Things that Break a Science Mommy’s Heart…

Education for Little Isis is different for him that it was when I was a kid. His teacher has access to email, which means that I hear a lot about his day and his successes and failures. I am currently out of town at some academic society type meetings and this came from his teacher tonight…

Not sure how long you’ve been gone but [Little Isis] has seemed somewhat out of sorts. Not news I would normally share unless it was a real problem but as his mom, I thought you should know that I think he really misses you…even if he doesn’t know it. no big issues…I can just tell things aren’t totally “normal” in [Little Isis]’s perceived view of ‘home’.

Insert broken mommy heart here.

32 responses to “Things that Break a Science Mommy’s Heart…

  1. You obviously haven’t been traveling enough. Hit the road Nd get the little dude more independent!

  2. BethAnn (@bam294)

    I’ve been there and done that. I try to go with the super excited thing when the kiddos complain about me leaving town (they do). I’d be really sad if they thought I was bummed about going to a meeting for a week and didn’t like my job. I want them to know I love them, but they aren’t my whole life. I have a great job and sometimes it means I GET to go out of town and talk to super smart people and get their input. It still sucks balls at times but its never as bad as I think it will be on my end. Also, being dual science household, I have to say I like it when hubby goes to his meetings. Gives me a chance to organize and run things autonomously. Which usually will involve at least one night where we just have Pinkberry for dinner :-) Shhh….

  3. Ouch. However, I doubt LI is the only kid whose parents travel for work. Do you think guilt-trip emails are sent out on a regular basis? Can you just mark the teacher as spam? Everyone our age got by fine with one parent-teacher conference a year.

  4. I can’t imagine it is any of the teacher’s business – if she thinks there is a problem, she should discuss it with whomever is looking after him at the moment (Mr Isis??? ). Or she can ask Little Isis if there is anything he wants to talk to her about, and then it is between them. Perhaps he just has a cold. Perhaps the teacher thinks that you like to know he misses you – if so, again, it is none of her business – I’m sure you communicate with Little Isis often while you are away, and you know how he feels.

    I certainly would resent any third party trying to tell me how my family reacts to what is our normal family situations.

    At one point, for several years, we only saw my husband at weekends. Did we all miss him? Oh yeah. Did we cope? Oh yeah. Would we have appreciated someone such as a teacher criticising us for our family decisions? OH NO.

  5. Ask her how many guilt-emails she sends to fathers who fravel.

  6. Isis the Scientist

    I suppose that’s all valid, although I hesitate to be to hard on her. This statement came as a part of an email where we were discussing other things and it is the reality that when we make particular choices, we do make other sacrifices. Not that these sacrifices have long term negative consequences, per se, but that there are sacrifices.

  7. I’m with d. and Alison, what possible benefit could that email have had? All it was going to do was make you feel bad. That teacher is either thoughtless or worse…. Also, is it really so bad for Little Isis to learn how to cope with little bumps in his life? I’m currently touchy on the subject, but this is the sort of crap that drives me nuts.

  8. Isis the Scientist

    That’s an interesting assessment…that all it would do is make me feel bad. I don’t disagree with it being positive for him to cope with challenges, but I also find it informative to get feedback on when my absence might be starting to effect him. I can definitely appreciate that these are issues with real feministy consequences – that mothers are faced with this bullshittery more than fathers – but I also think I’ll use this information to guide how I interact with Little I when I get home.

  9. Independent of the content of the e-mail, I find it deeply disturbing that it is apparently common for teachers and parents to communicate on a daily, or even weekly, basis concerning what their kids are doing in school. Unless there is a severe immediate problem, report cards and once or twice a year parent-teacher conferences are more than sufficient. One of the major purposes of school is to introduce children to the important realization that there are large, complex, and powerful institutions in society that are wholly independent of and essentially indifferent to the family.

  10. 1) Most importantly: don’t scare the teacher off by reprimanding her on this account. In my experience to get regular feedback from a teacher is more important than to get 100% adequate feedback. Most of teachers we had did not have time / will to write us regularly about how our kids are doing. It is better to get 50% of useful information and 50% of unnecessary emotional spam from a teacher rather then to get nothing at all.

    2) But at the same time, of course, don’t get upset about this whole story. If your kid misses you, that means that he loves you! Kids are supposed to miss their parents – that’s a part of their job description! When I come home at 6 (rather than at 8 as usual) and my kids say something like “wow, why you are so early today?” I feel somewhat hurt, to be honest. They are so used to my coming home late that they don’t miss me anymore (at least during this time interval).

  11. Isis the Scientist

    HAHAHA!!! Yeah, those five year olds need to sack the fucke up!!!

  12. This is exactly the kind of sh|tte that reinforces all the gender stereoptyping in which family and kids are Mom’s Job. And if things are gonna change, for women, it’s going to be because we all — fathers, mothers, caretakers, bosses alike — embrace a value that responsibilities are shared, not because we women yell really loudly about how we’re not treated equally.

    I think my need to say “I hope you’re just as proactive about children whose fathers travel, right?” would trump my need to delete and move on.

  13. I’m scared of how demanding you people are. Don’t you think that one of the reasons K12 education is screwed up so much is that parents feel the teacher “owes” them? And thus feel entitled to abuse them into submission for any slip of the tongue, or personal opinion?

    Think about it: the teacher came to you, and tried to sincerely communicate, talk to you about whatever she happened to deem important. Now all that she gets in return is a swarm of curses, judgmental statements and accusations. Essentially you are selecting for teachers who are indifferent, but smart enough to be silent, and lacquer their once-a-year politically correct statements, and you’re selecting against those ones who care, but dare to speak to you, and generally behave like humans (like have opinions, and thus make mistakes every now and then).

  14. Well, Arseny, as this is an anonymous blog and none of this is said directly to the teacher, I don’t know that there is much reason to be scared. That said, I do think that my comment was a bit of an over-reaction, but stand by my original point that the email’s primary impact was to hurt Dr. Isis. Little Isis is lucky to have a teacher who clearly cares about him and is openly communicating with his parents. For me, however, when I leave my children, I do not do so lightly and I know that they miss me. While I chose to do so, my trips away are always an exercise in guilt control. A comment like that would be a direct hit.

  15. Ao, that’s certainly true. Still, I think people have the right to hurt each other every now and then, especially if they don’t do that on purpose. I’d rather prefer people hurting me sometimes, than not talking to me at all. From both “existential”, AND practical point of view. Here in the comments, at least to some extent, the teacher is (in absentia) denied her humanhood, and reduced to a “service provider”, that should not dare speaking of her thoughts and observations. She’s not given a benefit of doubt. I find this attitude towards teachers both very common, and very troubling.

    (Dr. Isis, sorry for both ranting and off-topic)

  16. Isis the Scientist

    I think that, in large part, the heartbrokenness I posted about is largely about me. I don’t like to be away from my children because I love them and I love to spend time with them. I know, and treasure, that they also want to be with me. It actually means a lot to me that my family loves each other and wants to be together.

  17. Kindergarten is not a Care Bears Motherfucken Tea Party!

    Well, OK, it kind of is, but still.

  18. Giving feedback is useful because people typically don’t fully appreciate the impact their actions have on others. I know I stomp around blithely through life feeling happily inignificant and I need to be brought up short every now and again to hear that by behavior and actions are bothering/ intruding on/ disrespecting/ letting down other people. Most people have a blind spot here and there; some people’s blind spots are bigger than others.

    Some people might assume that their kid wouldn’t notice or care that they were gone. The kid is being cared for and they themselves are not experiencing anguish, therefore all is good. A gentle indicator that yes, the youngster does indeed notice and care is not in itself a bad thing.

    My question is, do dads get this indicator too?

    (I’m basing my thoughts on families with two parents of two sexes because that’s where one might see sex differences.)

    Perhaps not 1 — If the person who is prime for the child and the teacher’s primary contact is the mother, then the father wouldn’t be having the chat with the teacher in the first place and wouldn’t provide the occasion for this little observation to be thrown in.

    Perhaps not 2 — If the person who is prime for the child is the mother, the child may feel more uncertain about their needs being met predictably if she is not there than if the father is not there. There might in fact be more likely to be something to say.

    Perhaps not 3 — If the teacher is of the opinion that mothers should always be available to care for children and that father-care isn’t quite good enough, the teacher might feel smug about having ammunition against the negligent mother.

    Perhaps MORE 1 – If the teacher is of the opinion that fathers are personally important to their children, the teacher might try to counterbalance the glorification of motherhood by seizing on little opportunities to highlight the child’s attachment to the father.

    On balance I’d think that it’s more likely that mothers receive the message that their absence has hurt their child — which is of course self-reinforcing. Most mothers would not react to receiving this message by making the father the primary contact with the teacher, for instance.

  19. Wow, a lot of hate for a (most likely) well-meaning teacher! I think using this info constructively would benefit all–particularly, the heartbroken Dr. Isis. I fail to see how this comment is the teacher’s indictment of traveling working moms.

    Even though traveling is part of our sciencey lives, and thank goodness it is, doesn’t mean that we carelessly trip around without thinking about how it makes our families feel-particularly the little ones. I’m going to start traveling again in the Spring. It’s going to be hard, even if it will be great…hopefully for everyone (probs not good for my b00bs though-traveling while breastfeeding SUCKS)!

  20. As a teacher, I find it very difficult to muster up the motivation to email people even when I absolutely have to. The fact that this teacher puts this kind of time and effort into caring about her students says a LOT.

  21. Isis the Scientist

    I would agree with you, Bear.

  22. I didn’t mean any ‘hate’ for the teacher, and I appreciate that teachers and parents communicate more now than they did ‘in my ancient days’ and that parent/teacher partnership is one of the most important factors in a child’s (good) progress through our education system.

    I was just commenting on the personal, opinionated nature of the comment – but if Isis is happy with the relationship she has with the teacher, and was happy that it was part of a larger conversation, then i certainly don’t want to judge the teacher (or any teacher) in a negative way.

    I guess this is one thing about this wonderful communication medium we are using…. things can be taken out of context for a range of reasons.

    P.S. I think all teachers are angels, and those who teach kids of 6 yrs and under are super-amazing angels.


  23. That shit is out of line.

  24. Oh ffs, that is THE most ridiculous shit I have read on the interwebz this year. Yes, even in the election cycle. You at least expect politicians to be overly wrought shits.

  25. Isis the Scientist

    You folks are out of control.

  26. Ok, I am reading your blog again.

    I commend you for staying active in meetings and such, even though those babies miss you. I have hindered my career to a certain extent by not remaining so active while my kids were little–now I am having to make up for it.

    and yes, some of these people are out of control.

  27. oh, sorry, didn’t realize this was an insiders’ pity party. back to unicornz and rainbowz rightaway then.

  28. Of course fathers never get such a letter. Only mothers are given the guilt trip. As a mother, there is absolutely nothing you can do right for anyone in this world What does the teacher think you’re going to do, quit your job? Jesus.

  29. Like several others, I’d say that maintaining what is obviously a good relationship with the teacher should be the primary goal here.

    But if you or Mr. Isis ever have the chance to say something to the teacher that gently, perhaps even indirectly, reminds her that you’re co-parents, and you want your son to see both of you as both professionals and parents, that probably wouldn’t come amiss. It could be helpful to other parents of various sorts: not only heterosexually-partnered mothers with demanding professional lives, but also single parents of either gender, or parents with same-sex partners. There’s pretty good evidence that teachers’ expectations have some effect on students’ success, and if this teacher is projecting even a little what she feels a child in a particular situation *should* feel, that could make life at least incrementally harder for a child from a non-normative family.

  30. Isis the Scientist

    I’ll say this one more time because its obviously not clear, but then I’m done with this thread because I’m frankly bored with the crankiness. This comment came in a conversation that this teacher and I were already having about something else. She didn’t email me and me alone out ofI the blue. When she has emailed us about issues previously, it’s gone to both parents. Now chill the fuck out.

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