I just realized that before I finish writing these stats papers, or rather “analysis plans” which are completely devoid of soul and warmth, I need to blog. It’s like the writers version of “me time” where I just write for writing’s sake. Maybe you’ll read it, maybe you’ll relate. But really, really it’s just for me.

Last night I was chatting with the parent of a kid in E’s class. She was concerned that the teacher was too intimidating and that her son was shutting down in a way. I said that was not good. And that she should talk to the teacher and see what can be done to help the kid. She asked if E had said anything or if he had had any similar experiences. I said no, not that I was aware of. I felt certain about it. But then I hadn’t really asked him. And by the time me and the boys sat down to dinner, I was feeling nervous about my assumption. So I asked him:

“Hey E, ya know your science teacher? Do you have any trouble asking her for help, or speaking up in class?”

He looked up from his plate with eyebrows raised very high, his mind is already spinning, “No. Why?”

“Um, just checking. So you feel comfortable in her class?”

Now the eyebrows lower, it’s still such a trip to see my own expressions, and those of my parent’s mirrored back at me, “Comfortable… no. She’s a hard teacher. She has high expectations. Challenging is not comforting.”

“Right, right, yes… but is there a time when you want to ask a question but are, like, afraid to?”

“Mom, are you asking me if I am intimidated? Me? I, uh, err…” he pauses, all bravado gone, he’s thinking inward now, leaving me to wonder where this conversation is going to go, “I’m sort of ashamed of this, because it’s not always the nicest way to be… but I don’t let teachers be intimidating.”

He emphasized the let perfectly. This is my child. The look on his face is totally his. His own expression. Not mine, not my dad’s, not his own father’s. All E. I smile and say, “That is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s how it’s supposed to be.”

Relief erupts from him, “Really! Oh good because, I mean, adults are just adults, and teachers are there to teach and if I have a question I’m going to ask it. I mean, I can’t be easily intimidated, look at who I have for a mother!”

This is when C cracks up. “Right? Ya, come home and tell you I didn’t finish my schoolwork or that I got sent to the office, or have a teacher give me a funny look for asking a dumb question… teachers aren’t who I worry about.”

Then we all laugh. It’s amazing to watch the boys navigate authority. To see what sticks and what doesn’t. To see what is real to them and what is inconsequential.