The magic ingredient, besides good teaching, in those high test scores that the school touts is...
(wait for it)...
(okay, on with it)...
I do not say this in a self-satisfied way.
I say it with extreme regret, anxiety, and sadness, as I must say goodbye to the minutes and hours of each day so that I can be enrolled in 2nd grade and kindergarten along with my children, and drag them through the accelerated level of homework for which they are quite not developmentally ready.
For years parents and teachers and presidents of, say, the United States have been emphasizing the importance of parental involvement in education.
At my child's school, it is a source of tremendous pride, but for me it seems time-consuming, unnecessary, and a bit embarrassing.
While test scores are a decent, though far from perfect indicator of student learning, our obsession with them of late has resulted in the free time of parents being offered up in exchange for flash cards, flash cards, and flash cards.
And flash cards.
I don't feel like a parent or even a teacher, but a coach.
We "drill and kill" as my child's kindergarten teacher calls it.
My kid cries, I yell, and we repeat the same routine over each day.
Next week, I'm getting a whistle, a clipboard, and I will scream in their ears until they vomit.
Then, I will wonder why my children prefer Sponge Bob to reading, even though I will have taught them that school is boring, parents are annoying, and that flash cards are the key to the advancement of all things.
What's worse, is that I'm quite good at doing things imperfectly.
I forget to remind my kids to return their library books or I don't check my daughter's homework to see if it matches the directions that the teacher sent me on her blog, since most kindergartners (lazy, aimless little suckers that they are) can't yet read.
I am, in fact, so inept that I told the teacher recently that I'm not a very good student and I apologize for any annoyance my family may cause her.
To really drive that point home, we show up late (only a few minutes) to school about once every two weeks.
We are clearly among the troublemakers.
Thankfully, my children are mostly polite and dress well.
Perhaps this is a bit of unconscious rebellion from the spoiling tactics of my kind mother who tirelessly danced circles around me, cheerfully chirping while picking up food wrappers, lost homework, and clean clothes with which I would litter her floor.
For some reason, when I was 19, we all wondered why I hadn't learned to clean, organize, or get out of a chair with regularity.
After dropping out of college the first time, I literally had to learn how to care enough to work hard.
I had cultivated an unrealistic optimism from having enjoyed the trampoline of my mother's love that cushioned my every childhood and adolescent fall.
My children, on the other hand, will see their mother lounging safely on the beach, scoffing at the riptide of over-involved parenting.
No, I never worry that this is the wrong choice.
If it is, I'll just send them to my mother's house.
In the meantime, my job is to avoid the teachers until my kids are off to community college.