Two Arms, Two Legs and a Face…..OH MY!

Most any Wednesday evening I can be found sitting in front of the television with several family members, as we prepare to watch our favorite show ~ ABC’s Modern Family.  Rarely do I like to watch a repeat of any show, but with Modern Family I can always count on catching something that I missed the previous showing, as I tend to miss things when I’m laughing, and this comedy has me in stitches all of the time.

This past Wednesday, ABC aired one of my favorite episodes ~ “Unplugged“, where Mitchell and his partner, Cameron, felt that they had been hood-winked by all the other mothers in their child’s play-group, regarding signing up their daughter, Lily, for the ever-necessary preschool.  It appears that all the mothers had misled Mitchell and Cameron as to when they were applying for preschool; throwing them off track, in order to secure the coveted spot at Billingsley Academy.  The acting was hilarious, but now that both of my daughters are in high school (one a freshman and one a senior ~ my “bookends”) the subject matter fit the hilarious bill, as well.

While Mitchell and Cam are running around frantically, vying for a position in one of two preschools, their panicky and self-doubting comments took me back to what I consider a bizarre parent/teacher conference, regarding my youngest during her preschool days.  Having been an involved parent volunteering in the classroom, as we were all required to do; chaperoning on field trips; talking with the teachers at drop-off and pick-up ~ the concept of a formal parent/teacher conference for a newly-turned 4 year old seemed rather bizarre in and of itself, but who was I to buck the system?  I guess there are those that need to hear how wonderful “Little Precious” is doing, as well as those that need to be told that “Billy Biter” needs to stop!!!!

Well, the day of the conference arrives and here we go!  I park the car, take my daughter to the preschool playground, watch her having a blast with her friends and then head off to meet with her teacher, who also serves as the director to the program.  Not only is she the teacher, but she’s the head honcho, the big boss, the rule-setter…. so she must know what she is talking about, right?

Ms. Teacher and I sit down, exchange pleasantries and then we get down to business.  First off, I get to hear about all the wonderful things that my daughter does…. “but she doesn’t engage a lot with the other children”, I’m told.  I let that comment go quickly, because I see her engage with the neighborhood children ALL of the time.  If she can hang with her sister and other elementary aged children, on a daily basis with no problem, I’m not going to sweat that comment.  Plus, I just witnessed her having a blast with her friends on the playground!  So, I politely nodded my head, knowing what I knew, and just let it go!!!!!

Well, she wasn’t done…. she was going to alarm me one way or another.  She proceeded to tell me that while all the other children were so happy to have completed their reindeer project (one drawing – hardly a project), she couldn’t get my daughter to finish hers. “Oh my”, quickly shot through my mind.  “What delinquency will this lead to and what will the other parents think of me?” was the next train running through my mind.  As I sat there, not having fallen out of my little preschool seat, yet….  I, again,  politely nodded my head and just let it gooooooooooooo!!!!

Thinking and thanking that my time was about up with this nonsense, she looked at me as though there was something of even more importance that she needed to share with me.  “Oh, do tell”, was on the tip of my tongue, but I bit my tongue instead, and politely nodded my head, as to go on…. by now my neck is tired of all this nodding that is taking place and I just wanted her to get on with it…kind of like having a tooth pulled ~ just do it and get it over with!  Hmmm… I wonder if my degenerative disc condition of my C-spine has anything to do with ALL of the nodding that I have done over the years?

So, I’m thinking that the other two concerns haven’t shaken me to the core, so this one that she is saving for last must really be a DOOZIE.  Holding my breath, I almost shudder to think what dreadful comment is looming around the bend.  I’m told in no uncertain terms that any time that my daughter draws a person, whether it be herself, a family member or a friend, it is ALWAYS and I repeat ALWAYS the same!  You know the one – the head that has two arms and legs protruding from it – the trunkless body, as we call it in our family.

"Don't worry about me... I'm HAPPY!!"

“Do you think that she has a chance in completing elementary school?” was what I wanted to ask, but I knew if I did I would fall out of that tiny itty bitty chair and laugh until I cried.  Instead of being the smart-ass that I wanted to be, I was however smart….

I asked to look at my daughter’s file… the one on the itty bitty little table that we were hovering over, the one that held ALL of my daughter’s artwork, except for the gems that had already made their way home.  This was the file that held the tell-tale sign of all the troubles ahead.  As I faked a look of concern, I started to look at each and every one of the enclosed pictures; I was going to find evidence of exactly what I knew about my daughter.  You see, she’s my youngest, so I have the advantage of prior experience with another daughter.  I also have some specific knowledge regarding early childhood development, that I picked up while earning my degree in psychology.  Most importantly, I know my daughter and myself; there is a confidence that comes with knowledge, time and experience.

The findings in the file were exactly what I had expected to see; plus, there was an added bonus.  The bonus was the completed reindeer project…. yes, completed – meaning FINISHED.  Regarding the “trunkless body” people, they were there; all of them – family, friends and my youngest. I seriously studied each and every drawing that was in this file; this is my daughter’s future we’re conferencing about, right?

Well, my findings didn’t surprise me, but somehow I think my comment surprised Ms. Teacher.  “You are absolutely right, Ms. Teacher!  Every single person that she drew is a ‘trunkless body’.  However, what I find to be of the most importance is the fact that on each and EVERY one of those faces….. is a SMILE!”  There was nothing indicating that my child was sad or scared or worried.  Her drawings were those of a beginner; one in which she was trying to produce representational art.  Those smiles on her artwork were exactly what I thought I would find, as they were very representational of her life… and they still are today! 🙂

So, her artwork may not have been the best in the class, per her teacher, but who really gives a flip about perfection in a 4 year old?  Most days I had the girls outside playing, running, kicking balls, drawing hop-scotch boards on the driveway; not sequestered in their room practicing the art of drawing the perfect person.  My guess would be that if I had taken that route, my daughter might be able to draw the perfect body, but I highly doubt it would be wearing a smile.

To “Cam and Mitchell” and all those out there that are at the beginning of your life with children ~ you know your child better than anyone; trust in your God-given instinct, regarding what’s right or wrong for your child; don’t believe everything someone tells you about your child, just because they have a title; and finally and most importantly ~ when there are smiles on their artwork, and smiles between their chubby little cheeks ~ things are looking pretty good!

About Carol H. Rives

Wife, mother of two, friend to many. Enjoys reading and writing about education, family, friendship and life, in general. Loves spending quality time with family and friends; making new memories and cherishing the ones of the past. Some favorite interests include: volunteering, exercising, hiking, writing, knitting, baking/cooking, gardening and collecting thought-provoking quotes. Try to live my life in a "pause and smile" kind of way!!
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16 Responses to Two Arms, Two Legs and a Face…..OH MY!

  1. Jeff Silvey says:

    Nice post, thanks for this.

    We love Modern Family here, even the repeats. Hi-larity. Yes, we should all take other’s comments about our children with a grain of salt. Nobody knows your kid as much as you do. Besides, it’s so easy for someone to misunderstand what any particular child is meaning when they don’t know the child very well.

    • Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words. I think the real reason that I like Modern Family so much is not only for its humor, but it allows me to laugh at the mistakes that I have made, as I watch others doing the same things!!
      ~Carol 🙂

  2. elliona says:

    Spot on! Been there! During my four year old daughter’s parent teacher conference earlier this year, I was told that, because she doesn’t hold the pencil properly and still rushes through her colorings that she will fall behind next year in Kindergarten and therefore, they were recommending her for Jr. Kindergarten at their school. To which I replied, “She’s 4.” Smile and nod. Smile and nod!

  3. Allie Rives says:

    This was such an inspirational blog. I can tell that you did and currently are raising your high school girls quite well 🙂 I really liked your sense of dry humor when it comes to explaining the “so-called” conference with Ms. Teacher to us readers. Oh and tell your youngest that the drawing of the SMILING person is magnificent! I hope to raise my kids as great you seem to have!

    • Carol Rives says:

      Thank you for your kind words! I will definitely let my youngest know that you appreciate her “magnificent” drawing. I must tell you that she has come a long way…. no limits to her ability!
      ~Carol

  4. TIM says:

    “Oh, do tell”….. I love it! How did you keep your composure? You handled that perfectly.

    I think Ms. Teacher could have been the star of the documentary, A Road to Nowhere.

    What does every parent want for their children… to be happy and healthy! Who is the expert here…Mom and Dad.

    • Happy and healthy are the top two for me… they help all else fall into place, don’t they? I think a sense of humor helped in the composure area! 🙂
      Thanks for reading!!

  5. Extremely well-written post. Enjoyed the style it was written in as well as the message delivered. Admittedly, no children and not a viewer of Modern Family…but was a child once (!) and can appreciate what mom and dad were thinking while all that “evaluating” by others was going on.

    • I can’t begin to tell you how often I thank my parents for ALL that they did for me… not just what they provided in a materialistic manner, but for all of the support they provided, both obvious and behind the scenes.

      Thank you so much for your very kind words, as well as subscribing to Pause and Smile!

      ~Carol

  6. Kate says:

    This was a wonderful post! I can absolutely relate to the “trunkless” bodies…..we get that artwork on a daily basis….BUT they all have smiles! Love this!!!! Thanks for sharing!

  7. J H says:

    Great post. A good teacher is a precious commodity in this education starved society. Mediocre and poor teachers, and the self serving administrators that they conspire with are a plague on society. Be glad that your daughter didn’t accidentally scribble some lines that vaguely resembled an oblong object. The teacher and her cohorts might have decided she was drawing a “gun”. Your lawyers would still be talking to the police.

    You think I am being sarcastic? No. It has happened in several school districts.

    • Thanks for your comment. No, unfortunately I don’t think you are being sarcastic. Now that my children are older, I have seen so much more craziness; however, I am trying to focus on the positive, as I see it everyday. If I focus on the positive, it somehow helps me deal with the negative in a more productive manner. I’m terribly sorry that you have seen this happen; very sad.

  8. Loved this post. How you held it in while being briefed on the ‘Gloom and Doom’ scenario is priceless. And you know what? The thing I always remember about ‘your youngest’ is that she always had a smile on her face whenever I’d see her. Someone’s been doing something right 😉

    • I guarantee you that holding it together was only, and I repeat only, because “youngest” was just that, “youngest… meaning that this was not the first conference. I’m so glad that you remember her with a smile; she’s still pretty much the same way, today.

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