When Bubba started 1st graded we got two surprises: the first was that the 1st grade teacher that we were acquainted with was NOT going to be Bubba’s teacher (she already had an idea of Bubba’s academic struggles and I was comfortable in the knowledge that she was going to do her best to help Bubba out) and the second was that Bubba was so nervous about being in first grade, she cried on the first day of school and begged me to take her home. On that day, I knew my baby girl was really going to need me for moral and academic support. And I had made myself a lot of promises to be on that PTA Board and attend all the school meetings and fundraisers, and volunteer all of my free time so that Bubba would know that I took her education seriously. I figured Bubba’s teacher was going to do her part, so I had to do mine.
Only a few months into the year, I started questioning Bubba’s teacher’s (Mrs. T) dedication to the educational well being of my daughter. The first red flag was when my mom went to go pick up Bubba in my absence ( I was at work) , Mrs. T almost didn’t release Bubba into my mother’s care because she said she had never seen my mom before. WTF?! My mom and myself are the only ones who pick this child up from school and at that point, Mom had picked her up plenty of times as well as introduced herself as Bubba’s grandmother. It pissed me off, but I let it go. The second red flag was on Bubba’s school picture day,which required her to be in uniform , I sent her to school looking like the quintessential school girl. I asked her how it went and she said her class didn’t take pictures. I asked Mrs. T about it and she said her classwas never called down to the auditorium. I informed Mrs, G ( who is in charge of scheduling events for the school) and she was totally unaware that Mrs. T’s class didn’t take pictures and said she would have to reschedule them to take it. I was furious because I couldn’t understand why Mrs T, who was fully aware that the entire school was taking class pictures, did not simply call down to Mrs. G and tell her that 208 had yet to take their pictures. Now, I wouldn’t know when the photographers would be back and Bubba won’t be ready. She could be absent, or not looking photo ready.Aside from those incidents and a few others, in general I just didn’t feel a real connection with Mrs. T. Bubba was indifferent to her and that worried me a little because she was so in love with Mrs. S, her kindergarten teacher.
The vibes I got from Mrs. T were frustrating and they prompted me to slack off a little with Bubba. The unwritten partnership between myself and the teacher just seemed one sided and I was done breaking my back with no reciprocation. Unfortunately, Bubba was the one paying for my frustrations with Mrs T. Last week, I finally had an opportunity to sit down with Mrs. T for an impromptu parent/teacher conference. She said that Bubba was very wise for her age, insightful, and is full of great ideas. She was very respectful to her teachers and peers and was a very delightful student. Of course I grinned ear to ear when hearing those things. Mrs T was simply confirming what I already knew but of course I could never tire of hearing good things about Bubba.Then the bottom fell out.
Mrs, T presented me with Bubba’s report card and her grades in Math and reading were atrocious. Her schools’s grading system uses the numbers 1 through 4, with 1 being below standard and 4 being above standard. Bubba’s report card contained mostly 1s and 2s and I was just so crestfallen, I held my head down like I was in front of the principal’s office. Mrs. T explained that Bubba had improved in Reading and Math since the school year started her grades were bad because of her poor attendance. I immediately wanted to kick my own ass when I heard that. Mrs. T explained that because Bubba had poor attendance, she misses new topics and the reviews for those topics. When its time to be tested, she is lost and usually fails. Mrs. T said it upsets her that Bubba fails the quizzes because she is sure that had she been in school when the material was being taught, she would have aced them.
I thought about Bubba’s recent week long absence from school due to ringworm and then I thought about her week long absence a few weeks before that. She’s been absent at least one week each month. In my mind the reasons for her absences made sense to me but in reality I knew they wouldn’t fly with Mrs. T. So, I just sat at the tiny little desk that usually made me feel ten feet tall and started feeling about a foot tall.Bubba had been absent when she exhibited any sign of a cold, or if her usual sleep schedule was off and she went to bed at 4am when she had to be up at 6:45am, when I was so exhausted from work and just didn’t have the strength to get myself out of bed at that unGodly hour, or simply because my mom and Bubba would gang upon me and beg me to let her stay home.
The tables had turned and the teacher that I thought was so nonchalant and lazy had now become the hero and me the villain. How did I let this happen? Me…who is always freakishly worried about being on time? Me…who had just been fired from her job for attendance issues? I felt like the worst mom ever and I wanted to cry. The final nail in the coffin was when Mrs. T revealed to me that Scholastic had published an actual book of the class’ original stories written by the students. Bubba had written a first draft but was absent from school so another student had to edit and rewrite it for the book, so Bubba’s original story was written in the book in another student’s handwriting. I had also learned that Bubba missed the week when the children started learning how to write a personal narrative. I would have loved to have seen my baby being a writer like her mom and I was so proud of her for becoming a published author. I still haven’t done that!
I vowed right then and there that Bubba would never miss another day of school until the end of the school year. I don’t know how I let my personal (almost personal?) gripes against mrs. T make me lose sight of what was most important: Bubba. Bubba now has a “promotion in doubt’ and she will only stand a chance of going to second grade if she misses absolutely NO more school until June.I learned a lesson in all this: Mrs. T was not an incompetent moron like I thought but rather a person who had to take time away from the entire class to give extra help to Bubba because of my irresponsible behavior. That caused her to sometimes miss the broader details. I apologized profusely to Bubba but she didn’t seem to understand why. If Bubba doesn’t get promoted it will break her heart and I will be the one who did it.Way to go, mom…