Thursday, April 22, 2010

It's Been Brought'n

So, here's what had me burst into flame like a January christmas tree yesterday:  Thing 2 got detention.  One thing wrong with this is I don't think detention should exist in elementary school.  But maybe that's just me.  If you think it should, then you probably also think children should be tried and sentenced like adults if they commit "adult" crimes.  I don't agree with that either.  Whatever.  Not the point.  This is going to be long so I shouldn't spend your time on unnecessaries.  Anyway...

Thing 2 got detention for not completing his classwork.  This kid has been not completing his classwork since September.  It's why he is currently undergoing testing to determine if he belongs in a zoo.  The not completing classwork was inaugurated with a spectacular show when he boycotted a spelling test.  And I mean boycotted.  I probably shouldn't, but I have always thought that was hilarious. 

I mean, you remember Friday spelling tests, right?  You had your words for the week, the teacher sat on a stool and called them out, we all sat there playing along and wrote them down.  It's just something you did.  Right?  Well, not according to my kid.  He just sat there.  Quietly.  Never moved a muscle.  His paper: blank.  The point on his pencil: (ting!) sharp as a ninja throwing star.  Can you imagine the kind of balls it takes for a 7 year old to buck the system like that?  I was impressed.  His teacher?  Her head fell off.  I could hear it rolling around on the floor when she called me afterward.  It was all I could do to keep from laughing.  But maybe I wasn't so much with the sanity that day either.  I was doing this when she called:

I was neurotically measuring and taping the tile pattern on my living room floor.

So that's where it started.  The spelling test.  Or maybe birth.  But for now we'll go with spelling test because no way am I recapping 8 years here.

In November I was called in for a meeting with his teacher and eleventy-teen members of the school staff and administration to discuss Thing 2's steadfast refusal to play their reindeer games.  I try to explain to the teachers at the beginning of every year how strong willed Thing 2 is.  When he has made his mind up about doing something (or in this case not) nothing will change it.  As a teacher, you have to choose if whatever you are asking him to do is the hill on which you wish to die because he's not going to budge.  Unless you can make him laugh.  And teachers don't have any patience for the sarcastic humor that comes standard around our house.  Anyway, they always think I am exaggerating.  Until he boycotts a spelling test and their heads fall off.  Amateurs. 

So, in this meeting we all came up with strategies and plans.  I vowed to set timers during homework and keep him on task!  His teacher would color code things and up her Zoloft prescription!  We're working together for the good of the child!  Huzzah and stuff!

That didn't really work.  His non-interest in school work has continued steadily ever since. For example, Thing 2 will NOT do those projects that hang on the wall outside the classroom. Why not? "Mom, I don't need to show everybody what a great snowman I can make with cottonballs. I don't want to tell people how I'm going to be an awesome pro-skater when I grow up. That's just bragging."  Huh.  Interesting point. You're driving your teacher rapidly insane but I can appreciate your logic. You should tell her this next time you're supposed to do one of those so I don't get another note sent home. 'Kay?

In March, I met with the eleventy-teen people again.  They were even less pleased this go round.  They have tried EVERYTHING.  Are you trying EVERYTHING?  WE DON'T KNOW WHAT'S WRONG!  (umm...he's bored.  i know you think you're all fun and stuff, but you're weird and boring.  that's what's wrong.  anyway...)  Their solution: test him like a lab rat for 65 days, slap a label on him and be done with it.  'Kay.  Fine.  You people are nuts.  He.  Is.  Bored of you.  And so am I, but whatever.  Call me in June when that's over.  Two weeks before school gets out.  When ALL the kids are good and ready to buckle down and hit the books.  Should be a hoot. 

So here's why I'm mad.  Finally.  Yesterday morning I missed a call from the school at 8:35 am.  I was blow drying my hair.  Fucking sue me.  Checked voicemail at 8:44 am.  It's the Assistant Principal.  And there are TWO messages, one from Monday.  Shit, I didn't even see that.  And they're about detention.  [eyeroll]  Goddamnit, this kid can't win for losing.  I call back.  Fine, detention, whatever, tomorrow, fine, gotta go to work now, kthxbah. *click*

But then I remembered the testing thing.  If you count weekends, yesterday was day 48 of testing. And he was getting detention. For not doing classwork. WHY he's being tested in the first place. While he's still in the middle of being tested. So that makes sense, right?  No?  You think that's, "Quit cryin' or I'll give you something to cry about!" logic?  Me too.  I decide am going to call back later and cancel detention because the whole plan seems super unfair. 

Then I get in the car with Dad to go to work.

Dad: The school called.
Me:  Fuck that school.  Wait, what?  Why did the school call you?  Oh yeah, you're my emergency contact.  But wait, what?  That wasn't an emergency.  Emergency is bloody or broken or fever.  When did they call?
Dad:  This morning.
Me: That doesn't even make sense.  I just talked with her this morning.
Dad:  Well, I'm just glad to know it's nothing serious.  I was worried.
Me: Nope.  All good.

But really, not all good.  That was out of line.  I am definitely cancelling this detention now.

Later Jan Brady calls the office looking for information that totally violates HIPPA laws.  So of course I didn't give it to her.  (You bought that, right?)  Anyway, then says, "I thought it was weird for the school to call us about Thing 2 getting detention for not doing classwork..." 
Me: Wait, WHAT?!  She SAID that?!
Jan Brady: Uh, yeah.  You should listen to the voicemail.
Me: She said that in a VOICEMAIL?!

So I called the voicemail and almost ripped the phone out of the wall when I heard the message.  Total violation of privacy.  Totally out of line.  Not only am I cancelling detention but I am going to that school and killing somebody.

After work I go to the school:

Me: I need to speak with the Principal.
Security Dude: She's not here right now.
Me:  [pause]  I have a problem.
SD:  You can talk with the Assistant Principal.
Me:  The Assistant Principal IS my problem.
SD:  Oh....uh....

So the office said I could call tomorrow for an appointment.  They could tell I was furious.  Probably because I said, "I am furious."  And I got a call from the Principal two hours later.  We talked it out.  She tried to defend her peeps.  I thought I could keep my temper calm but went off like a heat seeking missle on that woman.  Ended up negotiating detention down to 30 minutes instead of an hour.  Meh.  My point had been made but whatevs.  Not enough.  I still needed blood.

Today I showed up for Thing 2 Detention Retrieval Mission.  I was hoping to see the Assistant Principal, once accurately described by Thing 1 as soft spoken, too smiley and therefore, scary as shit.  Sure.  If you're nine.  I am very not nine.  Bring it.  I was NOT dressed in spiffy PTA Mom clothes by the way.  Know why?  FUCK YOU, that's why.  Yeah, I'm in work out clothes and a messy ponytail because I got heavy lifting to do, and guess're it. 

I walked in the office.  The Assistant Principal was there.  She approached me.  At 5'3" I literally towered over this woman's muppet-like self.  Seriously, she looks like a combination of Prairie Dawn and Nancy Reagan.  She's no bigger than 5 feet tall with hairspray and heels and she has dead, doll eyes.

Assistant Principal: We can go into my office and chat if you like.
Me: I'm not sure you're going to like it very much, but fine.
AP (ignorantly cheerful): Follow me.

The office staff ducked collectively like the crowd in a saloon shootout scene from an old western.  A tumbleweed may have rolled past, I forget.  Anyway, we go back to her office.  She actually grabbed a box of tissues and set it on the desk in front of me.  I thought, yeah, you might want to skooch that more toward the middle, lady.  I'm not going to be the one crying after this is over.

We sat and she opened with the apology for the voicemail message.  She understood that was a violation of privacy, blahblahblah.

My turn:   Yes.  Fine.  Thank you.  However.  That is not my only concern.  First of all, no call should have been made to the emergency contact as detention does not constitute an emergency.  Secondly, the timeline of that phone call? You left a message on my cell phone, which I returned approximately 15 minutes later yet in that time frame you managed to leave...that message...with the emergency contact. Completely inappropriate.

Most important is this, I, for the record, object to this ridiculous detention in the first place.  This should never have happened.  Thing 2 is smack in the middle of 65 days of testing to see if a learning disability is the cause of his poor classroom performance.  He should not receive detention for poor classroom performance in the middle of this evaluation.  I understand that you made an announcement last week that students who don't do their classwork will receive detention, however because he is currently being tested for this ongoing problem, he. should be. exempt. from discipline.  Would you also punish a deaf child for not listening?  It could be that he has a chemical imbalance of some kind, we don't know yet, and he gets detention for that?  Completely and totally unethical.

If he gets punished like this one more time before the evaluation is complete, I will write the Superintendent.  And the School Board.  And I will pull Thing 2 out of this school immediately.  I refuse to participate in this utter lack of common sense. 

We were done after that.  I stalked out of the room and couldn't even look at her dumb muppet self any longer.  I might have accidentally slammed the main office door as Thing 2 and I left the building.  I swear it was an accident but if they think it was on purpose then I am perfectly fine with that too.

I feel soooooo much better now.  (And yes, I really did say all that. Well, not SCENE, but you know what I mean.)


diane said...

Somehow, my first attempt to comment appears to have failed, so hopefully I'm not posting twice.
That sucks about Thing 2. The AP was wrong, but you know that. And detention for a 7 year old does seem like an over reaction. Was he carrying a gun? Dealing drugs? Distributing melamine laced fake fruit rollups from China? NO? Then, it seems like the school needs to find a better way to react to him before he gets completely turned off from school.

It's like this boy in my son's class who has been labeled the "problem" child. The few times I have volunteered in my son's class, Sir Problem was not out of control, but you could tell that the teacher has no patience left for him, and just reacts punitively. I find it very sad because its obvious (to me, but what do I know) that the system is failing this child, and one day people will be shrugging and asking where did it all go wrong when he's a drop out.

I hope a solution is found to engage Thing 2 in school. It's frustrating when others don't see how truly wonderful, funny, smart, amazing your child is like you do. And I mean that sincerely. I was amazed that complete strangers did not fall over at how cute my baby was, and I still am amazed that others aren't blown away by him like I am. (Of course, he still leaves me completely frustrated at times, and wondering about his smarts.)

Maria said...

Silver, I would have sooooo freaked if that happened to my kid! The ignorance of school administrators has amazed me for years. How is this a good place for our kids to be....???

I wonder if you could make arrangements to homeschool Thing 2 and even Thing 1 if he wanted to. I have been homeschooling my 16 year old, now in 10th grade since 7th grade - when our local school system decided to phase in the gifted magnet students (my son) in with the rest of the kids. He'd been in gifted classes since Pre-K and this would have been like making him go back 2 grades. Not to mention that these "other" kids had NO interest in anything educational so were disruptive and belligerent. Anyway, my "thing" has been thriving - we go through a distance learning program, I'll give you more details on it if you want - so he has teachers and grades and transcripts, etc. I just make sure he stays on task. Most are online based for high school, but for lower grades you have lesson plans, text books, workbooks - everything you need. Plus you/the kids can do everything on your own schedules.