My children had only nine days of school in September. On one of those days, my first-grader came home and recounted an incident: “Mommy, I took off my kippah clips at school today because they were hurting me and making my head feel like it was bleeding. When I went to the potty, my kippah fell off. It fell into the potty. And I peed on it before I could stop.”
Let me give you a moment to recover from that.
Of course we received an email from school. His teacher’s primary request was to for us to replace his novelty suede kippot (farewell R2-D2 and Ravens kippot!) and switch to those that are large enough to stay without clips.
Secondarily, we needed to have a talk about not being such a disruption in class. And though the kippah came home in a plastic bag, I promptly threw it in the trash.
I could have been offended. My son made an arguably innocent mistake. He was uncomfortable. Hadn’t the principal just told us at back-to-school night that each child was the most important? That each child deserved individual attention and happiness? Wasn’t it the teacher’s job to teach him how to behave in a school day?
It’s not. It is mine.
As a parent, a singular incident (most accidental) is comical at best and embarrassing at worst. For a teacher, it is no less than a complete detour for the day.
Here she is, fishing a kippah out of the toilet, drying off the mess, finding another kippah, all while 15 other children wait with their own mishugas. No teacher has time for that.
An article has been circling the Internet about a mother who stopped telling her daughter to “hurry up” because children learn more in self-guided exploration of their world. In parenting, this is, for the most part, simple. Your perspective of seeing a nature center is less important than a child’s interest in studying the bugs on the entrance pathway. However, in school, particularly grade school, a teacher is managing 16 to 20 little personalities and charged with specific learning outcomes that must be met.
At some point, children need to conform to the common needs of learning reading, math and academic content. My role as a parent is to coach my child and remind him that while he can have my undivided attention, work on his own pace and decide which apparel to keep and which to remove at home, in school he must adapt, accommodate and be part of a team of learners.
There is more to happiness than doing what you want all the time, and that’s an important lesson for children. Every moment can’t be self-guided. If we want our children to be independent, capable, and socially well-adjusted, we must transition them. Moreover, it makes them accountable for their actions.
My son will be contributing a little bit of money to replace his kippah. I’ll remind my son each day of his responsibilities.
I’ll remind his teacher that I’ve got her back.