At 8:10pm, Emma arrived at Alex's school for her parents' evening meeting with his teacher, Mrs Jay. Meanwhile, Alex and I trogged through bath-time, pyjama-time and then we settled into a few games of pre-bed-time chess (he has been teaching me 'castling').
By 8:45pm, Emma was back. She entered Alex's bedroom with a half-suppressed smile on her face.
Emma: Well, would you like to hear what Mrs Jay said?
Alex: Let's hear the good stuff.
(There couldn't really be any bad stuff, could there.)
Emma: ...so you're doing well, and she says that you're a pleasure to have in the class.
Alex: Mm. So that's it, then. Good.
Emma: But she also said that she knows that you can do more than you sometimes do.
Alex: What does that mean?
Emma: When you talk to the teacher, she says that you come out with some beautiful words - so she knows that you've got a good vocabulary.
Emma: But sometimes, she says that you seem to just want to write enough to ensure that you don't get into trouble.
Shane: Whoaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Wait there, young hound. You should be showing her how amazing you can be.
Emma: That's right. She says that today when she asked you to develop some of your sentences, you pointed out that you were already ahead of some of the others -
Shane: Did you really?
Alex: Mm, I was*. [* Such an objection would have seemed way off-the-scale when I was that age]
Shane: Nice one, young bud' (holds out side-on fist for chummy fist bump).
Alex: (Fist bumps) (Smiles)
Emma: The point is that it's not about the others, it's about what you're capable of and what you actually do. So let's see you trying to wow Mrs Jay with your writing from now on, eh. Let's see if you can write as well as you can talk.
Alex: Cheese!** [** A juvenile reaction to anything that's especially good, bad, or worthy of note.]
Emma: Mm. But otherwise, it's good to hear that you're doing well. She also said that you've got more depth than a lot of the other boys (Alex frowns) - that means that you've a lot of interests and aren't just totally focused on one thing, or on one group of people - says that you get on with everyone. Also mentioned that other teachers have asked 'who the little boy with the dark hair and the good manners is' - seems that those pleases and thank yous that Daddy keeps going on at you about have been sinking in.
Altogether, this was a pleasing review. I'd been disappointed at not being able to attend (kith and kin unavailable for child-minding). As I listened to Emma's commentary, I began to wonder - do I overestimate the extent to which I impact on the boy's well-being and upbringing. In a self-aggrandising sort of way, I wanted (more) credit for what good qualities were emerging in the boy.
Final chess score:
Alex 2 - 1 Shane (aggregate 3 - 3)