Conferences Bring Stress, But Nachas, Too

Yes, it’s that time of year: School conferences. My children’s conferences are coming up in the next month. Cue the “what are they going to tell me?” thoughts, right? I do feel some impending worry about the event because the kids are out of school on those days. In exchange, I do get to find out what my kids are doing, how they are reaching their goals, and love them even more than I already do.

Let’s talk about the worry first. When conferences are happening, the kids are not in school or their predictable and favorite structured activities. They are home. Yikes. (Insert sarcasm). They might be…wait for it…BORED. Completely and totally bored. They whine about being bored as if their life depended upon it (it doesn’t). As you may have guessed, I cannot stand being bored. Or whining. Of course, I give in and I empathize with their whining about this non-issue. Yet, here I am. I am that mom trying to figure out how to parent super bored kids while I am juggling how to “work from home.”

So, I asked Ha’Mora Google about boredom because being bored might lend itself to internet searching. Although there are exceptions, being bored might be good for you. By engaging in boredom, I open the floodgates for creativity. So, I join my kids’ bored party. I resort to doing things like art or participating in building a fort, because why not? It’s better than being bored. In fact, many people took the time to write out lists of things to do when you are bored with your kids. Here is an example. Another thing I can do while they are occupied with art and fort building is preparing what to ask the teacher. Again, Ha’Mora Google knows all. She led me to a fantastic article from the Global Family Research Project on what questions to ask when I get there. Now I have my list and I am ready.

Oy, wait a minute. I completely forgot! The actual conference day has yet to come. I’m sure you figured out that none of us really have any time to surf the web and be bored when the kids are home, which is why I wrote this article while my kids were at dance class. Like most parents, I have to work and plan my day around the actual conference. I have to make sure I do this around the kids’ nap schedules and/or get out of work with enough time to fight the traffic to get to the incredibly short meeting on time and not be that parent who arrives late, monopolizes the teacher’s limited – and, now delayed – time. And, I hope that I remember to stop at the store on the way to bring the teachers some flowers to brighten up the mood. Keep in mind I must hope that my kids aren’t going to interrupt the conference with “I’m bored,” again, or worse, “I’m hungry.” In these situations, I attempt to remember, if I am not already running late in the morning when I leave for work, to bring lots of snacks. (Mostly, I bring them for me because I get hungry, too). Although I feel like a human picnic basket, at least I know that I can stave off the possible “She started it!” fights for a few minutes. If I can, if I let my stubborn, martyring-self, I will rely heavily on my husband because he’s all-in on this parenting adventure, 100 percent. And in this plan, I keep in mind that my story is not everyone’s story. Not all of my fellow parents have any time or support to do any of this.

All boredom and parenting tsures aside, these minor preparations are well worth it when I reach the 10-minute conference. Each minute is important and valuable because I get to see a slice of my kid’s life from the perspective of another caregiver. They are teaching the skills that I know I take for granted, like spelling and fractions. (Yes, I used fractions when I baked challah the other day and in the sentence above about my husband. Also autocorrect isn’t always right, especially with Hebrew or Yiddish transliteration.) I get to observe the detailed data on about how imaginative my kids are and what they love to do. I hear about their day and who their friends are. I learn about what makes my children sing with love and joy and how they are building their lives to become happy Jewish adults, G-d willing.

All that preparation, which seems so insignificant, is simply much ado about how to connect with another person who wants what all parents want: to share in the same nachas for our kids. I plan to revel in this feeling because there’s so much to do and these moments come and go quickly. In the end, don’t stress about the conferences. You and me, we have this covered. May all our school conferences be filled with all the nachas there is to share.