Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Volunteer in hiding

Well, I guess this serves me right for making the big effort to volunteer at my kids' school: I've got to hide from the both of them while I'm on the premises. My daughter's long made it clear that she'd just as soon not see me during school hours, and if we do happen to cross paths, I oughtn't to try anything flagrant and embarrassing like eye contact. But my son's always seemed happy enough to have me working the library desk when he came in with his class -- too happy, apparently. His teacher this year reports that he gets overexcited at the prospect of seeing me, and this causes him to engage in un-library-like behavior like pushing, hitting, talking out of turn, and generally bugging the heck out of everybody. He's not like that in class, she assures me -- just when he's seeing, or going to be seeing, Mom.

I'd like to believe that's not so, but here's where it gets tricky: I've made a big, big deal about behavior analysis, and from a behavior analysis point of view, if there's something that seems to raise the child's stress level to the point where he loses control -- and if you note a pattern of problems surrounding a particular set of circumstances -- you change the environment to eliminate that thing. I never thought that "that thing" would be me, but it's hard to argue against it and for anything else. If I didn't like the teacher so much, I'd suspect she was doing this to get back at me for coming on strong about behavior management; but as it is, I think it's certainly worth withdrawing and seeing if my absence makes his heart grow calmer.

So I'll do my library time when his class isn't, and if I hear his little piping voice coming down the hallway I'll go into lockdown mode and hide away from windows and doors, hoping not to be seen. I'll still be able to contribute to the well-being of the school, and I'll still be able to network with whichever educators I can ambush in a hallway. But as for actually spying on my own personal kids -- do you think the school would allow me to donate a few two-way mirrors?

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