Parents' evening at the primary school this week. We have done 14 so far. We know the form, what to expect, what the teachers will and won't tell you about your little darlings. We make our way to school with children in tow to avoid having to get a babysitter, look at the children's work and the displays on the wall and then listen to the teachers telling us what we generally already know to be true. It's a bi-annual ritual that we are happy to go through.
It's not that we are jaded by it but it does have a certain sense of inevitability about it. I remember so clearly the first time we went when our eldest was 5. Of course we wanted to know that she had settled well in to school but we could see for ourselves that she was happy when she went in and happy when she came out. What we, and I suspect all parents, want to know is how bright our child is and where in the class she falls. And of course that is the one piece of information that it is nigh on impossible to extract from a reception teacher at our school.
So we got used to that and learned that as the children progress through the school, more information about their academic achievements is forthcoming but it is always fun to listen to the frustration of the new parents in the playground the next day.
But this year we had to do secondary school parents' evening. This is a whole different kettle of fish. Firstly we had absolutely no control over it. We were entirely dependent on our daughter's efficiency in obtaining us slots with the relevant teachers at time intervals which were achievable. This in itself is quite an achievement for a 12 year old and one that has eluded the sons of a number of my friends. But she did a good job and we got to see most of the important teachers within a reasonable time period.
So, we sat and waited in a variety of crowded venues trying not to overhear what was being said to other parents but somehow failing. Someone had told me that rather than waiting for your time slot and risk missing another, you should just sit down in front of the relevant teacher as soon as they became free. Not very British but it's dog eat dog in the world of parents'evenings at Ilkley Grammar. We got the hang of it pretty quickly. Most of the teachers seemed to know who our daughter was so that was a good start. One just sat and smiled at us and didn't speak. At all. It was most disconcerting. Even our daughter got the giggles. Perhaps it was his way of getting through yet another evening. Or perhaps he wasn't a teacher at all but just someone who wandered in from the street.
Anyway, we now have another one under our belt. Only another 25 to go!