Childrearing

SAHM No More: My Son’s Teacher Called Me Out On Not ‘Communicating’ Better About Homework

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SAHM No More explores the the ups-and-downs of navigating a new world of parenting, transitioning from married stay-at-home motherhood to a full-time working, divorced motherhood. And there are a lot of adjustments being made—a lot of adjustments and not a lot of sleep.

The email I received went a little something like this:

Dear Ms. Iversen,

Perhaps it is time for you to start communicating better with you son. He has not handed in his homework assignments for the last two weeks and is putting himself in jeopardy of failing. As his teacher, I can only do so much. It is really up to you to make sure that he is doing his work. Might I suggest looking in his backpack at night and sitting down and talking with him about his day? That might help.

Sincerely,
Mr. Science-Teacher-Who-Shall-Remain-Nameless

The effect that this email had on me came in stages: denial that this science teacher even knew what he was talking about—maybe he had confused my son with someone else; instinctive and nearly blinding fury that my parenting commitment had been questioned; wounded self-doubt about my skills as a mother; steely resolve to figure out what was going on with my son’s academic progress; and, finally, a mixture of all those emotions as I sat there, looking at my computer screen, wondering, what am I doing wrong?

My older son started middle school this past September. He went from a neighborhood school with 58 kids in his grade to a large school with over 300 kids in his grade, none of whom he knew well, most of whom he didn’t know at all. And although he had always been an excellent student and had been placed in an advanced-track program, I worried that my son would get overwhelmed by all the changes that were going on, both academically, and at home. Because of my new working hours, my son comes home from school and has to start—and hopefully finish—his homework before I return from my job. I thought I was staying on top of it though, checking his bag each night—okay, most nights—and consistently going over his completed homework. After his first month of school, I hadn’t seen much in the way of science assignments.

But it kept slipping my mind to look into the situation. After all, my son was diligently working every day and he had never had a problem keeping track of things like this before. What could possibly be going wrong? As it turned out, lots of things. I was the one who contacted the science teacher finally, asking why I hadn’t seen any assignments. And the email that I got back—paraphrased above—was as startling as if I looked in the mirror and saw that someone had drawn a big red F on my forehead.

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