Back to school means return of ‘those’ parents

Viva is headed to second grade. That means it’s time for my wife and I to go back into “concerned parent of a student” mode. How do concerned parents usually express their investment in their children’s education? By aggravating their child’s teachers to near madness.

Some parents sugar their child’s educators, then ask for special consideration. (“We heard you like Starbucks, Mr. Teacher … oh, by the way…”) Others harass the teachers and administrators with strident rhetoric and private meeting tantrums. (“Don’t you know who I am? I’m a daddy blogger of some renown!”) Others still are passive aggressive, never missing a chance to put in their two cents about how the school should be run. (“Hello, Madame Principal! I didn’t know you shopped in this grocery store! You know, I’ve been thinking…”) 

Me and the missus? We’re all of the above.

I don’t know exactly when we become the parents that teachers hide behind easels to avoid, but Viva’s preschool instructors would probably say, “By the end of the first informational meeting.” The transformation was instant and complete, like pushy parent werewolves just waiting for the full moon of matriculation. 

We’re more or less warm and mindful in “real life,” (Maybe? I think?) but if you’re teaching our kid we’re insufferable. Worst of all, we both teach so we should know better. We’ve been face to face with anxious, obtrusive parents, and we rarely take to them … yet, here we are.

We’ve met the enemy, and they are us.

It seems the protective paternal/maternal instinct simply trumps politeness and, frequently, good sense. We love our child and we know enough to be dangerous, so woe betide any instructor, principal or dean who shares their contact information with us—you’re going to get a response to every update you send, and if you list office hours, we’re taking some. 

It comes from a good place, I promise, but if you teach Viva, I apologize in advance. You just gained a marvelous student … and her terrible Dad.

Viva Teachers. Viva Viva. Viva Daddy.

Viva is 7 years old. Daddy is about 6x that age. They live happily with Mommy in Chicago.

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This article originally appeared in the August 2019 issue of Chicago Parent. Read the rest of the issue.

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