I realized this afternoon after the first day of school was completed that I am not going to be voted dad of the year. As a parent, you never quite know what that fateful date on the annual calendar will bring to your children. This year I have one son beginning his final year as undergraduate student. And then I have another son who is starting his freshman year in college. My youngest is beginning his freshman year in high school. I heard from him first today.
Mitchell seemed pleased with the outcome of his first day at Crossland 9th Grade Center. Apparently there are new freedoms over there that are not afforded to the students on the middle school campuses. But there was one minor hitch today.
He informed me that his Spanish teacher told him that his pronounced Texas drawl was impeding his pronunciation of the Spanish words they were learning today. How could that be, I thought? I asked him to say a few words for me in Spanish. I listened carefully to his pronunciation of such words as “gustar” and “como.” Mitchell, I said gently: Your Texas drawl is holding you back, my friend.
He did not find that amusing in the least. But what can we expect? The kid was born in Lubbock and learned to talk when we were living in Muleshoe. I know for a fact that he has an excellent teacher, so he will learn a lot in that class this year. Spanish class turned out to revelatory for him in another way as well today.
Apparently his older brothers have been referring to him as: “la niña loca” for quite some time. Of course he discovered today that they have been calling him a crazy little girl. I am sure such a revelation just made his day. Once again I was not such a good dad… I could no help but laugh. Mitchell is pretty quick. I think his Spanish teacher will find that he will work around the Texas accent and learn to communicate quite well in a new language. He will be calling his brothers names that they will be forced to look up in a Spanish dictionary in no time at all.
I am reminded on this first day of school of the importance of taking students where they are and moving them to the next level. That is a basic principle of education, but it can sure get lost in the myriad of expectations that professional educators are loaded down with in increasing measure every year. I can’t imagine trying to teach Spanish to a group of 9th graders who have never said “hola” to another soul in their life. But that task will be accomplished this year.
Let’s encourage our teachers this year. They take students where they are developmentally and move them on to new and exciting levels. I am proud of Mitchell’s attitude toward school this year. I think he really want to excel.
And I am thinking that it would be good for me to tell him that I had a Spanish teacher in a continuing education course one summer tell me that my Spanish pronunciation was being held back by my Texas drawl. I just could not tell him today. I was having too much fun with him. I am such a great dad…OK, I will encourage the teachers this year, but first I will start by working in a kind word on behalf of my Spanish student. It would probably be a good idea for all of us to build our kids up in their academic endeavors this year. And I had better straighten up, or I will never be voted dad of the year.