Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Balancing Act

It was a hard afternoon.

I was dropping off some fliers after school when I was asked to stop into the principals office.  Before going in I was told that a mutual friend had already stopped into her office and voiced some concerns.  I felt kind of ill. 

This wasn't completely unexpected.  There have been some ongoing issues at school this month and more than a few people spoke up at the monthly school meeting last week.  The day of the meeting my son had gotten in trouble, so for that-and other reasons- I thought it best to keep my mouth shut, even though I sit on the board.  So here I was instead, having a surprise meeting with the principal.

The meeting lasted for almost two hours.  It started off with pointed questions about my perspective, and of any perspectives other parents may be sharing with me.  My answers were slower and less eloquent than I would have liked- a lot of searching for the right words, a lot of me not wanting to offend while trying to get my point across.  Something I don't always find easy to do when I'm caught off guard, so my answers felt rambling and clumsy.  Made all the more so by me simultaneously trying to keep my toddler entertained with videos on my phone.  I was completely unprepared.

The meeting ended on what sort of felt like a good note, I guess.  Action being taken, more to come, etc.  I left the meeting exhausted though.  Then I had to go to my friend's house to pick up the boy.  Another friend was there too, so I got to sit through another meeting of sorts.  How did everything go?  What was said about this or that?  And then they weighed in on what they thought was good or bad.  When it was time to go the boy was acting up, so I got to have a fight on the way home with him.  We walked in the door arguing- a really nice way to greet the husband- and then we all spent the rest of the evening feeling sort of antagonistic.  And I drank too much wine for a Tuesday in which I had hoped to be more productive, and then I wasn't at all.  yea me.

I went to bed, but couldn't sleep.  The only thing I could think to do was write this all down.  I've started and not finished at least three posts since the beginning of the month- at least one of them a far more important and informative post than this.  But this is the one getting done.  Because I can't fucking sleep.

While trying to sleep, I realized that a big part of my problem tonight is that I felt like I ended the day disappointing everyone on some level.  I am, by nature, a diplomat.  That's not just me talking- I've had that pointed out to me over the years time and again by friends and people I work with.  Usually, it's a pretty good trait to have.  But there are times, like today, when I feel that I'm tactful to a fault.  I'm sure that my friends wanted me to go into the principals office today and not pull any punches, really lay it out there.  Maybe even the principal would have appreciated a little more tough talk from me, who knows?  I will say that I don't think that the first hour of our conversation went as well as our second half.  Is it because I spent too much time trying to carefully phrase my responses?  Quite possibly.  But that's not me.  I'm direct- I wasn't evading questions- but I'm tactful.  And I have a child at the school who is mostly a good kid but does occasionally fuck up and is there for one more year and I can't really afford to burn any bridges.  Especially since I'd like The Girl to go there in a few years too.

Here's the other thing about being diplomatic.  I can almost always see both sides of a situation.  Even when I have a strong opinion about something, I still usually have at least a glimmer of understanding on where the other side is coming from.  This situation has strong feelings on both sides and  today I felt like I was walking on a tightrope, trying to strike a balance between advocating for the parents and maintaining a good relationship with the school.  Also in these situations, I'm happier when we move on from the fighting and start working on solutions.  I'm sure that this is a reaction I developed from having parents who did a lot of fighting before ending their marriage in a nasty divorce.  It's probably also why the second half of today's meeting went better than the first half.  It's exhausting and I came home questioning if this is a position I feel like being in.  Will these issues continue into next year?  Possibly.  Maybe I shouldn't be the one on the tightrope.  Maybe someone with surer footing would be a better choice.

Then maybe I would get more sleep.  But not bloody likely.