Always Real, Parenting Gone Awry, School

Hell Hath No Fury Like A Mother Who Perceives Her Child Has Been Slighted

Sean’s second school year has come to a close.

Antique Daddy and I attended the closing ceremonies that included a video montage of snapshots of all the kids taken during the school year and set to music. I was surprised at how the video affected me. It evoked in me a stinging, sloppy, messy welling up of tears — tears that seem to have been jerked up out of their sleep from the deep dark underside of my soul. Unfortunately the tears were not for the same reasons as last year or for the sweet and sentimental reason’s that you might imagine.

The one and only reason a parent attends an event like this is to see a picture of their kid up on the big screen. And I am no different. Even though I have sixty spajillion pictures and as many miles of video of my child, I wanted to see Sean on this video. It meant something more to me than what I understood.

As the video started, I straightened my posture, sat on the edge of my seat, trained my eyes on the screen like a Golden Retreiver waiting for a treat and anxiously waited for the image of my precious boy to appear. After three songs and the faces of every other child in the school had flashed before my eyes, I began to feel a bit uncomfortable. I remained hopeful and did not avert my eyes from the screen. Two and three pictures of other children were shown – not that I was counting — okay I was counting – but no Sean. Had he been forgotten? How could that be?

Tears began to sting my eyes. I was fighting the good fight in holding them back. And the more I struggled to hold the tears back, the more I felt a new word must be invented here to describe this feeling. Finally towards the end there was one blurry distant photo of Sean with a look of terror on his face as he stood in the vicinity of Santa. And then the lights came up and everyone applauded. And I bit my lip until it bled.

I felt new word and then I felt silly for feeling that way. Silly. Small. And stupid. And this is only pre-school.

54 thoughts on “Hell Hath No Fury Like A Mother Who Perceives Her Child Has Been Slighted

  1. I had something similar happen when my youngest left her pre-school. Every other child had a myriad of snaps, but my Megan had only a few. The popularity contests start earlier than when we were young. It sucks and it only gets worse.

  2. That is just wrong. I don’t blame you a bit, I’d have been EXACTLY the same way. Actually, I _have_ been exactly the same way…don’t feel alone! Which teacher made up the photo montage? You would think they would be very careful to have exactly the same number of pictures of each kid, especially in preschool. The preschool that you are paying for. It’s. Not. Right.

  3. Oh, I would be bummed too…I’ve had similar emotions when my kid has spent all but 10 minutes on the BENCH during a REC-LEAGUE kids baseball game! But here’s what my mom, a master at putting things into perspective, would say to me: “It doesn’t affect your salvation”.

    Or Sean’s, thankfully!



  4. Oh, Antique Mommy: Steel yourself, it will get worse before it gets better. All the tears and hurt feelings are yet to come. There is nothing as strong as the protectiveness of a mom.

  5. It does hurt. Our yearbook is done by parent volunteers, and it is always the children of these parents who have a plethora of pictures, and it always bummed me out. Thankfully, this year, my little Buddha is in class with 2 of the children of the volunteers, so he is in there a gazillion times. It may not be fair, but at least this time, my kid came out on the winning side. I would mention it to the preschool, and prepare for your feelings to be hurt many more times in the future. No slight or insult to you will ever hurt nearly as bad as one (perceived, intentional, or accidental) to your child.


  6. From one Mama Bear to another, I am so, so sorry. Do or say what you want to me. But. Do. NOT. Mess. With. My. Child.

    Prayers for comfort.

  7. Been there. I know exactly what you are saying…….. doesn’t matter where you live, it happens everywhere.

  8. Oh, it makes me want to put together a video just for you – of nothing but pictures of your sweet boy. Not that I have any pictures of Sean, mind you, but if I did? I would totally make you a video. With pretty music. And Sean in every single frame. Which is exactly where he should be.

  9. Oh I remember that feeling.

    And I remember exactly each and every time my children graduated from a school.

    It is so wonderful reliving moments and memories with you. I love the way you write.

  10. I have a terrible time when I create my slideshows of my daycare kiddos every year for Christmas presents. I have two little girls who are absolutely wonderful and are the least photogenic kids I have ever seen. I take pictures ALL day long and I can’t get ONE with either of their eyes open or not making a silly face.
    I still include pictures of them though. They’re just really bad pictures…

  11. You know what Kelli, I gave the teacher that out. When I delicately brought it up I said I realize it’s probably hard to get a picture of Sean because lately he runs everytime I get the camera out and she said, “No! He always takes a great picure. We’ve got tons of them.” And the end of the year album they gave me attest to that.

  12. How about “smad” for the new word? A combination of “sad” and “mad” because I know exactly how you feel. And do be prepared for it to happen in school over and over and over. Because we know how wonderful and special our kids are, but unfortunately if your kid isn’t one of those “in the teacher’s face” kids, he/she will get overlooked time after time. And you do feel helpless and mad and like you want to tell the teacher off, but sometimes it’s better to just bite your lip and go on. Because if you do tell the teacher off, you will run into the teacher around every corner for years. Take it from me. ha.

  13. I’m sorry 🙁 I would have felt horrible too. Though I probably wouldn’t have been as nice about it lol.

  14. Ouch.

    My mother had a similar experience with my brother – in fact it was almost worse. When he was in Kindergarten, she recieved a list of the names of the kids in his class for Valentine’s Day cards. His name was not on it. She went to the school the next morning to ask why.

    The teacher had NO IDEA that my brother was in her class. Let me say that again – she had NO IDEA. How can a teacher miss an ENTIRE CHILD for FIVE MONTHS? Can you imagine how horrible it was for my brother when he came to class on Valentine’s Day and there was NOTHING for him?

    Oh, yeah. There definitely needs to be a word for that kind of sadness.

  15. Yes, I know exactly the feeling you are talking about, and no, I don’t think we have a word for it. There is a very unique quality to the pain a mother feels when her child has been slighted somehow, or when someone doesn’t recognize the specialness of her child. (And I’m not talking about a puffed up parent who thinks their child is better than others, but the real specialness of every child that too often goes unrecognized by others.)It is heartbreaking, and I don’t think you’re silly for feeling it at all.

  16. I have been there. If it helps any, his teachers probably had nothing to do with the video. When my boys were in preschool, it was the directors who put that together. My precious, extremely photogenic first-born never seemed to make the video.

  17. Sadly, Woman Lost is so right — it does get worse before it gets better. We’re in the middle of baseball season, or as it’s known around here, bench-sitting season. Then, there’s the end of year awards ceremonies — my children have been recognized for various and sundry accomplishments, but I have seen the swallowed tears of the moms that clap for others’ kids. It’s tough all the way around.

    Okay, and Robbin’s deal? That teacher had BETTER be working at McDonald’s now. That is inexcuseable

  18. AM,

    I have yet to find that word you’re looking for. My son, sweet and lovable and, I admit, slightly unfocused and quirky, often gets overlooked because he is not “the perfect student.”

    And I cry for the same reason: that no one else sees the beauty in him because of their preconceived and biased opinions about him… or me.

    Hang tight, AM, and know that you’re not alone in your word search. I’m just sorry to know that you’re in the same boat as me… Let’s rock it, shall we?

  19. There’s just no reason for that at all from a child’s teacher. None at all. ESPECIALLY at the elementary/pre-school level.

    But it isn’t much different as they get older. Case in point: my youngest child is about to graduate from high school. He is in the band. I was in charge of both the senior slideshow and the “what we did this year” show. We asked for pictures (15 – 20)from all the senior parents of their kids from birth til now, and from 22 of the 23 families, we got tons – in some cases WAY more than we needed, but they were all precious, so they all went in. From one girl’s mother we got…ONE, from when she was maybe 8 or 9. One picture of this sweetheart of an 18 year old. I called and tried to get more, Mom wouldn’t return my calls. We scrambled and searched and asked her friends, and finally came up with four that were just of her. I felt AWFUL.

    And then for the year in review show, we sent out email after email asking for pictures wanting to get every kid in there at least once. I mailed letters home at my own expense asking for pictures. I saw parents in Wal-mart and reminded them about pictures. How many parents contributed pictures? Besides me, three. From 130 families. I did the best I could to get as many different kids as possible in there, but some got left out. And some of those parents? Jumped all over me at the band banquet because their kid wasn’t in the show.

    But for a classroom teacher to not include a child in her class in the end of the year show is absolutely unforgivable. She ought to have had a class list and go down and check each child off as she adds them to the show. As a teacher myself, I just cannot fathom that.

  20. How did your son feel about this? Did it bother him? Did he notice he wasn’t in as many as the other kids? I may have been hurt by the lack of photos but I would have been devastated if my son had noticed and felt bad.

  21. As a child development professional of more than 25 years, I have put together many such end-of-year projects and have also supervised teachers putting together the projects. We literally count the number of pictures for each child, making sure the number is even. If it’s not, then we just keep taking pictures. Once, I didn’t supervise the preschool graduation closely enough and watched a program where lots of things were said about some kids onstage and other kids were hardly spoken about at all as they received their diplomas. I felt terrible all year until the next program where I made sure THAT wouldn’t happen again. My point: There was no excuse for that. And I don’t blame you at all for feeling the way you did, whatever it’s called.

  22. Oh, how my heart breaks for you. It is soo soo difficult to see our kids slighted. My daughter is 10 and when one of her friends mistreats her or makes her cry, it almost breaks my heart. I guess part of the reason is because I remember what it was like for me. But I simply cannot fathom what was going through the mind of whomever put that montage together…deplorable. I would feel EXACTLY as you do…and I would be at a loss for the “right word” to explain it too. Hugs to you – from another mom who feels your pain.

  23. Good for you for admitting you felt so ____. It’s not something you probably talked to the other parents about on the way out the door. Hugs to you. (P.S. I’m almost an “antique mommy” myself. I love reading you!)

  24. No way. Not silly. Not stupid. Not small.

    You felt exactly like ANY mother on God’s green earth would have felt and I’m hurt on your behalf. I guarantee I would have had the same reaction.

    It isn’t a little thing. It matters. They’re bonkers.

    Your son is precious and it’s so kind of you to share him with us, on your blog.

  25. I was a teacher before I was a stay-at-home-mom. When we had our graduation ceremonies I always made sure I had the exact same number of pictures of each child.
    I don’t think what happened to Sean is a little thing. I would have been heartbroken.

  26. More importantly, did your child notice or was he concerned? Was it as important to him as it was to you that he be featured?

    Life is not a popularity contest… I have a somewhat different perspective as my children are grown and out on their own. I always stressed that what is most important is what we think of ourselves.

  27. He’s three mizmell, so he was oblivious. For me, I guess I was hoping the video would show a few shots of him happy and playing with the other kids and make me feel better about all the many many days I had to drag him into school kicking and screaming and then peel him off my neck like a leech in the classroom. I was hoping to see that he was in fact doing okay at school and that I could validate my decision to keep him there. Didn’t exactly happen.

  28. Oh, gosh, I can totally imagine. Don’t they realize (and I’m completely serious here) that Sean was more than likely the cutest/smartest/wittiest/most loving child there?

    Last year, my children were in the same yearbook together–1st and 5th grade. My 5th grader, Chad, was in every other photo on every page. It was almost nauseating. Although I’m happy he’s popular, it was bordering on embarrassing how often he appeared.

    Same went for my daughter’s best friend, Emily. Every other photo.

    But my 7yr, old, Erin? I think there was one photo besides her school portrait. And the worst part was that SHE noticed all of this, too.

    Takes a little piece of your heart away, doesn’t it?

  29. It sounds like sloppy work, or worse, favoritism. Did the teacher put it together? I would confront the teacher, otherwise next year, it will be someone else feeling like that! It gives reason to be wondering whether or not they play ‘favorites’ in the classroom too, and that would make me very mad. Always go with your instincts!

    I would still tell her how you feel, and that you would have liked to see more happy pictures of him in the classroom, and maybe ask her if you can see some of the other pictures that she said she has, of him playing with other kids. You can even tell them that you are concerned that you did not see more happy pictures, and that that makes you doubt whether or not he is having a good time there. Give them the benefit of the doubt, but let them know that next time, they should be counting pictures! I used to be a pre-school teacher, and a nanny, and I always made sure to take pictures of all the kids smiling and happy, to show the parents.

  30. Someone wasn’t paying attention to detail. I understand how it can happen though. As the “slide show lady” at our church, I feel a great weight of responsibility to make sure everyone gets in the show. Sometimes it just happens that way but you certainly never intend to slight anyone.
    Try not to take it personally, although I know most of us would. We all love Sean and his Antique parents! We like seeing him growing up in front of our eyes on your blog!

  31. Oh! Haven’t I felt the same way when mine (or worse — only one of the three of mine) does NOT get noticed at the annual trip to VBS, and is all but absent from the parent’s night presentation.

    But, when I’ve gone to the Lord about it and He’s dealt with me from the Word, I’ve had to admit that it was pride at work in me. Yes, it felt like motherly love and protection, but since nobody was actually trying to do my girl any harm, I arrive at the awful conviction that my need for her to be noticed is the dreaded pride of life.

    And as a result, what I see working is a Godly humility in my girls. They aren’t now, nor are they likely to ever be the most popular girls in the room; but the best part is that they are growing into kind and confident young women without it (popularity) because they’re freer to find their worth in the Lord Jesus.

    So, I echo Mizmell’s thoughts, I think. And btw, if Sean really hates school that much, don’t send him. Homeschooling is not as much a “fringe” activity as one who doesn’t do it (yet) might think. Check it out, you might be surprised.

    Enjoy your summer, and take lots of pictures! 😉

  32. Dear AM. Dear Sean. THAT MAKES ME FURIOUS. There’s enough crap and sadness in the world. How could anyone be so careless? So disorganized? So oblivious to what their carelessness and disorganization could do to a budding soul and that soul’s mommy? Isn’t it the privilege of a pre-school teacher to foster curiosity, community, and character? I had a similar sitiuation as a child and my mother recently said she wished she’d spoken up in my defense. I wish she had, too. It’s hard when your home-away-from-home breaks your heart, but it’s worse when your mom opts out of setting the record straight and championing her child. Plus, it might help another child (and mommy) avoid the ______ in the future. Hang in there. And give ’em hell (in your sweet, Southern way, of course).

  33. I agree with everyone else – I would’ve felt the same way.

    I’m sorry you are hurting. It never, ever feels good to be left out of something. I’m sad more attention wasn’t given to the slideshow. I was a teacher before and did many programs like this one. You better believe I had every picture counted out and at least one with each kid doing something happy.

    Hugs to you.

  34. This is exactly why I have refused to do the yearbook at my daughters elementary school for two years now though PTA keeps asking me to do it. Do you have any idea how hard it is to include every child equally? So I won’t even try.

    AM, I am almost 100% sure I know exactly where Sean goes to preschool, and as SJ said, the teachers had nothing to do with it. The directors usually go around getting the extra copies of pictures not used in “Me books” and then shoot a few of their own. They SHOULD take the time to make sure every child is featured fairly. But if it’s like it was when I worked there years ago, they are usually throwing the slide show together at some ugly middle-of-the-night hour the day before the program. I seriously doubt they intentionally left Sean out, as I think I still know most of them. BUT, I also know that unintended or not, nothing excuses this blunder or the way it made you feel. It also doesn’t make the sting any less.

    AND seriously, if you have doubts about the school, and if after an entire year Sean never adjusted to it, I urge you to revaluate sending him there again.(I say this even though I personally loved this particular preschool when we lived there and miss it to this day!) But I have kearned that Mommy intuition is rarely off! There are tons of other programs in your area. Find one that doesn’t send up any red flags on your Mommy radar.

    Since we left your area my son has never been to the preschool at our current church. It was just not a good fit for him. However, he (and I) LOVE the preschool he goes to at a neighboring Baptist church. We have both made so many great friends and connections there. It was hard at first. Some at our church did not understand, but I had to do what I felt was best for my son. He is going to be in Kindergarten next year and I am a bit sad to see the pre-school days end. When Sean’s end, I want you to have warm fuzzy memories of this time. You and he both deserve that! Sorry for the novella!!

  35. Oh, man, that stinks, AM. I agree with the no-pre school folks. But that’s not what you asked, is it?

    Maybe you can console yourself with the idea that folks from around the world see your slideshow of Sean every day and we think he’s a super cutie!

  36. AM –

    That was my first thought! It would have made me wonder whether he had had any fun and whether he played with other kids, etc. I have four total, one just “graduated” MDO and one is thirteen, now I obsess over Middle School, and everything in between.

    It feels like every perceived insult happens to your own four year old self.


  37. Okay, now I’m up to date with what happened. It’s hard to sit back and wonder why your child wasn’t picked or what the teachers were thinking. I’m sorry you had to go through that!!

  38. I’m a little late to comment, but I know that feeling you’re talking about. I’m so sorry. But I think you did the right thing by voicing your concerns.

  39. I would have been PISSED! What the hell! Who was in charge of that video! WHO!

    I know why you cried, because you don’t want to think for one second that your kid is being left out. Of anything, including a stupid video.

    I feel ya. I’m with ya.


  40. Maybe your kid ain’t pre-school slide-show material. Not everybody gets to walk the red carpet ot the Oscars. 🙂

    Just kidding. If you are that worked up about something like this I’m scared to read this blog in a few years.

  41. It’s true for me at least that the idea of rejection for my kids is scarier than rejection for myself. I want them to feel loved and be recognized for the amazing people they are. I never want them to feel left out the way I sometimes did in school. Then again, I learned oh so much from the disappointments in my life and if I shield them from all of that, they’ll grow up to be pretty lame and uncompassionate people.

  42. Antique Mommy – I love you and read your blog every single day…and this post didn’t upset me. The comments sting, though.

    I am in charge of our school’s yearbook. I use my own camera and film and go to the school several times per month to take photographs of students at school. I have a job and do a lot of volunteer work, so it is a struggle for me to get there. I also have a box in the office for collecting photographs to use in the yearbook. I send home notes and put notices in the school paper seeking photos. In the three years that I have done this, 4 parents have contributed photos. FOUR. I spend my time and energy taking photos of children I don’t even know and then I spend even more time and energy putting them together into a book.

    In order for me to be assured every child is represented equally, I would have to make the yearbook my full-time job. Instead, I work on it after my family has gone to bed at night – when I really wish I were sleeping, too.

    When everyone gets all angry and yells that someone like me should be ashamed – and suggests I am the most horrible ogre on the face of the earth – after I have spent so much time in service without any calculable contribution, well, it makes me want to quit.

    I am quite certain no slight was intended in this situation. Most schools have a few parents who do the bulk of the behind-the-scenes volunteer work at the school. Please give them a break. You might even give them a thank you.

  43. Do not be ashamed. I recently went to a little preschool graduation and even though it was not my child, I beamed for the child that I knew.

    I can’t imagine if this child had been left out, intentional or not. It would have broken her mother’s heart much less mine. So I get it.

    But the power of forgivness is a wonderful thing and I’m sure that it was unintentional but does not make it hurt anyless.

    You have your own little show here and I love seeing pictures of your sweet boy. Gives me hope that I might still have one some day.

  44. you just perfectly described the senior slideshow i attended last night. you would have thought my daughters senior class was made up of the 20 popular kids they showed over and over. you would not know there were about 140 kids not shown……our party of four got up and walked out including my daughter. Granted, she didn’t attend school with this group since first grade, but she did for five years and she worked really hard and won five awards……and to see her disappointed face when she was shown only once broke my heart right in half…….
    her boyfriend commented to an adult staff member on the way out that the committee who put the slideshow on should have teacher/staff supervision and not strictly run by the handful of popular kids who tend to make the show all about them…..

  45. I just experienced the very same situation not more than 15 minutes ago. Just got home and am still sobbing. My son is six and he definitely noticed that there were 5 and 6 pictures of everyone except him. Not one picture of him. I am sitting here trying to tell myself that this is not a message from the mothers or whoever put this together. Eeeesh, here comes the insecurity!! My heart is broken and sadly, he is very aware and was angry that his picture was not in the slide show. I kept a stiff upper lip for him but am feeling like some kind of parental pariah at present wondering what I have done since moving here 2 1/2 years ago to deserve such a slap in the face. It makes you feel like no one likes you or your child. I just will never believe that this was an accident–never. I will pray for your broken heart–I feel it too. I think devastation is a good word to describe my feelings.

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