Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Parent/Teacher Conference Report

My son Jalen started first grade just over two months ago.

He's an extreme creature of habit who prefers a familiar routine and is easily shaken up by some of the inevitable changes that accompany a young child's life.

In September 2007, he started preschool after spending three years in home daycare. On Jalen's first day, he set a new physiological record for the human race by filling his eyes with two pints of tears without spilling a drop down his cheeks during the drive over. (Mrs. Bootleg and I were spectacularly less successful.)

The teachers sent him home with pictures taken from his first day – in an attempt to show us how well he'd adjusted. The look on Jalen's face – as he stood petrified on the playground in one snapshot and quietly weeping into his uneaten lunch in another – foreshadowed a long transition period in which I often had to crowbar his backside out of the car seat when we arrived every morning.

Three years later, most of you remember
how that chapter turned out.

This past August, he began first grade at a new school. Jalen would really have to work hard to top the maladjusted moments from his first day at preschool. And – credit where it's due – he did! On his first day of first grade, he got sick and came home early. A short time later, Jalen was diagnosed with migraine headaches. My six-year-old son is bringing the medicinal drama at an 11th grade level, y'all.

The transition to his new school is mostly complete, though. Jalen now sprints to his classroom each morning after spending the first few weeks trying to hide behind my beanpole body when we arrived. His excitement for "Pizza Friday" is palpable. And, Jalen has identified the classmate who'll be his (latest) next wife.
That's how he rolls.

Last Friday, Mrs. Bootleg and I attended our first parent/teacher conference of the new school year. I'd spent the morning at work struggling to push a proposal out the door. By the time our 1:00 PM appointment arrived, we were waiting outside Jalen's classroom in near 100 degree
Santa Ana-inspired heat.

Suffice it to say, I was wound nice and tight. So, with 48 hours to reflect on the discussion, let's try'n find some talking points from Jalen's written report.

Works well without disturbing others -- This is one of nearly three dozen(!) "personal development" categories where the kids are assigned a score of 1 ("beginning"), 2 ("developing") or 3 ("secure"). I'll share a conversation I had with Jalen early Sunday morning in lieu of revealing his actual score:

Jalen: "Daddy, wake up! It's November 7! I'm 6 ¾ years old today!"

Me: "Jalen…[inoffensive expletive] it's 6:00 AM!"

Jalen: "No, it's not. It's 5:55…"

"Jalen shows great enthusiasm when given the opportunity to share his ideas aloud and sometimes requires reminders to raise his hand."

Yup. My son's preferred method of shoehorning himself into ANY conversation is to talk louder and longer than everyone else in the room. He's a little black filibuster.

Standardized Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) Score -- Jalen scored a tick above the school district's average in mathematics. I want Mrs. Bootleg to remember this the next time she's giving me s**t about showing our son how to calculate his own batting average.

"Jalen is great in P.E.! We just need to work on his emotions."

Every weeknight, around the dining room table at Stately Bootleg Manor, Jalen will share the events of his day with us. If he had a "great" day, I'll guarantee that P.E. was prominently involved. If he had a "not-so-good" day, I'll guarantee that P.E. was prominently involved. My son likes to control the ball, make the rules (often on the fly) and win. And, each of these three requirements is as important as the next.

A few months ago, Jalen asked if he could take golf lessons and Mrs. Bootleg was actually considering it. This kid would spontaneously combust under the tenets of such an unforgiving sport.

"Jalen is SO articulate!"

And, it begins.


SHough610 said...

"My son's preferred method of shoehorning himself into ANY conversation is to talk louder and longer than everyone else in the room." Sounds like Jalen has a future on cable news programs!

I have played maybe 45 holes of non-mini golf in my life. And I realized the only reason to play is if you're really good or like to get spectacularly hammered playing. As hypercompetitive as Jalen is, he'll be launching his putter into the woods... Not that I did that.

In defense of the "articulate" comment, most six year olds need subtitles. I also got the "articulate" comment, apparently that was the polite way to say I liked to talk.

Lew B said...

Dude, let's set up Jalen with his own blog!

Then we could have other first graders (me) post comments like,

"I like cake."

"Jalen hit me today"

"I pulled on Madison's hair and the teacher got mad at me."

It would be great.

But then he would be the only little kid sitting around saying, "Does anyone read my blog?"

Never mind.

Elena said...

OK, so Little Black Filibuster is the name of my new electroclash band from Brooklyn. I promise to credit you in the liner notes of our single-press vinyl.

Also, in calling Jalen 'articulate', his teacher might not have been being racially condescending. It could have been ageism as well, or maybe his ability to cuss like an expert has made an impression. Or else it's code for 'next President of the United States'. (I'm bucking for b) and c), myself.)

Aaron C. said...

@Elena -- Yeah, the wife was none too pleased at my interpretation of the "articulate" comment. I'm inclined to side with you on this one. 30-some years of hearing it myself, in some form, with quasi-regularity probably skewed my thinking.

@Sam -- My favorite line from the P/T conference that I didn't use here:

We enjoy all the wonderful stories Jalen shares. Sometimes his stories have little to do with the class discussion at the time, but we listen and enjoy them, nonetheless!

If that ain't proof he's my son AND reading this lightly-read blog, I don't know what is.

Other Joe said...

At least the teacher didn't day "he speaks so well" Cam.