thief of time

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Parent/Teacher Nights

Monday night was Parent/Teacher Interview night for we poor parents.

I don’t know what it’s like in other countries, but it’s been basically the same in both my children’s high schools and so, from my extensive research in two schools, I’m presuming the same misery goes on all over Sydney once a year/student for all parents.

In high school, the kids have to make an appointment time with each teacher and, for some strange reason, the times usually seem to be in an almost solid block with five minute breaks in between, except for the one subject they couldn’t fit in, which ends up right at the end of the evening.

This means the parents start off the night full of confidence, if they’re Year 7 parents, and full of dread if they’ve already been through one of these nights before.

You see, even though we’ve all been allotted our five minutes of face-to-face and are told the teachers are keeping to this and that any parent who wants extra time should make a separate appointment with the teacher for a later date, you just know that none of this is going to happen.

We all arrive clutching our crumpled appointment schedules and start off hopefully with our first teacher, where, if we’re lucky enough to get there for the beginning of the Interview evening, we’re usually in and out of on time (for of course, we keep to our five minutes).

Then the queues start, if not with teacher number two, then certainly by number three. We line up behind these teacher hogs who ramble on about their precious child and just can’t seem to feel the gimlet gaze of increasingly irritated parents glaring at the back of their impervious thick skulls. I’m surprised they don’t fall back as though slugged when they turn away from the teachers and face our collective hatred.

For of course, this very inconsiderate person has very probably made at least one set of parents, or possibly two and onward, late for their next five minute segment with the next teacher.

Then, you catch the parents who wander over to the teacher you’ve been waiting for for the past fifteen or twenty minutes and you ask (politely, of course) what time they’re down for. If you’re lucky, they’re one or two behind you. If not, and they’ve only just escaped from their last hold up, you very kindly let them know that you’re after them and casually discuss how bad the hold ups have been this evening—just to let them know you hope they’re not one of these problem parents coming to inflict another bottleneck on the teacher you’ve almost grabbed.

We’re basically civilised here in Sydney, but don’t cross a thwarted, hungry parent too often or we’ll turn and rend you.

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