Sunday, July 01, 2012

No story is a circle

This week I had to take our car in (recall!). As my back was being assaulted by the massage chair in the waiting room, two women next to me started talking about their kids, who had just graduated. These kids had both had trouble in school, and bad experiences with their teachers. I listened to the moms talk at and over each other as they boasted about how they'd gone to the schools, threatened to get the teachers who had failed their children fired, and that their children were not really dumb (their words), but the teachers were lazy and not doing their jobs. One of them bragged about how she had gone down to the school every year in elementary school and made them pass her kid.

Now, I'm the child of teachers. I went in with my mom every summer and helped her redecorate her classroom. And I have friends who are teachers. I know the incredible heart and sweat they've put into it. So immediately my back went up. But I knew there was nothing I could say to add to this conversation; I also don't have the most public-friendly ideas about intelligence. I've always thought that intellectual capacity is an empirical fact, like height. You have what you have. And, therefore, just like height, it is nothing to be judged on. What is to be judged on, I've always thought, is what you do with it.

So I sat there, back beaten up, judging them. Thinking, maybe you should have done your jobs as parents, and not left the complete education of your kid to these teachers! And you know, it's possible that your kids are not as smart as you think they are.

And then I thought, oh shit.

What if Abbott has trouble in school? I mean, I don't think I will go down to the school every year and force them to pass him, and if I did, I certainly wouldn't brag to complete strangers about it. But what if I saw something in him that his teachers didn't? What would I do?

And with that, I stopped judging those ladies.

Man, having Abbott has really harshed my judging buzz.

1 comment:

Ironmom (Julie) said...

I can almost guarantee you will see things in him that they don't. My mom is a teacher, too, but frankly even she will make snap judgments about kids at the beginning of the year and then hang onto them. Your best bet is to get him over-prepared for kindergarten, bribe or threaten him to be on his best behavior for the first few weeks of school, and hope he gets branded as a "smart, good" kid early on. Then never move, because the teachers talk to each other, and each new teacher will start with the assumption that he's smart and well-behaved and treat him accordingly.

(What, me? Overly cynical about the stupid school system?)