Expat Life – The Teacher Conference


True confession, each time I sit through a teacher conference meeting I want to weep. Certainly I am not the only mother out there who feels this way.  Please tell me I am not.


About half way through the experience, I form the regular lump in my throat and I do what I can to push back tears.  Prior experience has taught me that should a single tear roll down my face, an entire dam will burst and I will find myself in a wet mess. I remind myself of that time and I don’t forget.


No matter how much I prepare in advance, translate what I want to say so that my thoughts, my ideas and my convictions come across with some sense of intelligence, I still fumble, and struggle.  Each time the teacher leans in and states something unfavorable about my child, or uses language that makes me cringe, I cannot help but wonder how the experience would be different in my home country, in my native language.  The feeling of isolation washes over me.  The lone woman standing solo on a very tall mountain waiting desperately for the rescue that she knows will never come.  And thus, instead of releasing the tears, I say to myself, “this is all a lesson.”  “Learn the lesson, gather the information you need to make this experience positive.”  I grab my bag, swallow that hard lump in my throat and thank those teachers for making me better, my child better and our family stronger. My son looks at me and we make that eye connection that says, “wait until we get home.” Home to discuss the terminology that makes my skin crawl, the way we teach in our home, his need for positive reinforcement and my 1 millionth attempt at reminding him that kindness above everything else is paramount.

As I exit the elementary school door, I know this is not the last time I will feel this way, but next time my hope is that I will remember the lesson and value the experience.

And on my restless retreat home I remember the words once spoken by a very wise woman, Eleanor Roosevelt,

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” 

I let that wash over me and find genuine comfort in her words.  “Thank you,” I mutter as I look up to the never ending sky for reassurance.