I typically don’t tell teachers their business. I’m not the one with a four-year degree, a license and countless years of experience in the classroom, so I tend to avoid walking into my kid’s class on “meet the teacher” night and rattling off a list of demands and instructions that hilariously imply that my child is the only one they’ll be with all year and that they are paid enough to act like it.
But there is one thing I rally for. One issue that I press with irritating importance. One request that is ignored, year after year, to the detriment of everyone involved: Please, please, split my child up from her best friend.
I love the girl who holds the other part to my kid’s cracked-heart BFF necklace. She is a sweet, fiery, bright, opinionated and kind girl. How could I not love her? She reminds me a lot of my own daughter. You know that saying about opposites attracting? Not in this case. Having my kid’s bestie in my house is like having two of my own kid in my house. Her mom feels the same way.
And while it goes without saying that I love my own child dearly, you know what you don’t want two of in one room when the goal is to learn and not to play? At a shared desk? Next to each other? Across from each other? My kid.
Every year, because some force in the universe hates me, my child and her friend are placed in the same classroom when they go back to school. Without fail, they’re at the same desk. Every year, I pull the teacher aside and gently warn her: Do not do this thing. Split them up. Give my kid one of those horse blinker things, or drape her with a blanket like you would a noisy parrot, and don’t even let on that her friend is within 5 miles. Trust me.
They never trust me.
I don’t know what they see on paper. Two intelligent girls with good grades and no behavioral issues to speak of, probably. Which is great. But I know what they’ll see within the first two weeks of school. Two intelligent girls, one who can’t focus worth a lick and another who just loves the high-octane life of mile-a-minute anime recaps and verbal Minecraft tutorials. Girls that get louder and louder and louder. Girls that whip each other up and, though they may not mean to, take time away from cursive and fractions and papier mâché and spend it all on their own private world.
They’ll meet two biffies with a dynamic so tight it’s impenetrable. One is a little too sensitive. The other is a little too protective. They’ll find that as long as one has the other’s attention, three isn’t just company — three doesn’t exist. Not even when three is Mrs. Three, heretofore known as the boss of you until next summer.
Inevitably this means they will also not meet my daughter — really meet her — until after they’ve grown accustomed to this version of her. Some of them, speaking from experience, will not take the disorder that we’ve been struggling to treat seriously; it will look like apathy, full stop.
They won’t see how much she loves to learn or know that when she fails, it is not because she is a flighty, inconsiderate child who won’t pay attention. By the time I am sitting across from her teacher again at the end-of-quarter parent-teacher conference, they will hand me a list of all the ways my child falls short, and they will place the blame squarely on her friend’s shoulders. Maybe when her friend’s mother walks in, she’ll get the same talk.
They will note that now that they’ve corrected the issue by separating the girls, things seem to be improving. Let’s hope it isn’t too late for them to pull it together. They’ve got their eye on those two. This kind of thing is unacceptable.
And I will agree with them. My child is not perfect. When she’s side by side with her BFF, they aren’t in the classroom or even in my kitchen after school — they aren’t even on the same planet. And it is unacceptable. School is for learning. And yes, I’m sure it is improving now that you’ve separated them, which is what I begged you to do two months ago.
And I too will hope it isn’t too late.