway.
I Do Not Like To Wait In Line. In fact, I Hate it. I don’t even like to wait at the doctor’s office. My experience has been that whatever it is you wait for is never as good as you tell yourself it’s gonna be while you’re waiting in line.
But for my kid, I would do just about any thing. Yup, even wait in line, way too long, for a parent/teacher conference no less.
It was a bit crazy really.
Last night at Truman High School parent/teacher conferences were from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. I got there about 6 p.m. thinking that an hour would be plenty of time to see the teachers I needed to. I didn’t think the conference with each teacher would take very long since Jordan is doing pretty well in all of his classes. By 8 p.m. I expected to be relaxing in the family room well into one of my Monday night television programs.
The wait for the first couple of teachers I had to visit was maximum 5 minutes. Then came Advance Placement English.
Now I really had to see this teacher because I had, had an e-mail conversation last month when Jordan forgot to turn in an assignment and the mistake cost him a bunch of points on his grade. So of course I wanted to find out how he’s been doing in there since then.
The line outside his English teacher’s classroom was about 12 parents deep. You got to be kidding me. What is this woman, a rock star? I was like, heck no. I am not going to wait in this line.
So I went to visit some other teachers. I was thinking, I’ll come back and by then the line will be shorter.
Parent/teacher night, at least in the suburban districts is very well attended. These parents, most of them anyway, take this stuff seriously. They show up.
As I walked through the halls I noticed some pretty hefty lines outside the doors of quite a few classes.
I passed them up and looked for the shortest line. I ended up in the Orchestra room. No one was waiting outside that door. Yes! I walked right in and chatted with his teacher for a few minutes. She loves him. He’s doing great. No problem.
Back down the hall passed a few long lines. And I thought to myself, my kid would really have to be screwing up in class for me to wait in one of those lines. Heck, even then I think I’d just opt for sending the teacher an e-mail the next day or give them a call on my lunch break.
So after I visited a few more teachers - Spanish and science. No lines, same speech from the teachers. I went back to the English classroom, and wouldn’t you know it, the line was even longer. I started to leave, I think I even said it out loud “I’m not waiting. I’m leaving. I’ll send an e-mail.”
But then this big wave of guilt washed over me. Actually it was more like a voice I just couldn’t ignore.
WHAT KIND OF PARENT ARE YOU NOT TO VISIT YOUR SON’S TEACHER ON A NIGHT SET ASIDE SPECIAL FOR TEACHERS TO TALK WITH PARENTS.
OK, OK! I’ll wait.
So I got in the line. Within a few minutes I was chatting with the husband and wife in front of me. Their son, had gone to middle school with my son. I didn’t know their son and had never met them before. But after last night I’ll never forget them. We talked about our kids and how different each of them are. We talked about how different public school is today compare to the way it was when we were in school. Actually I think I had them by at least 10 years, age wise.
The two women behind me also chimed into the conversation and before long we were all talking kids, school, and even about the best places to go out to eat when you have kids. I think Taco Bell won for its amazingly inexpensive menu. Plus kids love just about anything covered with ground beef, tomato sauce and melted cheese. Mine do at least. They could inject the stuff.
Turns out that I might hate waiting in line, but I love talking with parents about kids. I was great getting to know them and sharing stories about our kids and about some of the things going on in the school that I hadn’t heard about.
Before we knew it we were right outside the classroom door. By the way, before we got to talking to each other, all of us parents were grumbling about the long lines.
I think, in the future teachers should limit parents to three minutes, no matter how poorly Johnny is doing. If your kid is doing that poorly you need to make an appointment for a private, lengthy conversation when half the parents in the school aren’t waiting outside the door.
So, finally I get in.
“I’m Jordan Williams’ mom.”
She tells me she loves him. She pulls out his grade card and says he‘s a good student. He made one mistake by forgetting to turn in a paper, but he‘s back on track, involved in class discussions and he’s doing very well.
I said that’s what I wanted to hear. She took a minute to tell me a story about how Jordan shared his feelings about a book with the class one day. I put my John Hancock on the parent sign-in sheet proving that I’d been there, shook her hand and left. I almost got applause from the parents in the hall when I walked out of there in five minutes. It was after 8 p.m. when I walked out of the school.
I’d waited about 45 minutes for nothing too earth shattering. But the wait was a good one. I met some really nice parents who care an awful lot about their kids, want the best for them and were willing to stand in line for as long as it took to make sure they met the teachers responsible for educating their child.
Shame on me for fussing about it. Our kids are definitely worth the wait.