Feeling particularly blah, I was blog hopping, trying to delay the process of thinking up an earth shattering idea for a proposal. In a favourite food blog (not ours), I learn that there is a concept of “homeroom moms” in schools in the West. (This blogger writes a small unrelated preamble to her recipes, in case you are wondering about the connection…).
It seems the homeroom mom is a mom who volunteers to help the teacher with mundane office activities like photocopying stuff, correcting answer sheets etc. This particular blogger, had in the past, been a teacher, and was condescending towards homeroom moms. Her claims were that homeroom moms could be gossip mongers and that they could “fix papers” when correcting exam answers.
Here is a mom’s view of why “homeroom moms” is NOT a great concept.
I have, in the past, volunteered to help my daughter’s teachers. For example, when the kids were taken on a field trip I volunteered to help mind the kids. I realised that while it does indeed relieve the teacher somewhat, it puts pressure on the kids. Especially your own.
When I accompanied my daugher’s class on the field trip, my daughter was not quite herself, and very conscious of the authoritative figure of mom around. How much ever I ignored her, I knew she was looking at me all the time. I know that she is capable of more exuberance than she exhibited on that day. And when something went wrong, say a fight with her friend, or food dropped to the ground, she sought me for support and advice. Another underlying, understated observation is that I seem to have noticed all of this when supposedly minding “other kids” – obviously I was as obsessed about the kid as she was about me.
I have noticed the same behaviour during my daughter’s music class. She performs worse when I am sitting with her in class than when I am waiting outside. The fact that I was her first music teacher complicates matters. When she makes a mistake she immediately looks at me, rather than her teacher and it become sticky for all of us involved. And I end up feeling like the tiger mom who bullies and frightens the kid so.
I remember my mother associating herself with my school and being pals with my teachers, with a couple of teachers visiting our home on occasions. I never felt good about it because I always wondered what my teacher was telling my mom about me, and if my friends considered my mom’s camaraderie as “sucking up to teacher” – never mind that the teachers were actually her friends from college. The fact that she was something of a tiger mom (an attitude, which I so consciously suppress) herself, made it very demanding on me, and I was striving to excel in everything – the “first rank mentality”.
Of course, in retrospect, I realise that my mother’s intentions were honourable and what I am now is not little due to the pressures I faced, but I can’t help wondering if the “academic success” worth it after all? I wonder how it is when your mom herself is a teacher in your school, and perhaps teaches you a subject or two. Imgaine your exam papers being corrected by mom !
Thankfully, my kid is made of sterner stuff and knows herself much better than I did at that age. Even so, I have started believing that school and home are two parallel worlds, both wonderful, both educative, but parallel neverthless. So, I avoid volunteering in school, and stay out in the mosquito-laden corridor of her music class, so that the kid can actually enjoy the process of learning without worrying about amma’s opinion.
I often think that parenting is like groping around in the dark. We don’t know what to do, we do it anyway. It is both fascinating and terrifying to think that every single parenting activity contributes to what the kid becomes. What sustains us is the knowlede that people have been doing this job for two hundred thousand years, and we have not yet become extinct.
PS: The title is from Erma Bombeck