Only Child Teacher Woes

Dear Mother of the Only Child, (and just fyi, he may be the only child in YOUR home, but at school?  He is most certainly NOT.)

I don’t pretend to know the reasons why you have only one child.  It may be that you wanted more and couldn’t conceive.  If so, you have my sympathies.  It may be that you chose to have only one, whether because the world is overpopulated, (applause for recognition of this,) or for financial reasons, or possibly because you realized that this one child was either, a. perfect and no further children were necessary, or, b. a total and utter complete pain in the ass and you didn’t want to have more of those.

For me, as his teacher, he is a total and utter pain in the ass.  Even you alluded to this during our parent-teacher conference.  You said that he makes you want to pull your hair out.  You stated, to my face, that I must also want to pull my hair out.  I can’t say that is my exact response to how your child makes me feel on a daily basis, because hair pulling isn’t really my thing.  But your point was made.  Yes.  Yes, your child definitely makes me want to do something, but not to myself.  What I want to do sometimes involves duct tape and a locker in the hallway, far away from my hearing range.

And yet… and yet… despite the fact that you and I are in constant contact via email about the various behavior issues and other shenanigans your brilliant child engages in daily, and despite your acknowledgement of said issues, you follow up this conference with a request for me.

(I swallow hard, here, gritting my teeth.)  I have to compose an answer to your request.  My answer will need to be short, clear, diplomatic, and free of profanity.  I have not yet reached the point where I can do this, so here is my real answer.

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME???!!!  Let me get this straight.  YOU are choosing to go on a vacation when school is IN SESSION.  It happens to occur right when I have my birthday, which I always celebrate at school by having a fun day to celebrate reading month.  All normal activities are suspended and we wear pajamas, read all day, have popcorn, and just enjoy the rewards of being readers. Naturally, your child is unhappy that he will miss this event due to the vacation you planned.  And you seriously have asked me to have ANOTHER fun day like that for YOUR child’s birthday later in the month. !!!  Yes.  (

For anyone reading this who is NOT the parent of an over-indulged only child, you are picking your jaw up from the floor where it dropped a moment ago.  Yes, this parent, who knows full well that her child makes my days worthy of pulling out my own hair, this parent, who knows her child is supposed to be having CONSEQUENCES for his behavior, NOT rewards, THIS PARENT has the audacity to ask me for this absurd and, frankly, completely selfish favor!)

Have you NO concept of the other 24 students who ALSO have birthdays that will not be marked by a special, all-day read-in?  Have you NO awareness of how absolutely inappropriate your request is?  Clearly not.  I think perhaps your request stems from all these years of making sure he gets whatever he really wants.  Well, it’s time to WAKE UP!  This is LIFE, and in LIFE, you make choices and there are rewards and/or consequences of those choices.  It would be NICE  if your prodigy had some inkling of this.

In short, dear parent, the answer is NO.  NO FUCKING WAY am I rewarding, of ALL children, YOUR disruptive, rude, manipulative, immature, sneaky child with a celebration of his birthday to match the celebration of my own, all because YOU chose to take him out of school, causing him to miss said celebration.

Here is what you tell your child.  “Child, in life there are choices.  I have made the choice to take you on vacation during this time when something extra fun is happening in school.  As a result, you will miss that particular day.  I understand that is disappointing to you.  You will survive.  I get that you are unhappy.  You will be okay.  It’s okay if you are mad at me.  You will get over it.  Now, we are done discussing this because it’s what is happening whether you like it or not.  Let’s talk about the fun things you will get to do on vacation instead!”

Parent, I know that parenting is hard.  It truly is the most difficult job there is.  (Teaching may rival it though…)  Did someone tell you that it would be easy?  Did you somehow miss the fact that there are volumes of books on parenting, all because of people like you?  Where did you get the idea that your child has to always be happy, always be enamored with you?  (And, oh, he is.  ONLY an only child would name their fictional adventure character of a story after their mother…)  I am here to tell you that your child needs to experience disappointment and learn how to cope with it because life throws a LOT of it at us.  Your child will someday be independent of you.  Maybe.  Or perhaps you will continue parenting in this way and he will remain in your home, unable to make it in the real world because you have utterly FAILED at your most important job of making sure your kid can survive independent of YOU.

Luckily, he is young.  It’s not too late.  Yet.

I will help you get started by telling you that there is no fucking way, no chance at all, absolutely zero possibility that I will grant your preposterous request.


-Your Child’s Teacher

ps. Stop trying to find out about my personal life and medical issues.  They are none of your business.  If I wanted you to know, I would tell you.  Draw some boundaries, lady.