One parent told me in confidence about all her marital problems. I freaked out when she got to the bit about lusting after her colleague who was 20 years younger. Visions of her trying to feel up my son filled my head.
One parent called me at 23:55h wailing on the phone that her daughter was freaking out because the HW deadline was midnight and could I please walk through a particular writing technique with her daughter on the phone? A week later, I sent out an email to parents stating that the HW deadline submission would henceforth be 9pm. Submissions emailed after 9pm would be deleted from my inbox because I did not want to be party to parents keeping their kids up past midnight to do my HW. Kids have 7 days to do HW. Why wait till the 11th hour?
One parent would text me asking me to find and give her the link to such and such a roast chicken, roast pork etc recipe... on my blog. After googling the links for her a few times, I asked her to google them herself.
One parent would call me on Sunday at 9 am, asking whether I had had a look at her son's compo submission. The compo was given to me at 5.30pm the night before. After collecting the compos, I went for dinner. After dinner, I spent time with my family. After that, I went to sleep, only to be called to the phone at breakfast with my family on a Sunday morning by a parent who clearly expected me to have marked her son's compo overnight.
One parent did many things that I told her were detrimental to her child's progression. I spent hours in 2015 patiently counselling her and letting her know that if certain things were not done, her child would NOT be ready for PSLE in 2016. This parent whined so much that 4 months before PSLE, I completely reworked 6 weeks of lesson plans just because her son was the ONLY one in the P6 class who had not mastered the Planning Sheet. Just for her son, other kids had to do exercises that they had already mastered. I received not a word of thanks but since April this year, I received from her a never-ending stream of "feedback for improvement". I gave up. There was no pleasing this parent. She clearly believed that for $280, I was her child's personal governess and it didn't matter that there were other students in the class as long as her kids had special treatment. It didn't matter that I typewrite compo feedback 2 to 3 pages long for her child (that her child failed to internalise, making the exact same mistake over EIGHT weeks of compos). It didn't matter that I marked and returned marked work to her often within 2 working days. All that was not enough, you know. God forbid that I scold her child! In 3 long years, I scolded her child ONCE and it was a long saga that did not end till I gave up trying to please her and suggested that she look for a better tutor. To my greatest surprise, miraculously, all the whining stopped and she agreed to collaborate with me instead of telling me how to do my job.
The good thing is this. I do what I do because I love it. I don't have to do it. I choose to do it. Unlike the poor teachers in MOE, I can and I do put my foot down. Civilised parents who treat me considerately find me warm, loving and generous. I will scour research papers just to problem solve ONE child's emotional or cognitive issue. The pushy and inconsiderate ones find themselves without a tutor. It is that simple.
At this stage of my life, I want to do what I find fun to do. If it ain't fun for me, then I ain't doing it. It so happens that I get a lot of satisfaction from teaching kids how to write. I also love advising parents on motivation or study methods. I also love learning about the different children's problems. Right now, I am jotting down notes systematically from this book, because I have some anxious children to help. It is intellectually rewarding.
To have time to do these things that I love, I have created a system that minimises my admin load, and those parents who expect me to be their secretary, find themselves without a tutor too. Actually, they find themselves without me as their tutor. They can always get someone else who doesn't mind being their secretary. I didn't get a PhD to end up doing admin for parents. They have to decide whether they value me for my ability to teach or if they want a secretary.
I do get amply rewarded by great warmth from parents. There are parents who teach their kids to come directly to me right after class to say, "Thank you, Dr Pet, for teaching me." 2 metre tall fathers (whom I had never seen because they leave the children to their wives) come to the house to specially thank me for making a difference to their families. I even had one father who made a rather large donation to Touch Community Services on my behalf when I declined payment for services rendered beyond my call of duty. I am grateful to these parents for such regard. I have parents who, when leaving me, write, "We learnt so much from you that we could not have learnt anywhere else." You see, many parents read my blogposts from years ago and find them informative. Since then, I have learnt much more but I have not had time to share much of what I have learnt since 2012, on my public blog. I am busy sharing the knowledge with my students' parents, instead.
I had done the same for other parents before, who simply took it and demanded yet more. So parents see 2 different faces of Dr Pet. Some see the warmth and generosity. Others see a stern, cold and brutally honest Dr Pet. I am no different than the servers in restaurants, you know. I never get poor service in restaurants. Even the foodcourt cleaners smile at me. It starts with me. I am nice to them and they treat me nice too.
This Mommy just wrote me last week and she said that she missed me!!
I have a choice. I exercise this choice to make my chosen profession rewarding for me. Unfortunately, MOE teachers often do not have that choice.