Mom, Let Go of the Elementary School Woes

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Mom, let go of the elementary school woes“My child got the worst teacher for 4th grade. This is terrible.”
“My child’s best friend is now in a different class. She is going to have the worst year.”
“My child’s teacher is just not a good fit for my first grader. I need to change that.”

Yes, I have said and believed all those statements, and I can say something to you mommas that I try to never say around my family: I was wrong.

The Real Story

That teacher was not terrible. My child had a wonderful year. My child learned to adjust. Here’s the thing, my momma friends, that I know from looking at elementary school through the rearview mirror: while all of these situations seem big and important right now, they are not big and important for the future.

That fourth grade teacher, she turned out to be the hardest teacher, which other parents and students represented to us as “the worst.” She turned out to be, in fact, one of the best teachers for my daughter. She pushed my daughter to get more organized and she inspired a love for learning that carried forward.

That best friend remained my daughter’s best friend throughout elementary school even though they were not together. Their friendship lessened naturally during middle school when they changed classes and both girls began playing different competitive sports. The assignment to a different class was an opportunity to prep my child for middle school and beyond.

That bad-fit teacher was, in all honesty, a lazy teacher. The principal knew it because parents began demanding to be switched into another class. Instead of demanding a switch, I let the principal know that my smart little daughter would be okay this early in her learning with a not-great teacher, and I asked that she make sure my daughter had a better fit for second grade. She did.

Learn From It and Let It Go

Elementary school is preparation for learning. Your child is not only learning fundamentals of knowledge, but they are also learning fundamentals of interacting with the world. Use these little disappointments as opportunities to learn to manage what life throws at us humans. Your child will not always get to choose her boss, her teammates, or her environment, but she can choose how to handle it. You will not and should not be there to manage all her challenges in life. So when faced with elementary-school disappointments, use those as lessons you can teach your children.

To give you a little more confidence to shake off these elementary school challenges, my daughter, the one with the lazy first grade teacher and the “terrible” fourth grade teacher, is now making the Dean’s List at a private college and has friends across campus. Surviving those early challenges, I hope, set her up for success with the much greater challenges presented in high school and college.

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Born in Wisconsin, Chris moved South with her family, first to Richmond, Virginia, and then to Birmingham when she was 12. She loves being a girl raised in the South, and her only remaining Midwestern traits are a love for the Packers and a fondness for bratwurst. In 2010, Chris reconnected with Christopher, a former Birmingham-Southern College classmate, after a random meeting in the cereal aisle at Publix. They married in 2011, not realizing that they were bringing together a perfect storm of teenage angst with their three children. Today, Chris is the center support that keeps the seesaw of her family balanced, leading a blended family of three young adults and enjoying an empty nest. Before the pandemic, most days were busy managing client relationships for a corporate event production company, but after six months of unemployment, she has become the parish administrator aka “the church lady” for her church. When she's not working, she loves reading a rich historical novel, volunteering with her sorority, and planning their next wine-tasting excursions.