In the same way that speed dating is structured to allow people to get to know complete strangers efficiently, so too are the new Parent Teacher Interviews. Well perhaps none of this is particularly “new”, maybe it’s been like this for a decade but I’ve only been the parent of a highschooler for a couple of years now, so this feels to me like an unfamiliar and quite frankly, odd phenomenon.
I guess in one way it’s the most logistically effective way to be updated about your child’s progress. It doesn’t mean however that it’s not awkward and just like speed dating, performed publicly, at break neck speed and often, a little fruitlessly.
Let me set the scene for the uninitiated. Generally these parent-teacher interviews are held in large hall type surroundings. You have 5 minutes with each of your child’s teachers who will be sitting alone, at a small desk, awaiting your arrival. It’s pretty much a secondary education production line. However where speed dating and parent teacher interviews do tend to differ, is that there is absolutely no alcohol available at the latter.
The point of this exercise is to glean as much information from that person as humanly possible without looking crazy.
Which is exactly like Speed Dating.
Let me count the ways…
1. It’s awkward.
Urgh, the awkward silence. Or in my case, the awkward over-share. Firstly though, you stand around uncomfortably, just waiting to be granted your five allotted minutes together. When you eventually do get to plant yourself down opposite this person, you will fall into two camps. You’re either the one that inexplicably overcompensates for the pause in conversation and does not STFU (that’d be me) or the one that sits there blinking hard and hoping like hell that the other person will just take over.
2. There’s one you wish you could spend more time with.
You always get that one person who you crave to spend more time with. The one that when the buzzer goes off to indicate that time’s up, you wish you could stall time and incase yourself inside of a bubble, just the two of you. For me this year it was her French teacher. Sure, he wore glasses and a jacket with leather elbow patches and yes, had an incredibly sexy French accent but there was also another reason for my want to continue our conversation further; he told me that my daughter was one of the most gifted French students he’d ever come across. So yeah, I wanted to hear more about that. Possibly with a French accent.
3. You are forced to interact with actual human beings.
These days, there are a lot of us who prefer to do the majority of our living, entirely on line. As a result, usually, a quick email or text gets most of our needs met. Yet both of these situations we talk about today, find us in unavoidable face-to-face meetings with other human beings.
There you both sit. Warts and all. And this unfortunately had a literal meaning for me (think the Headmaster scene in Uncle Buck). Plus, there is no disguising your bruised looks. That look you get when you are told something unpleasant and your face gives you away. “So yeah, your daughter will not be, I can say without a shadow of doubt, the next Renoir or Picasso”. Oh. Cue crushed face.