|This is not my child. It's a stock photo from Morguefile by aron 123|
Here is a rant for your Saturday morning. An honest to goodness rant and a personal one at that. That is what can get written today and so I will write.
I am struggling a bit with the public schools right now. I still have two children there, you see. One of them is a hoop jumper and can adequately do what he needs to do. This is not to say that he is fascinated with the subject matter. He is not, as far as I can tell, interested in any of it at all. He turns in forms and papers and for this he receives As. Someday we hope he will go to college and do this there, and we very much hope that some college decides to pay his way. Our dreams are pinned on this noble goal.
I feel simultaneously proud of this incredible 4.0 and saddened by my memory of a child who read everything he could about volcanoes, about reptiles and knew the color of a giraffe's tongue. I remember a child who just loved to learn. I have not known that child for many years.
The other child lives on the breeze of a whistle, captivated by a thought-provoking hum. He is as clever, but a hoop jumper he is not. He looks at hoops and wonders whether the stripes end at any point. He is reminded of a Mobius Strip, but can't remember the name. He gets As on most everything that he remembers to turn in. And I receive emails telling me that he is not paying attention.
This annoys me.
Why? you may ask. It annoys me because we sat in a room—a gaggle of teachers, a school counselor and an unusual number of parents—we sat there and we talked about how this child cannot pay attention. The reasons for this are both provably medical and provably psychiatric. This child was then given a Section 504 under the Americans with Disabilities Act for these disabilities which he has.
He is not paying attention, she tells me. I have to remind him to focus several times.
To this, I thoughtfully do not reply, "No shit, Sherlock."
I do not point out that some similar observations might be:
This dyslexic child, he cannot spell at all.
This child with ADHD cannot sit still.
This child in a wheelchair cannot walk.
And I am emailing you, parent, she says, so that you may do something about this.
I will get right on that, I reply. I will now attempt to make my child pay attention while he is away from me, having never tried before.
This is the eleventh year now that I have had, on and off, conversations with teachers along these lines, and I am tired. Being a homeschooling parent has made me less sympathetic than I was when I worked five years alongside these good people in the public schools. And I think that is unfortunate. I can't help feeling that I could do a better job of holding my own child accountable and making sure he learned if I didn't have to navigate all these loaded emails. Give him to me, I think to myself. I can educate him. All this collaboration, though, it used to feel a worthy task.
I will say it again. I am tired. I am sick and tired of the politics of school. There seems so little of learning and so much of School. We soldier on.
Sometimes, though, the familiarity of it just gets under my skin.