In keeping with my Bad Attitude posting kick I seem to be on, I am going to rant about school today. So sit back and ride along with me. Either you have children going through this, or you have avoided the whole mess, or you're Mr. Holland, who has a whole 'nother list of complaints about education to regale us with this year.
As I proceed to let you know what a pain in the ass elementary school is for parents, keep in mind that I know where I am lucky/strategically successful. Arriving at this school while Jake was in the third grade meant not knowing who were the best teachers, and much like your family moving while you were in the tenth grade and trying to procure a treasured cheerleader spot, I was at a huge disadvantage. But I ended up lucky enough to land in the "good class", the one with the uber-Room Moms. And I have been lucky enough to land every class with them. (Except a brief stint last year when overcrowding pushed Jake to another teacher. He involved himself in some Trouble and was moved back to the number one fourth grade teacher, at her request out of fondness for him.)
This Friday, at 3:00, the class assignments were posted at the school. Jake and I raced over, and found his name on the fifth grade roster. After spotting his name, I furiously searched the rest of the class list, looking for the two last names of the World's Best Room Moms And Their Knowledge of The School's Best Teachers. There they were, and I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing I was absolved of the battle to get Jake relocated. But this year, mere room-placement was not enough. Jake bee-lined over to yet another posted list: Safety Patrol.
Yes, boys and girls, all the hoo-hah of 2006 in this house is the desire to don the outfit of losers of my days. That yellow sash, that pseudo-authority, that honor-roll requiring award: the school has turned it around by putting a year-end trip to DC with it and convincing parents that it will get you in to the college of your choice. No one may be considered popular without this duty, so woe be the child that misses his opportunity to tell the kindergarteners to quit running, for pete's sake.
Jake's teacher last year made sure Jake was on the list. She wrote the requisite letter, reminded administration of his consistency making honor roll, and the citizenship awards she had bequeathed him. So with great confidence he ran up to the list Friday. And when he turned to me with a contorted expression that clearly would spew forth tears any minute, my heart dropped with a thud. We silently walked back to the car, where we discussed what went wrong. All the while I am thinking, my God it's Safety Patrol.
A phone call to last year's teacher netted the news that she wanted me to fight this by God, Jake deserved this honor and it was taken from him by administration's disappointment in his transgression last year. And by now you are dying to know what kicked Jake off the running, aren't you? Well, in a fit of curiosity, a few boys took it upon themselves to use the school computer to search for a girlfriend. Problem is, it was my double-dog-dared son who actually typed in Naked Girls in the google search box. Clearly a desire to look at breasts (and my eight months of milk-laden ones popping out everywhere does not count) denies you the opportunity to monitor the street-crossing ability of first graders.
Jake now is facing embarassment about School Day One (on Wednesday). He is re-ashamed of his transgression. He is dejected, and feeling futile about his achieved success in fourth grade. And I now have to have meetings and fight the system. Holy cow, it's the school year again. And I feel like I have gone back to fifth grade.
Time to get my letter writing skills honed, run by Starbucks for giftcards for thank you's for teachers' help, and to schmooze my son's way (maybe) into the Safety Patrol. This will require challenging the administration's authority in a way that lets them know how much I respect their Early Childhood Education Expertise and dropping off large boxes of Krispy Kreme. And lest you missed my point earlier, I'll repeat it: for God's sake, this is for the Safety Patrol.