#263: A Parent Paints a Portrait of Her Daughter for the Teacher


She came in after school
for a conference about her daughter.
She wanted to paint a picture;
She wanted this teacher to know her child
in some of the ways that only a mother
could know. So she started with the things
she loved, hoping that it would be clear:
She’s neat and tidy, my daughter.
She’s super sweet and caring.
She’s very helpful around the house.
She clears the table and helps with
the chores. She walks the dog
every day without being asked.
She takes good care of her little
brother. He has Aspergers, you know.
And a lisp. And he limps on the one leg
on account of being thrown by a horse.
But she always makes him feel like
he’s just on the top of the world, you know,
like none of those things even matter.
I know this doesn’t have very much to do
with her missing assignments, but I know
how difficult it is for teachers to get to know
their students well, and so I’m telling you this
so that you know better what kind of kid
she really is. I think, if I could put it simply:

my daughter has a strong moral compass.

One time, though, she broke the living room window
and then lied about how it happened.
And one other time she lied to us about
being out late with her boyfriend. Yeah, sometimes
she lies. Stupid kid stuff. She did get caught
shoplifting, though. What a debacle that was.
Some three hundred dollars worth of costume jewelry.
There was that one morning when the neighbor’s
ten Koi fish went all belly up in their pond.
The sling shots were found in their back yard.
Yeah, they were hers. She was supposed to feed
the fish while they were out, not kill them.
That was almost the last straw, you know.
We were this close to having her institutionalized
but she became in short order her usual self
and we forgot. You see, that’s what I want you to know.
She’s neat and tidy, she helps around the house,
and she loves her little brother with Aspergers.
Please give her another chance to make up her
late, her very late, her very, very late assignments.

Published by michaeljarmer

I'm a public high school English teacher, fiction writer, poet, and musician in Portland, Oregon

5 thoughts on “#263: A Parent Paints a Portrait of Her Daughter for the Teacher

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