Thanks, Mrs.!

Caroline's teacher is awesome and I'm not just saying that because some of my friends who read this happen to work at Caroline's school. My sweet Caroline, my beautiful little girl, can be a very stubborn diva. A very exhausting, stubborn diva. I'm at my wits end after spending the weekend with Caroline, I can only imagine what it is like for her teacher to deal with her day after day, along with 19other five year olds. Oh, yeah and try to provide them with the academic foundation needed to succeed for the next decade of schooling, too!

Sending your baby off to a bunch of strangers each day can be difficult. It's not like Caroline gives us a blow-by-blow of her day to provide us with insight into her daily activities, the friendships she's forging, the accomplishments she's making and the growth she's experiencing. Instead, our dinner conversations go a lot like this:

Andy: Hey, Caroline, so tell us, how was your day?
Silence
Andy: What did you do today, Care? Did you have music class or P.E.?
Caroline: I have to whisper something in your ear.
Andy (leans in): Tell me what you learned today.
Caroline: ("whispering")Charlotte farted in her underpants!
Charlotte: WEEE!!!

We wonder how Caroline is doing in school. Is she on par with the other kids? Is she making friends? Does she miss us? Luckily for us, Caroline's teacher keeps us up to speed about Caroline via email, notes home in the V.I.P folder and parent/teacher conferences. I'm always amazed how Mrs. is able to reply to an email within 24 hours, add a smiley face to all of Caroline's work, write super cute weekly newsletters including activities to do at home and offer to come to Care's eye doctor's appointment with us.

Needless to day, Mrs. is incredibly respected in our house. Her name comes up quite a bit at home, often in a slightly threatening manner, to remind Caroline that Mommy and Daddy need to be treated more like her teachers and less like her maids. "Caroline, what would Mrs. say if she saw you stomping around, screaming that you want more cookies?" or "Caroline, does Mrs. let you drink chocolate milk all day at school? I didn't think so." We were happy to learn at Care's parent/teacher conference that she is a good girl who is generally very sweet and a good listener. I have enough problems to deal with of my own, so knowing Caroline is on her best behavior at school lessens my list of daily worries.

That's why I was a bit alarmed when, upon returning from work one evening last week, we had a message on our answering machine from Mrs. Her voice cheerily asked us to call her, at school- or even home that night- to talk about Caroline's successes and some of the things we could do at home to help.

Shit! I thought to myself. Shit! shit! Shit! We all know that there are going to be more "things we can do to help" than there will be successes. I know the rule of Delivering Bad News: make sure to soften the blow first with something positive.
I tried calling Mrs. back but got her answering machine. This left an entire night to worry about what happened at school that day. It didn't help that Caroline was a total train wreck that night. She'd fallen asleep on the couch after pick-up, slept through dinner and peed on herself. She cried for the next hour as we tubbed her, jammied her and tried to pry information from her about her behavior that day.

Me: I know what it's about! She dropped an F-bomb! It's bound to happen eventually.
Andy: It had to be bad. Couldn't be put in an email. She's probably failing out and they don't want her coming back next week.
Me: Ok- that is crazy and makes no sense. Maybe she got in a fight with someone? Pushed a kid?
Andy: It's only 10pm. Try calling Mrs. again before you go to bed.

I can't tell you how nervous I was this afternoon when Mrs. finally had the chance to call me back. I held my breath for the news that my kid was a hellion and her bad, bad behavior was obviously linked directly back to me.

It turns out that Caroline didn't call anybody a motherf-er. She didn't push anyone nor is she being asked to leave the school. She's doing pretty well, as a matter of fact. Mrs. wants us to help with some small self- help skills and to reinforce behaviors. Nooo problem-o.

She did comment about a few odd things, however. For example, she wondered if Caroline ever eats food off of the floor because last week, when she accidentally knocked her taco on the ground, Mrs. asked her to clean it up and so Caroline proceeded to pick it up, and deposit it into her mouth. She also noticed Care's recent jewelry fixation and her unnatural need to stuff said jewelry into her mouth and nose. I confessed that Caroline is obsessed with bling and sneakily tries to take rings and necklaces from my jewelry box, encouraging me or Andy to go into the bedroom, only to then distract us so she can grab the goods. And that marble she brought to class last week and stuffed in her mouth- I didn't even know that she had stealthily lifted that after a game we'd been playing at home! This makes sense, Mrs. tells me, particularly since, today during open playtime, she found Caroline in the cubby area, methodically sifting through her friends' backpacks in search of bling and loot.

Good lord. My child is a thief who eats food off of the floor.

She does know the ABC's and how to write her name and tonight in bed she told me she had a baby in her body who would be born in 30,31, 32, 33, 34...all the way up to 68 weeks from now!

During this season of giving thanks we'd like to extend our genuine thanks to our special Mrs. and all of the other women and men who play such an important role in mentoring and watching out for our little kleptomaniac.

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