But no one called on me.
Have you as a parent ever questioned your kids’ school or a teacher’s decision when it directly affects your child? How do you deal with this? Do you raise the issue with the school, or do you just provide advice to your child on how to circumnavigate difficult situations and hope for the best?
Engaging with the school and voicing your opinion can be a political minefield. The school is never going to admit they acted wrongly for liability reasons, so you will never really feel validated if you indeed decide to speak your truth or your kid’s truth. On the other hand, you are a parent and you want to protect your child and be their champion when needed. You worry if you speak up it could potentially be held against your child when you are not there to witness. So, what do you do? No one wants to be “that parent”, the one admin and the school roll their eyes at when no one is looking, you know what I mean. It is particularly hard as a mother. The phrase “helicopter mom” can come into play, and no one wants that title. It is hard enough being a mother but add the fact that you are a woman as well. The terms “emotional” or “overreactive” can automatically be applied particularly if dealing with a male who is in the leadership position.
Recently I had a situation at my daughter’s school where the decision had to be made to either step in or step back. Let me give you a little bit of perspective on my daughter. She is vivacious, and very outgoing. She has a lot of friends, very social, a leader, loves a good laugh and a chat (unfortunately it can be at the absolute wrong times like the middle of class– but I digress), the type of person people gravitate too. I on the other hand, was a shy anxious kid, a total nerd, books and art were my thing, I could count the number of friends I had on one hand. I once let a teacher call me Judy for an entire school year because I was too timid to tell him my name was Jody! For me as a woman, it has been a long journey to try to train myself to be more assertive, to not always be such a people pleaser because I desperately want to be liked. I rarely ever stand up for myself or defend myself. However, the interesting thing is that when it comes to my children, I find it very easy to become THE MULK (mom hulk) if I feel they are being treated poorly by another adult. Maybe it is because I do not want them to be called Judy for an entire year of their lives?? I think you get my point. This “MULK” reaction is not even just for my children, I get this way feeling when I see other children not being protected or their spirits being broken. My daughter takes after her dad thankfully, though it has been a real learning curve for me to be raising such a natural extrovert when I am so predisposed to be introverted. I love this about my daughter, but sometimes it can be difficult. As my sister puts it, people can try to dull that sparkle she has.
We recently had an issue at my daughter’s school where she was bullied by another teacher (not her own teacher) and completely humiliated in front of her entire class. My husband and I were not impressed to say the least, as this had happened once before with this specific teacher. We remained calm and decided we needed further clarification on why this happened, as we only had the word of our 9 year old and we do know that kids perception of situations can be very different based on their emotions. The teacher in question did not acknowledge us and the school administration did not return our call, it is like they can sniff out disgruntled parents and put up the barb wire fence to keep us away. We did meet with our daughter’s teacher in the end and tried to come to a mutual understanding.
We had stepped into that political minefield, parent vs. administration, where no one at the school wants to take responsibility and claim fault for fear of liability. My husband and I were left questioning whether or not it was worth the effort? Should we have even bothered? More important, will my child suffer because we questioned the institution? I guess time will tell. We have collectively decided though that despite the potential ramifications and the lack of response, we were true to our daughter and were her champions when she needed us. We will be able to sleep okay at night (in our Moodie pajamas lol)