Hold On, Let Me Just Bang My Head Against The Wall
Yes, it is summer. Yes, I sometimes find myself reclining with a magazine. Yes, I sleep later. Yes, I have watched a Project Runway Marathon…and I don’t feel a bit guilty! I welcome these weeks when I get to shake off the struggles of last year, dream about the amazing things I’m going to do next year and RELAX. For some reason though, there is one problem/irritating situation/load of crap that just won’t die.
You may remember (and if you don’t, please click here and re-read…c’mon, we’ll wait) that last year I had a friend in my class who was extremely lazy. I can take many things…naughty, sneaky, chatty, struggling…but I can’t take lazy. Lazy blows. I worked my behind off just trying to get this kid to engage and like school, to get him to dig in and give things a shot. Seriously, I was like a one-woman show and his personal cheerleader all in one. It took a LOT of energy (and some cursing in my off-time) but, dammit, he started to feel successful and try new things. I know, I am a rockstar.
If that wasn’t draining enough…his mom literally sapped me of all my energy. She was nice, polite and blah blah blah, but she drove me insane with her CONSTANT emails, her rants against administrative decisions about indoor recess (dude, if it’s raining, they’re going to stay inside, end of story), and her unrelenting denial about her son’s academic struggles. Now, I know that it is hard to admit when your child isn’t doing well in school, but you are not helping anyone by making up EXCUSES!!!!
For example, his handwriting was crap. Total crap. Light, shaky, poor letter formation..you name it. He also couldn’t cut on a line to save his life. At times, it looked like he just gnawed at the paper with his teeth (still not totally convinced that that didn’t happen). I told her I suspected that he had weak hand muscles and perhaps she could talk to someone about some excericses to strengthen those muscles. She said it was something to think about and then sent me a three-screen email that night explaining that he would “grow into his hands.” WTF? What does that mean?
And his homework! This mom took “the dog ate it” to new levels. She told me he took several hours to complete homework..homework that should only take 30 minutes. When I implied that perhaps it was because the work was too challenging (Hello! Wake up and smell the struggles!) and suggested that we look at his (lack of) progress, she was quick to say that no, it’s not his fault that his homework takes so long. It was actually her fault…She didn’t undersand it’s purpose and thought it was better for him to have life experiences. I think homework and responsibility is a life experience, but whatever.
Anyhow, I think you get the point. And this post is getting VERY long…but hey, it’s summer, what else do you have to do? (Kidding!!)
So I guess it’s too late to say, “long story short” but this friend was on my radar for the entire year. Mom respectfully disagreed with me the entire year. Which is fine. She is entitled to her opinion (even though it was wrong). At the end of the year, I met with her and laid out the pros and cons about promoting her son. I was very honest with her and tried my best to deflect all of her excuses (which was NOT easy…girlfriend is gifted in the excuse department…it’s almost amazing if it wasn’t so freaking annoying).
The sad part is, in our school system, a parent can dispute a teacher’s decision to hold over a child (I will pause now for you to calm down, because I know you are outraged. It’s OK, I understand.)…only failing “The Test” (and I do not teach a testing grade) can override a parent’s choice. Yes, you heard me right…my voice means relatively little. It feels good, really, to be ignored and discarded like that. And it also makes me feel good about my YEARS of education. I mean, c’mon, ANYONE can teach, so why listen to me? (Um, so you should be picking up on my sarcasm by now…) While I think parents should have a say and be involved, I think it is RIDICULOUS that my PROFESSIONAL opinion means next to nothing. Uniformed parents (and yes, some are very informed, but let’s be real…some are so not) matter more and, clearly, some dark bubbles on a scantron sheet are the gospel. Sweet.
Rant aside, my friend gets promoted. And the year is over. I feel badly about the decision…I worry that I did not do everything I could, that maybe if I had pushed harder…but, it’s done now.
Or so I thought.
Evidently, mom hires The Tutor. Because having someone working with my friend once a week in the summer is going to make up for what I couldn’t do in ten months. Sounds reasonable, right? (Again, you’re sensing the sarcasm here, yes? If not, please…try to keep up.)
The Tutor CALLS ME. IN THE SUMMER. And talks to me for AN HOUR about my friend. She basically reiterates everything I had said all year. She questions my decision to promote said friend.
My initial reaction was, “Um, and who are you?? You are questioning my decision after working with him for two weeks? And you don’t even know the story…oh, no you di-n’t!”
My more rational response was to explain to her the entire situation, making it clear that I don’t think my friend’s mom is ready to accept her sons struggles. The Tutor (a.k.a She With Inflated Sense Of Self) declares that she is going to talk the mom into holding him over. She is going to arrange for him to be held back, even though she doesn’t teach at our school. She knows how to solve the problem and help this little boy.
Good luck, sister. Let me know what happens.