As a teacher I'm usually on the other side of the desk for parents' evening, but this week it was my turn to hear about the shortcomings or otherwise of my children. Except that at three-and-a-half and one-and-a-third respectively you might expect the issues to be a little different.
My husband and I dutifully squash ourselves down into the low mini-chairs that the children use, flesh oozing unattractively over the sides, to hear that all is wonderful in the pre-school world of Gertie (apart from the fact that they are not allowed to encourage her literacy, but we didn't seem to be able to bring that up). She is good and listens and is extremely helpful and always polite. Oh. Do they have the right child? We look through her 'Learning Journal' at all the boxes that have been ticked. There are a scary amount of categories in which she is expected to succeed, but she, and consequently we, appear to have passed most of the tests.
So the first meeting goes well. Smiling, we move on to Gilby. And we learn that he will be staying behind in the Baby Room (oh dear, being kept back already) because though he is due to move up to 'Toddlers' in six weeks time, he's not yet walking so it wouldn't be safe. So his Learning Journal has not so many boxes ticked and he seems to be a little, well, below average, in a few sections.
I try to explain that his elder sister was just as slow at getting to her feet, and that perhaps Gilby is compensating by, um, being good at words. Whilst his 'key-worker' is smiling and nodding sympathetically, I can't help feeling as though I have somehow engineered this slow-walking situation and am responsible for his disappointing behaviour.
So he's gone from being the youngest baby in the nursery by a good few months to being the oldest by some way. Still, the ratio of staff to children is better in this room, so every cloud...
We eventually make it to our feet, escaping from the Lilliputian chairs, and wonder what parents' evening will be like when they are both actually in school; when there are many, many more boxes to be ticked and tests to be passed.
And it seems that perhaps the issues aren't so very different after all.