More Daddy-Daughter dynamics: Thawing the Cold Shoulder (if you can put your finger on it)

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.
Whoa.
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.

One response to “More Daddy-Daughter dynamics: Thawing the Cold Shoulder (if you can put your finger on it)

  1. I tried to put myself in Em’s place, at my age kind of hard to do, but remembered back in 7th grade when one of my friends moms taught in Junior High math. The school solved the problem by simply having him in another teachers class for that subject. It never seemed to be a problem for him since it was hardly ever mentioned by other classmates.

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