What am I really supposed to do when we see each other in the hallway or the library or the cafeteria?
The first time this became an issue, I never saw it coming.
I was trying to land a job at my daughter’s charter school. There was nothing too terribly wrong with my current job. I was working in schools, with individual students, observing the educational process with a fly-on-the-wall’s perspective.
Getting back in the classroom took me back to a time earlier in my life, when I worked double-time to earn teaching certification, and helped set up a progressive program and method for teaching struggling youngsters to read.
Anyway, I digress. My point: There was a time when loved working in schools and being an essential cog in the wheel of education.
How I arrived at the opening question: Nine-year-old daughter recently was dishing out the silent treatment (not an unusual occurrence). I usually can sidestep it, but this one had me stumped.
Mom called an impromptu kitchen table gathering, and I got my answer: Young daughter was worried I’d embarrass her on her turf.
I should’ve picked up on the clues. I felt the last cold shoulder after a dance class. Before she went in, I gave her a quick hug — in front of her friends! What could’ve been worse? Sticking my head in through the door to tell her I was leaving, apparently
Mom explained that one to me, too.
Time to get ahead of the game. Should I land the job in her school, we needed to reach an agreement now. I tossed the ball in her court.
Result: Whenever we crossed paths, in the hallway, cafeteria, library, I was to act like I didn’t know her. That’s acceptable. I don’t want to add to the social pressures she already experiences in 4th grade.
A foot (not a shoulder) in the door
After a successful interview, I was invited to audition for a day in her school, shadowing a substitute teacher.
I got there early (of course) and quickly realized I ‘d left my lunch at home. I called and talked to young daughter and asked her to bring it in (she rides the bus). Just leave it at front desk for me — no contact required.
A few minutes after the buzzer sounded, students in my first period class pointed to the door. There stood young daughter — with my lunch and two of her friends!. They were smiling and peering into the room.
That afternoon at the bus stop, I asked why two friends accompanied her (one is common) on the errand. Simple: She wanted to show off for her friends.
The time was ripe to hit her with the -see-you-in-the-hallway question yet again.
If I was hired, would there be any change in protocol?
She relented. I was permitted to greet her, as long as I took fastidious care not to embarrass her. I assured her I could do that — if I got the job, of course.
I did get the job (at least provisionally). Now she’s second-guessing herself — hence the most recent semi-frosty shoulder.
I offered a deal: I would greet her, quietly, if it wasn’t a situation that would generate embarrassment.
We had reached a mutually agreeable, peaceful solution.
It’s probably best if I don’t bring up the cold shoulder waiting around the corner: When my sub assignment for the day is her classroom.
Not a problem. I know that warm fathers easily weather cold shoulders. And someday, we’ll bond even more closely over my shoulder if she needs it to cry upon.