You're only as happy as your unhappiest child, as the old adage goes. This probably goes some way to explaining why I feel so miserable this evening.
I've had a lovely day. Today is World Book Day, and we have been celebrating in school today, by inviting students to talk about a book they have loved and explain what is good about it. It's been, on the whole, really heart-warming to hear students and staff talk so enthusiastically about books, and lovely to hear them recommending books that their class mates might enjoy.
My good mood evaporated horribly when A came home, and promptly started being vile to us all. This is most unlike her, since she is generally very lovely to be around. Mindful of both my Lenten promise to shout less, and also of the fact that shouting at people doesn't tend to get them to open up to you about their problems, I sat down with her and asked her what the matter was. "My teacher hates me" she sobbed. "What makes you think that?" "She said I could have done neater handwriting on my work." A had translated this as both evidence of hatred of her by the teacher, and also that she can't write, will never be able to write, so what's the point of anything anyway. Oh, and she's never ever going to school again.
I tried to gently suggest that teachers always have to come up with a target for improvement, and perhaps handwriting just happened to be the most obvious one in this instance. Nothing doing. More sobs. We progressed to "everyone hates me". MrM stepped in with a chapter of Harry Potter, which at least slowed the rate of the tears. The power of books.
Deep down, I know we all have to go through these things, and that I will probably remember her sadness for much longer than she does. However, I wonder how many of the kids I teach were given "targets" designed to improve their reading, which actually just led them to feel like failures. The (fortunately minority of) students today who said "I hate reading/books/I can't read/books are boring" were almost certainly using this as a shield to protect them from the hurt of years of struggling. How sad that they should be denied one of life's great pleasures, because of their own perceptions of themselves as readers, which may well have been embedded by well-meaning targets. I can only hope that by providing them with interesting reading material, and continually trying to engage them in meaningful reading activities, it might be possible to ignite a spark somewhere in their hearts that will lead to a love of books.
Hopefully, tomorrow A will be back to her usual sunny self, and I will be able to snap out of this mopey mood. I certainly hope so.