I returned a couple days ago from a long meeting with upper administration. Among topics that consumed solid blocks of time over the roughly six hour meeting: should teachers get pizza or hot dogs for Teacher Appreciation week, should the chorus concert be on one or two nights, and do bilingual teachers need to actually know how to speak Spanish. Oh, and course, I can't forget (sadly) blaming teachers for all the problems the Masters of the Universe can't figure out. Please don't try to do administrative work without advanced schooling and state certification. It's complicated stuff. But I digress.
When returning to school from any lengthy period away, there are always headaches waiting. The other day it was a call from Mrs. Quills, a parent of a first grader. I didn't really know her very well. They were new to the school this year, and she wasn't an active parent.
My secretary explained that Mrs. Quills requested to come in and eat with her son in the lunchroom. This is not something we typically allow parents to do. If a parent wants to eat with their kid, we allow them to do it in a conference room. We've found this cuts down on parents bringing in Happy Meals for their kids while their classmates gnaw on Roast Beef Bubbly.
My secretary explained that we didn't typically allow this, and offered her option B. Mrs. Quills was insistent. When pressed for a underlying concern about the lunchroom, she revealed her son could not eat if other children were talking & chewing at the same time, playing in their food, and 'being gross.' She was outraged that table manners didn't make it into the Common Core Standards and then apparently babbled on about Montessori Schools she knew of.
Now, you literally would have better luck teaching 1st graders that the outer most fork is for salad then you would trying to get them to not talk & chew at the same time. I called Mrs. Q back and she repeated through cigarette drags (and thick phlegmy coughs) the whole tale. Before I'd even got a chance to respond, she launched into how little I cared about kids apparently.
Mom then went into how she can't send him with a lunch because the jelly turns brown by lunch time and kids laugh (Can anyone tell me what jelly turns brown?). This too apparently results in a hunger strike from her son. Mrs. Quills, outraged that I would not change district curriculum to include table manners, demanded that she be allowed to come to school and teach the other first graders how to chew. No amount of explaining that fighting the talking/eating thing with six year olds was a bad battle to fight would back her off
I couldn't actually decide which would be worse: Mrs. Quills calling the Superintendent given that she's obviously insane (hey, I gotta mortgage payment too folks!) or actually allowing her around other children. I kept waiting for Ashton Kutcher to run in and tell me I was being "punk'd." He didn't.
We actually observed her son that day since we hadn't noticed a problem and his teacher said he never complained of hunger. He ate his entire lunch without prompting.
I have an upcoming meeting scheduled with the mom where I'll probably get her to relax (there is some craft to administration...).... otherwise, look for a Part II to this tale...... This issue has taken several hours of my time and isn't resolved yet.... instructional leader my ass....