It’s the beginning of the new school year which means the return of one of my favourite groups of people. No, not the new students. But you’re close.
The new school year inevitably brings out these special people who haven’t quite figured out that the largish, hairy, verbally capable, diaper-less creature they are towing along behind them is not, in fact, a toddler with a pituitary problem but an ADULT.
And so we are faced time and time again by the same situation.
A group, normally of three (mother, father and child) approach the desk. One or the other parent (usually the father for some reason) will approach the desk while the other two stand back, the child of the group staring sheepishly at the floor.
“Hello. This (pointing) is my son/daughter and he/she is just starting school.”
At this point the other parent of the group will normally shove the child in the direction of the desk.
“We need to know what he/she is going to need before he/she starts classes.”
They will often turn to the child and say something stupid along the lines of “Well ask the lady what you need.” The child may or may not glance up from the floor and mumble something that sounds shockingly like what their parent just finished saying, I suppose to ensure I understood if I should, let’s say, not understand English but am fluent in Mumble.
All three will then conclude this performance by staring at me expectantly.
(I’d like to add that this happens with such frequency and consistency that I have wondered if it might not be part of some larger performance piece that is all rehearsed in advance.)
Now, it is my job to answer sincerely and to try and stifle my condescension as best I can. Some days that is easier said than done.
“Well first, sir/madam, they can start by leaving you at home. They might follow that up by putting on their big kid pants and come back again when they realize that this is an institution for adults.
“You see, unlike their first day of kindergarten, parents need not trot their young around asking all of the tough questions like “where do I need to start?” for them because they are, as you might have picked up by now, a fucking adult. By this point they should be perfectly capable of conversing on their own and if they are not, short of some kind of disability, I would be seriously questioning your ability to parent anything more than a houseplant.
“I would also expect that they will need to understand that you will not be able to come to every class with them to hold their hand, to make sure they understand everything in every class, to ensure that their assignments are both understood and completed in a timely fashion, to find each and every research item for them and. most importantly of all, that none of the staff have the time, the patience or the interest to do any of those things for them in your absence.
“And finally, they will seriously need to pull the cotton out of their mouths, learn to make eye contact, grow a spine and learn to speak up. No one here is likely to stop and ensure that they are comprehending everything and, let me assure you, NO ONE likes a mumbler.
“If your child can find it in themselves to reach all of these lofty goals, they MIGHT stand a chance here. If not, I suggest you save a lot of money and everyone a great deal of time and effort and leave now.
“Thank you for stopping by and if the universe has any sense of justice at all, I will never, ever see you again.”