Each trimester when grades are due, teachers across the country (or at least across the westside of Los Angeles) wither under the writing of ten to twelve sentence paragraphs that must capture the academic achievement, behavior, effort, growth, and ‘areas for future improvement’ of their students. Some of us write only fifty, some a grueling hundred, and others, depending on their subject and grade levels, ponder suicide in the wake of two to three hundred.
But the worst thing about writing comments is not the mind-numbing mundanity of it or how much of our time it consumes that might be spent watching Game of Thrones or taking a much needed walk around the block. No. The worst part about writing comments is that we are inhibited from being honest and must wade in the tepid pool of euphemisms and indetermination.
Oh, imagine the world if we could say how we really feel and share the truth! Imagine if we didn’t feel so censored! If what we wrote wasn’t dissected and scrutinized and labeled as inappropriate or disrespectful! If we couldn’t so easily offend and people didn’t take everything so damn seriously! Alright, I get it. We’re not talking articles from The Onion here, we’re talking about education. We’re dealing with kids and their ever-sensitive over the top helicopter parents’ feelings. Job requirement. Very well.
But oh. If in some alternate universe, parents were more concerned with the First Amendment and freedom of expression than fearing the truth about their children, our ten to twelve sentence paragraphs may look something like this:
Joe John sneezes too much. Like at least fifteen times in a single class. It’s highly distracting, and I think it makes him dizzy. Just the other day, during the highly anticipated climax of our novel, he lets loose a series of three deafening sneezes. You ought to think about maybe some Claritin? Checking for unknown allergies? He definitely cannot think abstractly yet. I told him once to spread his wings and fly and he looked at me real funny and said, “but I’m not a bird.” I don’t know what to tell you. It’s a developmental thing. Hopefully he’ll get there. On a lighter note, his bodily functions are not entirely unwelcome. Why, just the other day he farted during an intense discussion, and that really lightened the mood. We are all feeling the stress of this time of year, and Joe John helped us gain some perspective.
Your daughter is gorgeous. Clearly you two have bred a goddess into the world. And I think we can all agree her best attribute is her hair. But, see, she plays with it all through class. Braids, buns, twirls. It distracts her from learning. Then again, I’d play with my hair all the live long day, too, if it was that shiny and fluffy and wild. She also dresses a little bit slutty, and it distracts all the boys in class. How can they focus when she’s sitting there looking like a future model? Maybe invest in some long-sleeved shirts and baggy jeans? Just some ideas. I also recommend teaching her how to read, because at this level, they are already supposed to know, and I can’t differentiate that widely.
Your child is a bad person. He will likely roofie girls in college and make millions poisoning an innocent town’s water supply.
Peter is very funny and knows a lot of great movie quotes. He comes in at recess and we rap about old SNL episodes and Monty Python. Great job raising him. He will definitely do drugs in high school, but only pot and alcohol. I think he just wants to have a good time, and there ain’t nothing wrong with that. And the ladies love him. He won’t have any trouble there! He’s a pretty decent writer, too, although he clearly doesn’t understand structure, or else he would bother to put it in at least one of his essays. But it’s no big deal; unless he wants to be an English major in college, essays are pretty pointless. And he probably won’t go to college.
Your daughter needs to chill the fuck out. She is a major stress case, and it is making the rest of us very anxious. I understand that she is brilliant and will attend Harvard and cure cancer one day, but in the meantime, we are trying to get through a sixth grade English class, and she is really sucking the fun out of the room with her constant questions and reminding me to assign homework.
I freaking love and adore your child. She is ridiculously precious, funny, and interesting. Seriously, I would like to adopt her. She’s sort of my best friend. Don’t be jealous! Obviously, I can’t compete with you. But we really connect. It does make it a little hard to be her teacher, because how do you tell a best friend to be quiet and get back to work without giggling just a little bit? But I’m trying. And she’s doing fine. B+ kind of kid, and that’s a good kid to be. Are you aware, by the way, that she knows all the lines to Princess Bride and Stand By Me? I’m telling you, you’re raising a real winner. We should do dinner sometime. Abbot Kinney? I am also free for babysitting if you two are looking to rekindle the old flame.
Sometimes Tamara is really sweet and cool, and then all of a sudden she is aloof and distant. Is she a Gemini, Aquarius, or Libra? Air signs are notorious for having this hot and cold demeanor. Regardless, even if the stars are not aligned in her favor, she can still make efforts to not be so moody, because it really hurts my feelings. I am a sensitive Cancer, and we can not handle such mutability.
I am coming quite close to acquiring methamphetamine from the drug dealer who lives next door and administering it to your child if you don’t do something about his very robust, highly distracting ADD. You are aware that his eyes are practically rolling in the back of his head and that his hair stands on end when he speaks, are you not? That his arms break off from his body when he raises his hand in discussion, yes? This is NOT normal. We’re not talking a little disorganization here and there or forgetting to bring his books and pencil pouch to class. We’re talking major serious brain-must-be-on-fire ADD. Run for the hills ADD. The stuff of tragic memoirs a la Augusten Burroughs ADD. Please for the love of god and for this entire school’s peace of mind, get him tested, get him help, and stop trying to pretend that he is simply “gifted and quirky.” He is CRAY.
Alright, folks, it’s time to do three things for little Jakey. Number one, he needs his big boy haircut. It will change everything. Number two, please get him some age appropriate clothes. He is going to be thirteen soon, and wearing only shirts with Spiderman on them and shoes that fasten with Vel-cro is just not ok. Do you want him to be a 40 year old virgin? And number three, stop emailing me for him. Just stop. Completely. Surrender and let go. See what happens. Go explore nature. Maybe take up knitting, like you always wanted to. But stop sending me emails about his performance in my class. He’s doing fine – you are the problem.