Tag Archives: communication

Hello parents! Anyone listening?

This fall I’ve learned a big lesson – don’t try to communicate with adults through their ten-year old children. It doesn’t work. The group in question, of course, is my 5th grade CCD class. (This is religious education for the kids in our parish who do not go to Catholic schools. Protestants call it “Sunday school” except ours is on Wednesday evenings.) This is my eighth year teaching 5th grade, and for some reason, we have had more of a need to get announcements to the parents than in past years. One big issue has been our Christmas pageant. Our class was asked to provide readers/narrators. However, this involved only half the class, which created the opportunity for confusion over schedules, etc.

Unfortunately, announcements made in class go through the filters of 10 or 11 year-olds, who may or may not remember to pass it on to their parents (and may or may not get the information correct.) Even written hand-outs don’t always make it to their intended destination. Of course an in-class announcement or handout is useless for a student who isn’t there that evening.

Then you have the students who deliver the message properly and accurately, but their parents don’t believe them.

Mother of troublesome child: “Yes, she told me that you told her she shouldn’t come to class tonight unless she was in the pageant, but I told her she must have been mistaken.”

Me: “No, she got it right. (And thank you for bringing her. It was a real pleasure to have her here with nothing to do except annoy the other children who are involved in the program.”

I maintain a second blog to update parents on what we are teaching and talking about on a weekly basis. However, judging from the number of “hits” it gets each week, I can see that most of our parents are not taking advantage of this resource to stay informed.

The inability to communicate with parents presents real problems when trying to schedule things like the pageant. One program will be during a regular CCD class time slot. That isn’t much of a problem; the kids should be there anyway. However, a second presentation will be at 6 pm Mass on Christmas Eve. The children have no control over their schedule. They can say they want to read at Christmas Eve Mass, but if their parents have another idea for the family, the little darlings have no say in the matter.

We have one boy who really wants to participate. He stopped my co-teacher in his school parking lot last week and told her how excited he was to be involved. The problem is — he was there for the first introductory run-though of the program but hasn’t been seen since. He missed the next two practices during the regular class time-slots as well as our special Saturday morning rehearsal. So do we penalize the kid because Mom can’t get remember when the rehearsals are and get him there? (FYI – If he shows up, we’ll let him read.)

In January, I’ll assemble an email list and see if that works any better.

Bottom line – I love the kids. The parents are a little exasperating.

Love via the thermostat

It’s a long standing issue with Mrs. Poolman and myself, that we are comfortable at different ambient temperatures. Being post-menopausal, she is prone to hot flashes and definitely likes a lower room temperature. During the winter, she’ll be sitting in the family room in scrubs or a tee shirt, while I’ll be wearing sweats and have a blanket wrapped around me.

“Are you cold?” she’ll ask.

“No,” I reply.

“Well why do you have a blanket on?”

“Because if I didn’t, I WOULD be cold.”

On the other hand, she is much less tolerant of warmer temps in the summer. I’m happy with the AC set at 78. She needs it around 74.

That brings us to today’s story. Mrs. P left work early because she wasn’t feeling entirely on top of her game. She came home, called me and told me she was home, and then layed down on the couch and took a five hour nap.

When she woke up in the late afternoon, she thought there was something seriously wrong. She was hot and drenched in sweat. She was ready to call her doctor and tell her that something was seriously amiss.

Then she checked the thermostat.

82 degrees.

When both of us are at work, I reset the thermostat during the heat of the day. I get home a couple of hours before her and reset it to 76 or 77 before she gets home.

I didn’t think to tell her and she hadn’t thought about it.

On the good side, it’s a lot easier to just reset the thermostat than fix your hormones. Or so she tells me.

Questions and answers

Mrs. Poolman and I don’t always communicate as well as we should. I suppose that is probably true of most married couples. Wives generally, and maybe justifiably, blame it on the husbands. In our case, that may be partially (or substantially) true, but we have another issue that is sometimes funny and sometimes frustrating. Mrs. P is simply incapable of answering a simple question. She will jump around or jump ahead, but almost never does she simply answer the question I have asked. She is a lot smarter than I am so she is probably reading my mind and anticipating what I am really trying to ask, and answering my second or third question, but on occasion it can be frustrating all the same.

This morning, Mrs. P heard my alarm go off when she was about to walk out the door to go to work. She came into our bedroom with car keys in hand while I was sitting on the edge of the bed still trying to come awake. I was already thinking ahead to this evening. Since she is working, I’m responsible for dinner. We have several options, but I did not want to duplicate whatever she took for lunch.

Me: “Did you pack chicken salad for your lunch?”

Her: “Chicken salad would be all right.”

Huh?

Did she mean:

  • She packed chicken salad for her lunch but it would be all right to have it for dinner also?
  • Chicken salad would be all right for her lunch?
  • She really didn’t really want to have chicken salad for either meal, but didn’t want to come right out and say so.

That is too much thinking for me when I’m not entirely awake yet.

We have exchanges like this all the time.

Me: “Do we have any vacuum cleaner bags?”

Her: “I vacuumed yesterday.”

Or…

Me: “Have you already fed the dogs?”

Her: “We’re almost out. Would you pick some up on your way home tomorrow?”

Or…

Me (when she arrives home from work): “Can I fix you a drink?”

Her: “I have to go to the bathroom.”

Or…

Me: “Would you like sliced tomatoes or green beans with dinner?”

Her: “I had a salad for lunch.”

Oh well. I guess little mysteries like these keep the spark in a relationship.