February 15, 2013

The Principal’s Office

I am one of those annoying people (keep reading, there’s more)…  I know, it could really be anything next.  But I am the “honesty” person.  You know, I am always wishing that people would just say what they think.  It comes from the philosopher in me.  I am always thinking, “Why doesn’t so and so just say she doesn’t like the fruit tart I fed her.  It’s truly awful.”  And I actually consider making her eat the whole tart for not being honest because…  can you really be friends with someone who is afraid of hurting your feelings so badly, they can’t tell you they don’t like a tart you bought??  It’s not like she’s assessing my hairstyle or nose size!


I wish people would say why they’re mad.  I wish people would tell you when they think you’re being irritating so you can just shut up for a minute and give them a chance to breathe.  I wish people would warn you that they are just freaking grumpy so anything they say that day will be mean– cause they’re bitchy.  BUT to please forgive them and move on.  It’s truly just a personality flaw.  You know what I mean, right? 


But very few people are honest.  And I am aware that it is not a character trait to brag about when you’re honest.  It’s actually a flaw, a great big flaw.  Most people understand you just smooth the truth a little because it’s nice.  You have more friends, and you allow people to see themselves as they want to see themselves.  So that’s why at parties, people ask me if you can see the pimple on their neck.  They ask me if they sounded mean when they said something super inappropriate to the host of a party.  And I always think through it in my head when someone asks me a question beginning with, “CC, I know you’ll tell me the truth…”  I start weighing my relationship and trying to find a way to say the “right” thing, not the “honest” thing.  But by the end of the question, I have this internal urge that tells me to be honest.  Yes, you can see the pimple.  I would want to know!  Yes, that was rude!  You should apologize!  If I was at a party and asked someone sincerely, I would want to know!  So I tell the truth.  And I hope somewhere deep inside that people know it comes from a kind place.  I just can’t lie… very well.


So when I went into the principal’s office the other day to chat with the principal, I didn’t have this whole honesty thing on my mind.  I usually sit with her every year to talk over the best options for my oldest son’s classroom.  Turns out it has been the best idea as she knows which personalities are best fit for a beautiful child who often doesn’t listen to what is going on.  It truly takes the right mix of strictness and understanding.  And the principal usually gives me a couple options and tells me to take a look at the teaching style in person.  I am always worried that a teacher won’t understand his intelligence, heart and inattention.  So, while I was there… I thought I’d ask her about the first grade teachers for my youngest too.  He will probably do well in most classes, but thought I would tell her about his high level of energy (like she’s never met him in the principal’s office).  She went through the teachers and explained their differences and such.  She got to the last teacher and said, “Well, she might not have enough energy.”


I smiled wryly  and comically as I understood.  My 6 year old DOES have a lot of energy.  It is probably important to make sure he has a vivacious teacher who periodically whips the children.  Maybe that’s not what she meant.  But that’s what I envisioned.  “Yes,”  I said aloud.  “He does have a lot of energy.” 


And she looked at me kindly and directly and said, “No, I meant I don’t think she has enough energy for you.  You have a lot of energy.”  And without hesitation I started laughing.  I honestly don’t know if I did it out loud or in my head.  I was so surprised she said that to my face!  I kinda wanted to hug her and dance about the room for a minute.  Why?  Cause I told you I always wish people were more honest.  But she truly meant it kindly.  I could tell by her face she didn’t mean to be anything but real.  And she was right!  I respect that woman.  I love everything she stands for as a professional and an administrator.  There is never a crack in her persona that makes you think she isn’t everything she purports to be-fair, kind, honest, professional and very adept.  But I laughed.  I already knew I wasn’t the dream mom to have on your roster as a teacher.  I call a lot.  I double-check things I don’t think are clear.  I am probably more high maintenance than some, but it’s something I just can’t change.  My internal drive to make sure my kids have what they need is too strong.  So it’s not possible to change, but it’s something to be aware of. 


I thought about it a minute…  like I do…  for more than a minute.  I thought…  maybe this parenting thing is much more selfish than it appears sometimes.  Here I was asking about the best fit for my child.  But at the end of the day, it became important to have a good fit for me too.  In fact, it became paramount.  You know, it’s a little thing, but you know how I love those…  little things.  As a parent, you and your kids sometimes come as a package.  And at some extreme, maybe some teachers would be happy to teach my kids and would rather I was parenting a child in another class. 


But at the end of the day, it’s my responsibility to be in charge for now.  And believe me, I will be thrilled one day when I’m not in charge of everything.  But for now, just for now…  it’s my most important role in the world.  And when someone is so honest with me, it affords me the opportunity to see myself from a different perspective for a moment, to see myself, my children and my role as a mother.  It’s delightful and enlightening and wonderful.  I saw myself, and I was proud that I was the energetic mother.  I was proud of something for a moment, and I decided to make sure I was also kind and loving and empathetic…  or some assortment of beautiful things. 


So this Friday, be honest with someone, but only with the best motivation and kindness.  Don’t be honest just to see what happens or to hurt.  But be honest because there’s nothing wrong with honesty.  Sometimes it’s a great pill to be taken! 


So to honesty….  You really shouldn’t be drinking that martini before noon.  Put it down…  till noon.