LE’s teacher Mrs. Z was gently molded and hand-patted from the clay of humanity into the perfect form of “Kindergarten Teacher.” She is slight and cheerful, in her early 20’s, with crystal blue eyes as wide and guiless as the babies she teaches.

She laid what she called “a rubric” in front of me today at the Parent Teacher conference. It was long and confusing, a long way away from the soft-ink printed reports of my youth. Where you were either Not Satisfactory, Satisfactory, or Excellent in 6 subjects and 3 behaviors. Instead there were numbers and cryptic abbreviations and sub-categories I couldn’t decode.

After a few minutes she swiped it out from under me, “Let’s look at that later!” she said. The she stopped. “Was I wrong to take that away from you just now? I’m sorry. I work with kids all day and I want you to look at me. Instinct, sorry.”

I am sick today, drugged and tired. I shrugged at her. “Your party, lady.”

I was scowling at the “rubric” instead of paying attention to her because…it seemed to be saying my child wasn’t a genius. It seemed to be indicating she was entirely average, and actually a little lacking in some parts.

Her father is a bona fide freaky brain genius. I was “talented and gifted” (HA!) And LE…Mrs. Z seemed to be telling me she was regular. That means “not special.”

And that she tattled too much. (She can’t STAND it when people break rules). She was sometimes over-sensitive. Handwriting and word recognition needs work. She didn’t quite know her phone number or birthday. And a billion other tiny things.

“Her artwork is really amazing,” Mrs. Z offered. “And she’s so full of JOY.”

I sighed and lowered my too-tightly bra-ed chest onto the table between us, laying my head on my arms. “I don’t think you’re lying when you compliment her….I just think that you find something nice to say about all the kids.”
“Well…yeah. There is something great about ALL my kids.”
I nod vigorously as I can, yeah yeah yeah totally right sure.
“I just…I guess I just wanted to hear you say she was a genius and tell me all the stuff she does better than the rest of the kids. Instead I find all these predictions that you made for her at the start of the year that are unmet. This…rubric.”
I was rambling in a sleepy, Nyquilled way, not accusing. I know Mrs. Z is a good teacher.

I asked if I could go home. As I stood she said, “Oh hey, thanks for being honest with me.”
“I don’t choose it,” I told her. “It’s really more a verbal vomit than an honesty. And I just wanted LE to be the best.”
“LE is fine,” she said. “And never, ever tell her you need that from her. It will seriously mess her up.”

I know, I know.

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