'He never does that at home'

At It’s Not All Flowers and Sausages, Mimi is frustrated with parents in denial about their children. It’s a regular Jekyll-Hyde situation.

Me: So, we need to talk about reading…
Parent: Don’t even start that with me again this year.
Me: You’ve heard this before from another teacher?
Parent: Yea, but AT HOME, he’s reading Harry Potter books by himself.
Me: Well, it’s great that you have books at home for him to enjoy, but here at school, it appears that he’s only ready for books with eight to ten words of text on a page…so I’m not sure Harry Potter is the best choice.
Parent: Well he reads it.
Me: All right, but then maybe you can see why I am confused that here at school, he really struggles with more complicated text…
Parent: That’s your problem, not mine.

The student who never speaks at school is a chatterbox at home. The kid who bites classmates at recess? The teacher must have provoked the little angel.

About Joanne


  1. Mimi’s blog is one unadulterated whine-fest. Do you really believe everything she says?

  2. Catherine Johnson says:

    Are there blogs written by private, parochial, or charter school teachers with lengthy posts complaining about parents?

  3. I also wonder how many veteran teachers would write a blog like that. There’s something about a teacher with an internal dialogue ridiculing a child in their class that just makes me cringe. It also makes me think they’re new to the profession. At least I hope so.

    Reading over the blog and its comments, I started to feel sorry for the parents with young children who would be facing these teachers. And I don’t say this to defend obnoxious in-denial parents. They will always exist, but sometimes they actually have a point.

    The Boomer teachers seem to be retiring en masse and taking their experience (and parent-handling skills) with them.

  4. The ones I like are the ones that you talk to and they tear up and say, “I know, he’s just like that at home, I don’t know what to do…..” It’s like, “Darn, I can’t vent on you….” I’ve been WAITING for this parent conference for weeks….

  5. I find it is more common for parents to be surprised that their kids are *better* for me than at home. I don’t recall having any parents in out-and-out denial, although I’ve had some world-class enablers.

  6. Margo/Mom says:

    My favorite part of the blog was this:

    “Um, what? It’s MY fault that YOUR child is biting OTHER CHILDREN at recess when I’m not even there?!?!?”

    Now, if we could get Mimi to look in the mirror, she might understand how a parent feels when a teacher unloads on them about some problem that happened at school that a parent (if they are a good parent) is supposed to have prevented–or now that it is all over, the parent is expected to solve.

    I think that the teachers I have gotten along best with are the ones who respond to the problem and let me know how they handled it, and what they think might be a cause–NOT the ones who call up aghast to say that they cannot handle my child (but that I am supposed to–by telepathy, I guess). My favorite was when the principal called to say that when they put him in in-school suspension he kept falling asleep and she wanted to know what to do. I suggested some effective ways to wake him up–cold cloth, a sprinkle of water. Then she told me that he was already awake and sitting in her office. OK–what did she want me to do then? Well, it seems she thought it was reasonable that I come and get him. At that point we are already so many steps removed from whatever problem the in-school suspension was supposed to solve that anything we did wasn’t likely to have an impact. But, it is well-known that calling parents at work to come get their children will be unappreciated by parents who have to be concerned about things such as, you know, earning a living, so it seems to make some school employees feel that they have regained some power when they are feeling powerless.

    I am encouraged that so many here did not fall into line with more parent bashing.

  7. ucladavid says:

    In my experience, if a kid is having a problem in my middle school class, he is having a problem in another class. It is rare when a kid is having a problem in my class and nowhere else. If a kid is talking in my class, they are talking in another class. If a kid is not doing the homework in my class, then the kid is not doing the homework in another class.
    Thus before I call home, I always ask other teachers how that kid is doing in their class or I go into the counseling office to find their last report card. Parents can’t argue that it is me if they are misbehaving in several classes.

  8. “Um, what? It’s MY fault that YOUR child is biting OTHER CHILDREN at recess when I’m not even there?!”

    If it’s the parent’s fault that the child misbehaves at school, does that mean that it’s the teacher’s fault if the child misbehaves at home?

  9. Hi Everyone,
    Interesting conversation…

    Susan, I never mock children. Never. In fact, my blog is dedicated to venting (hence the whining, Cal…better than in the workplace I always say) about the reasons that I DON”T always get to teach. Because I love my kids (no matter how difficult they can sometimes be).

    I know there are plenty of fantastic and supportive parents out there who are amazing to work with. But I’m not writing about those parents right now. I’m writing about the parents who refuse to have a partnership. And I’m confident enough in my teaching and my past relationships with parents to put these troubles out there as a general frustration. Just because they stink and make my job harder.

    Also, I think people need to become more critical readers of blogs. Remember, you are not getting the whole story…just a piece. Granted, a piece of the story that I chose to put out there, but still… I think it’s great that blogs spark conversation (because productive conversation is great), but when people judge an entire person’s ability to be successful on a few sentence offered up on the internet…how does that help anyone? Plenty of teachers face frustrations with parents. And plenty of parents face frustrations with teachers. I think we could all benefit from laughing about it a bit.

  10. Actually, it’s not fruitful to frame this issue as a tug of war between parent and teacher over who’s more responsible for a child’s misbehavior (if it’s misbehavior we’re talking about rather than academic struggles). It’s the child’s fault if the child bites or otherwise misbehaves. Even a child with an IEP needs to be expected not to bite, hit, disrupt, etc (with attention, of course, to the issue of whether the environment s/he’s in is overwhelming for her/him). It’s also not unreasonable for teachers to feel put-upon when a child they’ve known for, at most, several months, exhibits disruptive behavior and they are expected to figure out why and how to stop it.

    I think what’s being reflected (not very effectively) by the poster, is that she, the teacher, has the child for part of a day for one year, while the parent has known the child since birth and spends, actually, much more time with him/her. But, yes, it’s wrong for the teacher to simply want to vent to a parent. That’s not useful.

  11. Margo/Mom says:


    I don’t have a problem with a teacher venting, if they are clear that that is what they are doing, and do it with someone with whom they have an appropriate relationship. In most cases this isn’t a parent–but I have had a few teachers that I had that kind of relationship with. Those teachers were willing to participate in finding solutions, shared good stuff as well as bad, and understood themselves to be professionals.

  12. But I tend t agree with mini, I have one such neighbour and she is blind when it comes to her kids. When we complaint that her kids hit ours she says our kids must have annoyed hers. How come all out of all six only her kids hit ours never ours hit eah other. rest four go along well. then whatever our kids ahieve her kids have achieved long before ours even came even closer to it. Name an incident where your child got complient and she is there with the story that when her kids were not even that age had done that. Like my kid only nine happened to beat (may be that older kid lst deliberately) in chess a 20 year old and when I asked that kid he was just complimenting me that no aunty he really knows some good moves. This lady just butts in our conversation telling us all that how (Her one kid is a year older to mine) was only six when he was a champion in chess and really knew all the moves. Once when one of our common acquaintence asked me why she has never seen my son and not even noticed him when we had met in the market, she again interrupted us by asking that lady if she had seen her precious son. Ithappens all the time and I agree that some parents are too blind to see their own kids as they are and sometimes are really irritating.

  13. I think some teachers can also be in denial of their own abilities.

    During my eldest daughter’s first parent-teacher conference, her Kindergarten teacher indicated that my daughter was “working on her sight words” which I found fascinating because my daughter was beyond that and read chapter books at home. I had to press and show samples of our at home reading material. My daughter was retested. Low and behold, she was out-reading her peers. The sad thing is that the first 2-1/2 months of class were wasted as the teacher did not appropriately evaluate or challenge my daughter. This was in a class of 18 with a full-time teachering aide.

    For my second child (same Kindergarten teacher), I advocated for her starting on day 1 with slightly better results. However, when my 3rd child entered school the following year, we just gave up and transferred to another school.

  14. Mimi,

    You say venting, I say mocking. It was the tone that I found disturbing, not to mention unprofessional.

    I didn’t just read a couple of sentences. I spent some time going over other posts and comments.

  15. One thing to keep in mind is that even young children can be aware enough of the social dynamics in the classroom to want to “hide” their true abilities. So the child who is indeed reading “Harry Potter” at home may play dumb in the classroom in order not to stand out from his/her peers. If the parent isn’t aware of the classroom behavior and the teacher isn’t aware of the home behavior, there’s going to be a discrepancy between what each thinks of the child.

  16. John Dewey says:

    I agree with Susan. The tone was such that when I read it I found myself thinking “Gee, I hope she wouldn’t think ill of me”. Then I caught myself and wondered who the hell was “she” anyway?

  17. Just because they stink and make my job harder.

    Because it’s all about you.

    I think we could all benefit from laughing about it a bit.

    Laughing? All I read was whining and putting down other people – which is always a laff-riot