Last week we had Braden's parent teacher conference.
We were excited - we love going to Braden's school. Remember last year when I wrote that post about how I was all in a tizzy about Braden changing schools? Well, turns out it was the best decision we ever made. Seriously. This new preschool is amazing and warm and nurturing and impressive and worth every ridiculously expensive penny.
So suffice it to say, we couldn't wait to go and pat ourselves on the back once again about making such a great decision for our child. And of course, we couldn't wait to hear all wonderful things about our little angel.
Generally, it was all wonderful. It's so great to talk to people who get your kid, who care about your kid, and who can give you insights that even you as a parent might not know. They talked about Braden's strengths, weaknesses, interactions with other kids, and at the end, there was an elaborate display of his artwork.
Let me start by saying that neither my husband nor I are even the least bit artistic or crafty, so I was pretty impressed at the size of Braden's portfolio. And I was equally impressed when I saw Braden's self portrait, which had legs, arms, a face, etc. That is, until I caught the details, and the caption.
Here's Self Portrait #1:
Hmmmm, I said to the teacher, Is that a sad face?
She smiled a bit, and read me the caption (which he had dictated to her):
In case you can't read it, it says: "It's a sad face - because my mom is screaming at me."
Apparently that was a bit too dark, so they asked him to do one more self portrait, with a happy face.
Here is Self Portrait #2:
Ahhh, that's much better, right? Then I read the caption on this version:
This one says, "It's a happy face because my mom stopped screaming at me."
Oh dear God.
Let me say this about my parenting - I'm not a screamer. Really, I'm not. I try to reserve the screaming/yelling for moments that really matter - like when Braden tries to open a hot oven, or kicks his brother in the face, or splashes water out of the toilet, or stomps on the Ipad, or runs into a crowded street, or throws large items against the wall, or creates a pool of pepper from our pepper shaker which he then rubs into his eyes. Yeah, I admit it, at those times I yell. Scream, if you will.
But you know what makes me sad? Braden won't remember that. He won't remember the reason why his mommy was screaming at him. He'll just have this vision in his head, as he gets older, of this poor, innocent child, being yelled at by his antagonistic, evil mother. And so it begins.
We all laughed about the self portraits in the parent teacher conference. In fact, it was my funny story of the day and I damn well nearly told every person I saw that day (this may have included a Starbucks barrister). But man, all in all, when I really think about it, it makes me kind of feel like a big pile of poo.
(And if you happen to comment on this thread, please be nice, as I'm feeling vulnerable about this these days).
But it also kind of makes me smirk. Because that's Braden. He's a manipulative one, that one. Maybe it was the morning of the toilet splashing incident. Maybe he went to school pissed. And maybe when he did that self portrait, he thought to himself, I'm really going to stick it to her.
Well done, Braden. I can't say you aren't clever.
I love that boy.
I'll end this post with my favorite piece of "artwork" we saw that day - Braden's definition of kindness:
Truer words have never been spoken.