Schools have a lot on their hands, and surely, one of the greatest challenges for teachers and principals is dealing with stressed, over-reaching parents who, like me, can’t see the bigger picture. What ostensibly counts as supportive parenting can sometimes inadvertently disadvantage a child. That mother who volunteers in their daughter’s classroom every single day for years will smart when a teacher finally says: no more. That father of a kindergartner who arrives unfailingly at lunchtime to cut food into bite-sized pieces would do well to listen when a wise official suggests they let their son figure it out like his classmates. Those parents who fight to have their gifted child skip a grade may find themselves being told something similar to what I heard: Bad idea. She is where she needs to be.

A year after the meeting around the conference table, the final school bell sounded and kids poured out to waiting parents. I joined the others in the schoolyard while our children played wildly. When the carefree conversation turned to whose child had been tapped for the Talented and Gifted Program for the following year, I fell silent. I didn’t even know parents had been contacted yet. I certainly hadn’t. Evidently, my 3rd grader had not made the cut. I winced, feeling again the angst of having started her too early. She would have been admitted, she’s capable! I thought.