Wednesday, December 09, 2009
The practical and fanciful opinions of M's school collide on a rather frequent basis. One on hand I am appreciative of the opportunity she's having, learning in a rural environment filled with diversity and social sciences based on the broader parts of our world. On the other hand I struggle with what seems to be a much slower pace with big chunks filled up by religion. In this country most of the schools have churches on site and that means Mass. Mass and more mass. If I was her I'd be going batshit but blessedly (pun intended) it's all she knows so far so she seems to manage it okay.
But then the other thing happened. The thing that made my blood boil right off the charts.
M comes home happy, my kid is relentlessly happy, we've been given this enormous gift without fully knowing why but we take it with gratitude, our kid practically no matter the situation she is full of joy. So as we talk about her day it finally winds around and it winds around carefully because my kid, along with being happy she's also pretty smart and she knows what makes her mama freak out. But as we talk it becomes clear, her teacher is smacking kids with a ruler when they don't listen to her. She smacks them with a fucking ruler.
It's called lashing here, it's a practice that is used but I was told that it doesn't happen in her school which is one of the main reasons we chose it. We were told this doesn't happen here. So I find myself starting to go apeshit but I reigned it in, getting the full story mattered the most. So we talk about it more and she tells me that her teacher sometimes smacks kids on their hands when they aren't listening and wait, oh wait good lord almighty you know it yes She's Hit My Kid.
I asked M all kinds of questions, did it hurt (a little) did it make her cry (no) how many times (only once) do other kids cry (no) can you show me how teacher does it (she does and it seems rather benign) but still, what the fuck. What the fuck.
So the next day I go in to talk to this teacher, to tell her unequivocally she is not to touch my kid and to talk to the principal too. To tell them if M is doing something in their minds worthy of being smacked to call me on the phone and I will go there right then and there. But no matter what, Do Not Touch My Kid.
So I go in and I go in calm, I am calm because I feel pretty confident we are all still okay and I walk in the classroom to find out that her teacher is gone, she gone as in not coming back and M has a new teacher starting today. So not knowing this teacher and not having any time to form a relationship (which is a big part of the culture here) I don't have a choice, I have to make it clear. So I tell the teacher and she says we don't do that here and I tell her well yes, some of you apparently do and and I am nice but firm, you don't do that to my kid and she hears me and I can tell she can tell this isn't a discussion point. This is just how it's going to be.
So I think we are good, I think things are going to be fine. I go home and think about it and think some more and talk to a few folks, several of whom don't see lashing as a big thing, they lash their own kids and it's just the way things are done but if they are judging my reaction I can't feel it, I can't feel it because again and at the end of the day we are all mothers here and we need to do what is right for us.
M knows what I did, she knows because we talk about all of it, how upset I was and how this isn't okay with me. She was there when I talked to the teacher, I don't shield her from it because I want her to see her mama standing up for her, that I have her back. She was happy I did it but also somewhat unconcerned, it was clearly a bigger deal to me.
But it makes me think about other stuff, about the way she's being assimilated and whether or not I can live with all the ways it happens. I can't live with all of it in the States and I can't live with all of it here, and the amusing thing that the things I can't live with here are very different than there. It's the stuff you don't think about, the stuff you hope you can turn your head to and assume it'll all turn out okay but to an extent we all know that's bullshit and yet we don't know what else to do but stand up when you have to and keep talking about it. Keep talking about all of it and hope some of it sticks.