I have three siblings– two girls, who are identical twins, and a boy who I think is the youngest– all in the 8th grade and all in my classes. I have two of them, one of the girls and the boy, in the same class, and the other girl is in a different group.
They are almost astonishingly different kids. I’ve had siblings before, and twins before, who I had trouble telling apart conceptually more than I did physically, if that makes any sense, because they acted so similarly. There is no way I could mistake any of these kids for one another. Even the twins have such different carriage and body language that unless they were deliberately trying to act like one another or standing perfectly still I can’t imagine ever having any trouble telling them apart.
Of the three, the boy– let’s call him, oh, George, because I need to call him something– is the most challenging. I like the kid, and I think he likes me well enough, but he’s got some problems with focusing that go a bit beyond what my average student is like. Most of the time I can keep him on track, but there are times when no one is going to be able to keep him on track.
One of those happened earlier this week, and his sister suggested I call their mother about it. I had actually just been thinking about that and said that I would, then got distracted by one of the other ten thousand things going on in my classroom. When I turned around, I realized she was on my class phone in the back of the room, and she was waving me over.
Oh you did NOT just call your mother on your own brother. Without permission. No way.
Yup. Sure did. She finishes her conversation and hands me the phone, and I consider making a bigger deal about what she just did than what her brother had been doing, and decide oh, fuck it, this may as well happen and just take it. I tell Mom I had been planning on calling her during my prep, leaving the words “… until your daughter forced the issue” unsaid, and we have a brief and reasonably pleasant conversation and she asks to talk to George. Who, for some reason, is glaring at me.
Dude, I didn’t call your mom. Talk to your sister over there. I normally find “stop snitching” culture deeply obnoxious but she totally just ratted you out and if you choose to take revenge later today once I’m not around you go right the hell ahead.
And then I’m treated to the intensely pleasant experience of watching this kid’s entire face and demeanor change as he takes the phone and has perhaps a two-minute conversation consisting of nothing but the words “Yes, Ma’am” and “No, Ma’am” before handing the phone back to me and being perfectly courteous for the rest of the day.
(Actually, this is one way where all three of the kids are the same. I am more likely to get a “Sir” out of these three than any other kids in the building. It’s not perfectly consistent but it’s a damn sight more frequent than I’m used to.)
So, yeah. Combine this with the parent who I called last week and was in the building eight minutes later to have a brief conference with me and her son, and calling parents can, once in a while, actually be a good thing.