Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Last week I said I might not ever go into detail
about why 15 days before the onset of summer
we pulled Lucas out of 1st grade.

And then I saw this
and I (a believer in the Universe talking to me)
knew that I must.

Firstly and most importantly let me say that this is not
an anti-Catholic school rant.

This is a stay informed and advocate for your child
even when standing your ground means becoming Public Enemy #1
at your son's school non-rant.

The thing about being young (we were 21),
and broken up parents,
is that try as we might,
sometimes decision making was tedious.
And heated.

And as I have a history of being an emotional tyrant,
(not anymore...I've been reformed. Mostly.)
I think sometimes Paul (knowing that my intentions are basically good)
has conceded to me just to shut me the hell up.

That is how we
(both products of Catholic school)
decided to continue the tradition with our son.

Originally we settled on my elementary school alma mater.

First day of Kindergarten aka the picture that KILLS me every time.

But we left after 2 years.

We had had some criticisms and concerns
but mostly we left because Lucas' Nana
taught at a school with a bigger, grassier school yard.

So our boy started 1st grade at a new school.

Get in line ladies.

The principal was happy to have us,
the priest was a joy,
and I recognized his new teacher as someone that had taught my brother and I 10 years prior.

All signs pointed to success.

I'd say the grace period ended after Christmas break.

The teacher used a behavior chart rating the kids' days
as green, yellow, and red.
You can guess which was the bad one.

I will preface this by saying that our child is a ball of energy.
He talks a lot (so do I), is impulsive,
and shouts out answers without raising his hand.

He's really smart
(this has been independantly verified...and not just by me)
and must be actively engaged.

We knew these things about him then and we know these things about him now.

We also know what techniques and tools work with and for him,
so when the "red" days started to outnumber the "greens",
and notes were being sent home on the regular,
we met with the teacher on numerous occasions to find a solution.

We told her that Lucas responded best to positive reinforcement
and Paul offered to provide any and all supplies
to re-create the sticker chart he used at home.

She said no.

We asked her not to single him out for his behavior
as it seemed that the kids in his class were turning against him.
Kids were tattling on him for things he hadn't done,
and when he tried to defend himself, he wasn't heard.

I watched her sit him apart from the rest of his class at an awards ceremony.

He started to have physical confrontations with other kids.
Pushing, punching, and shoving.
And I knew in my heart something was wrong.

We went to her time and again requesting that she modify her methods ever so slightly.
That she help Lucas to build a repore with the kids.

Time and again she met our suggestions and requests with a blank stare.
Basically she didn't like our kid and there was nothing we could do to change her mind.

I was a room mom that year and I watched the other kids mistreat him.
He would sit down and they would get up.
Pull books away and not let him see.
Gang up on him on the playground or ignore him completely.

This is how they behaved with me STANDING RIGHT THERE.
I can't imagine what it was like when I wasn't there.

Everything came to a head in late May when Lucas got in a fight at the school's field day.
According to the aide she had come upon Lucas choking one of the boys.


We know our son.
He is not violent.
He had never exhibited that sort of aggression with his little brother or cousin.

When I asked him what had happened, he burst into tears.

"Mom they were laughing and making fun of me and I looked around.
I looked for help.
And no one was there.
No one would help me."

(Typing that makes tears shoot out of my eyes.)

Paul and I decided that I would sit in on the remainder of the school year.
Take a book and sit in the back.

Our reasoning was that it would prohibit any more kid bullying
and also,
Lucas would be more likely to behave
thus limiting his getting in trouble with the teacher.

My truth:
I wanted to watch that g** d*** teacher (and her aide)
and those other g** d*** kids like a hawk.

We showed up that day and met with the principal and the teacher.

The latter was not happy to see us.
Nor was she supportive of our request.
She felt "threatened" and when the principal sided with me
she walked out on her class.

I was not the most popular person that day.

Teachers and parents followed me with sideways glances.
They didn't even bother to whisper their disdain.
Tsk tsks and
Who does she think she is?
followed me as I walked at the end of the 1st grade line.

At the end of the day
the principal asked me not to come back
(poor lady...we shaved about 10 years off of that nun's life).

I said I would be back in the morning.

That night we scoured the internet and parent handbook for our rights
but unfortunately we found that as far as the Archdiocese was concerned,
we didn't really have any.

Each school is their own island
and there were no standard policies on bullying.

We arrived the next day and stated our decision.
Either I be allowed to sit in or we pull Lucas out.

I was allowed to sit in,
 however the teacher refused to come back unless I was gone

At the end of the second day I impulsively cut our losses.

There were 10 days of school left,
and students were allowed 15 absences.

I requested his final transcripts immediately,
scooped up my kid and headed home for good.

Thankfully Paul was understanding when I told him what I'd done,
and that night we told Lucas we'd forgotten to let him know
that summer had already started.

Woohoo!  No more homework! I HATE homework!

He was in swim class by the following Monday.

Someday we'll tell him what really happened.

A year later,
here are the positives:

We found a terrific new school (public)
with fantastic teachers
and a wonderful culture.

And he has flourished.

He still talks too much.

And for the first time in a long time (maybe ever),
Paul and I were (are) on the same team.

Thanks shitty teacher...you ended up being a blessing in disguise.

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