Come, Mommy

Friday, June 16, 2006

Helicopter Parenting

You've probably heard about helicopter parenting in the press. It's a phenomenon in which anxious parents of college kids call professors to discuss grades, roommate problems, and things of that nature. It's not the best for professors or students, at least in my book, since by college age, students should be approaching professors on their own to discuss these issues. It's not a new phenomenon, either; I can remember dealing with parents as a teaching assistant in grad school, and that was ten years ago. However, as of 7:00 AM today, I have a story that absolutely takes the cake.

My phone rang bright and early this morning, and the lady on the other end, let's call her Mrs. Smith, identified herself as the mother of a student who took one of my organic chemistry sections in the summer of 1998. It seems her daughter now wants to apply to medical school, and the C she earned in my class eight years ago is not the grade she needs to be accepted to medical school. In this mother's estimation, the situation needs to be remedied, promptly, by my changing the grade to at least a C+, and preferably a B. Now I'm not one to swear, but I have to admit my first thought is, WTF???

I told her, as politely and coherently as I could at that unseemly hour, that eight years out is past the statute of limitations on grade changes, and also, I don't change grades on parental whim. I only change grades when I've made a mistake in calculations, which is not the case here. And I also pointed out that Student Smith is now something like 26 or 27 years of age, and really should be having this discussion with me herself. Not that the answer would have been different, but sheesh, she's a bit old to have her mother fight these types of battles. At some point, kids have to grow up and ask the hard questions on their own.

Mrs. Smith was not amused. Apparently her daughter is poised to be a future Surgeon General, and I am posing a bit of a problem what with my uncooperative nature and all. So she asked if I knew when the Dean's office opens this morning. I don't, but I told her to try around 9:00 AM. I'm waiting for the Dean to call, because what I want to know is whether his head will explode from the ridiculousness of this request, or whether his guts will burst from the hilarity of the situation.

Also??? If I ever write a post saying that I've had it up to my eyeteeth with toddler tantrums and am planning to return to teaching full-time, will someone please remind me of this story? Please and Thank You!

Now, if you all will excuse me, my son has dumped a quart of soapy water on the dog...

Update: The Dean called me this afternoon. It was fairly anticlimactic, if truth be told. Apparently I'm not the first person to get this sort of request from Mrs. Smith. It seems she has put in similar requests for her daughter's grade elevation with members of the physics and phys ed departments. (Kinda makes me wonder who's really behind the med school idea, the kid or the mom.) At any rate, those requests will not be honored, so at least I've got administration backup on this one. Phew!


  • Wow. If that doesn't just sum up the whole game. Sometimes I feel that since I am not a parent, I don't necessarily have the right to say, "I would NEVER do that!" but, I really, REALLY hope I would NEVER do that! PLEASE tell me that your dean will support you. (Fun blog, BTW!)

    By Blogger Teacher lady, at Friday, June 16, 2006 11:40:00 AM  

  • So, when I go see the eventual Dr. Smith, as a patient, will her Mommy be the nursing assistant? Oh, I so hope I never do anything like that! (But, if I do, you'll change the grade for my kid , right? Ha, ha, ha.)

    By Blogger Jennifer, at Friday, June 16, 2006 4:44:00 PM  

  • Teacher Lady - I was so thinking during this phone call that if I EVER do anything like this in my parenting career I should be committed. Promptly.

    And yes, he will (I updated the story, but basically, he's been spending a decent amount of time recently trying to convince this lady that permanent record means, in fact, Permanent Record.)

    Thanks for stopping by :)

    By Blogger Liesl, at Friday, June 16, 2006 10:24:00 PM  

  • Jennifer, the picture of Mommy as a nursing assistant is really. quite. frightening! Holy heck.

    What are you offering in exchange for a grade change??? I haven't taken a bribe yet, but I haven't heard your offer...hee hee! Maybe sometime when I can't find anything to blog about I'll make a list of bribes I've gotten from students, hhhmmmm. Pre-meds are quite creative when it comes to that sort of thing.

    By Blogger Liesl, at Friday, June 16, 2006 10:31:00 PM  

  • That is the craziest thing! Is the mom also applying for the daughter. Will she be attending the interviews as well? Will the daughter be wearing an earpiece so the mom can whisper what to say in the interview?

    Thank you for being normal!

    By Blogger Nicole, at Wednesday, June 21, 2006 9:56:00 AM  

  • You know, Nicole, I think in this case (and for many pre-meds) it's about Mom wanting a kid to be a doctor, and less about the daughter wanting that career. Sad, but common.

    By Blogger Liesl, at Wednesday, June 21, 2006 9:26:00 PM  

  • My mom played tennis with a woman who would have her son fax his term papers from Princeton to her so she could edit them before he turned them in.


    By Blogger Piece of Work, at Thursday, June 22, 2006 5:31:00 PM  

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