It’s Parents’ Evening soon. I hate it. I hated it as a child (and would dread my returning parents wearing their “we need to have a talk” faces), and now I hate it as an adult. I’m sure that if I were a teacher, I’d hate it too.
I’m not saying that it should be abolished. Parents’ Evening is one of the most important elements in the school system. It is imperative that a teacher can have a sit-down conversation with their students’ parents at least once a year. It is vital that parents converse with their child’s teacher on an annual basis at the very least. Of course, some parents like to do this on a daily basis, but that’s modern interfering parents for you.
This is an encounter where feelings can run high, criticisms can be made, and offence can be taken. Therefore the language used by teachers is sometimes not quite as direct and honest as it could be. In order to avoid a severe beating from psychotically insecure parents who project themselves onto their children and whose self-esteem is wrapped up in their child’s success, teachers now use very diplomatic and nuanced language at Parents’ Evening.
Because this is often a very awkward scenario for all concerned, the true meaning of a teacher’s comments can be obfuscated in order to avoid offence. We now enter a very vague world, where the subtle uses of the English language, and classic British understatement can be observed. Here is a translation of some of the common phrases a teacher might use:
“Your child is doing well”
Your child is very average.
“Your child is very bright”
Clap hands in front of face, call child’s name, snap fingers either side of the head… nope, off with the fairies again.
“Your child is a delight to teach”
I’ve forgotten who your child is. Are we talking about the kid who eats crayons, or the one who laughs too loud?
“Your child has a unique perspective on the world”
Your child lives on an alien planet that orbits a strange star, many light years from our own, judging by the gibberish that pours from their mouth.
“Your child has a very mature outlook on things”
What the fuck have you been letting your child watch on TV??
“Your child contributes to the atmosphere of the classroom”
I offer a sacrifice of thanks to the Influenza-God every time your child is absent due to sickness, thus protecting the classroom from your child’s near-constant screeching and prattling.
“Your child is quite a character!”
Your child is a royal pain in the bum, constantly demanding attention, mucking about, cheeky, disruptive, annoying, and fidgety in the worst possible sense. I’m not allowed to use gags or restraints to strap children down and make them shut up, but in your twat-brat’s case, I will make an exception.
“Your child is making good progress!”
Your child is making the same amount of progress as everyone else in the class.
“I’m really pleased with your child’s writing this term. It has come on leaps and bounds!”
If you can make head or tail of your kid’s illegible scrawl, I will give you a medal.
“Your child is ahead of the curve!”
Your child IS a fucking curve.
“Your child has a vivid imagination”
Your child’s stories involve blood, guts, animal torture, and sexual depravity, and I have called Social Services.
“It’s the art subjects where your child excels”
Your child draws pictures of your heavy drinking.
“I’m glad that you, as a family, work together to complete homework”
No eight-year-old child can make a working model of a volcano, and I recognise parental handiwork when I see it. You did it all yourself, you bloody cheat.
“It’s great that your child enjoys reading so much…”
If your kid mentions Harry fucking Potter one more time, I’m going to scream. Simple as.
“We’re all pleased that your child is interested in learning the violin”
It’s twenty minutes, every Tuesday morning, where your child is guaranteed to leave the classroom. I see no bad in this.
“Your child makes valuable contributions to lessons”
Your child repeats your bullshit UKIP opinions at any given opportunity, and the Polish kid on the same table is getting increasingly upset about it.
“Your child has a very strong friendship with _____. They’re quite a team!”
I prefer to keep them apart, to be honest. I don’t like the way they’re always whispering to each other and glaring at me in a meaningful way. I’ve seen Heavenly Creatures. I know how it ends.
“Your child is kind and thoughtful to the younger children in school”
We had to cut Olivia from Caterpillar Class down from the chain-link fence again this week.
“Your child has an independent spirit”
Your child is an argumentative little shitbag.
“Your child is very emotional”
Whenever a thunderstorm is forecast, I do not trust your child to hand out scissors.
“Your child’s interests lie more towards PE and games than academic interests… no, this is a good thing, and I encourage it”
Your kid is an inarticulate thug, but we need them for the school football team because your child is, single-handedly, a one-person terror machine who bulldozes their way through the other school teams in the local area, and usually wins the game for us. Go Bulldogs!!
“Your child is less physical, and more interested in academic pursuits”
Your child is so crap at PE that whenever we give them a ball to kick or throw or catch, the rest of the class (me included) just fall about laughing at their uncoordinated legs and flapping arms.
“Your child is very popular amongst their classmates”
Did you know your kid’s nickname is ‘The Bum-arse’?
“Occasionally your child’s focus will wander off-topic…”
If your kid mentions Harry fucking Potter ONE MORE TIME, I swear to God there will be carnage, and innocent people will get hurt.
“Your child is an aggressive bully, who is a nightmare to teach, who doesn’t listen to instruction, who is disruptive and badly-behaved. They are rude, violent, impossible to control thanks to your lack of enforcing discipline at home, they do not do any work, they are lazy and uncooperative, I have to exclude them from lessons on a regular basis, and they eat their lunch away from other students. They are banned from the playground at lunchtimes, they are not allowed on any more school trips, and the Head has been required to intervene on a number of occasions.”
It’s 8pm, I’ve had a long day, and you are the last parents I’m seeing this evening. Fuck diplomacy.
“I’m very grateful for all the support you give your child at home”
Please stop harassing me in the playground when you come to collect your kid. I know how to do my job.
“Your child is doing fine. There’s nothing to worry about.”
Your child is doing fine. There’s nothing to worry about.
If you’re a parent, and you are experiencing Parents’ Evening at the moment, then I wish you good luck. But if you hear bad news about your kid, don’t blame the teacher. They’re doing a difficult job as it is, without you getting pissy at them for telling the truth about your blessed offspring.
If you’re a teacher, and you are experiencing Parents’ Evening, then I wish you good luck, and plenty of restorative cups of tea to get you through the ordeal.