|Jinny has been very ill and is currently undergoing rehabilitation o she will not be writing her article for awhile. She is making excellent progress and hopes to be able to return to writing her column in the near future... Adele.
The 4 year trek through the inferno has begun. My son, Chuck, has entered high school I spent the entire summer in a state of extreme stress, anticipating this first step onto the trail of tears. Chuck's previous academic experience has been less than stellar, (he hated school from the first day I enrolled him in preschool), and his dislike has shown no signs of abating over the past decade. He insists, with all the passionate persuasion of a Philadelphia lawyer, that his objection to school is not an objection to education in itself, but rather, a philosophical conflict with the methods employed by educational institutions. His argument was so well thought out and intelligent that I was forced to admit that, while he showed no proclivity for academic achievement, he certainly had managed to get educated one way or another. He has all the talent but no desire to perform. Go figure.
I had a taste of what was to come when Chuck graduated from preschool at the age of 4. On graduation day each child was supposed to march solemnly to the front of the school room dressed in a miniature cap and gown and listen to a speech about their glorious futures in the halls of elementary school. Chuck flatly refused to have anything to do with it. I was called in for a consultation with his teachers.
The head of this team was a tall, skinny woman who wore a perpetual pinched expression of disapproval and had a tendency to click her tongue in a 'tsk-tsk' fashion whenever anyone said or did something that did not meet her rigid standards for appropriate attitude or behavior. I suspected that Chuck had caused her no end of 'tsk-tsking' during his preschool career. She coldly informed me that Chuck refused to participate in their graduation exercises and refused to wear or have his picture taken in the traditional cap and gown. I couldn't help thinking that this was preschool and wondering how long they had been around and if they could actually qualify for academic traditions. I asked her if she had asked Chuck why he refused to participate?
“Why is not relevant,” she sniffed. “The rules are the rules and they apply to everyone. He cannot make his own.”
I turned to Chuck, who was sitting next to me with his arms crossed stubbornly across his chest and asked him the salient question myself. My audacity and obvious inappropriate action earned me a lot of 'tsk-tsks' from the teacher. She sounded like a psychotic cricket. Chuck sat up in his chair and looked me directly in the eye.
“This isn't college or even high school. It doesn't even count as school. Dressing up like it is and marching around is stupid. They think it's cute. I don't.”
OK, point taken. He thought it was silly and over the top.
“Plus, it's ridiculous and embarrassing.” Chuck has always had a vocabulary way beyond his years and he has always known how to use it.
Frankly, although I didn't say so, I was entirely sympathetic with his objections. Chuck always responded negatively to any attempt to make him kiddy-cute. As an added bonus in his favor, I didn't like his uptight teacher. She reminded me of the the witch in the Wizard of Oz. I imagined her sitting there in a high-necked black gown and corset looking like every vile movie headmistress or evil orphanage matron ever created by Hollywood. She already had the tight bun on the top of her head.
I reasonably suggested that it might be best if I withdrew Chuck from the graduation exercises. The teacher 'tsk-tsked' a few times and a muscle in her left eye began to twitch alarmingly. “We do not make exceptions or enable defiant behavior,” she snapped. “Chuck needs to understand that he is not special and neither are his opinions.”
Funny, he was special to me. I was now rapidly approaching my thoroughly annoyed zone. I knew this because I took a moment to imagine a platoon of flying monkeys soaring in through the window and carrying her away. I informed her tartly that she was a teacher in a little preschool, not a Don at Oxford, and since her school had only existed for 3 years, she had no right to any traditions, ridiculous or otherwise, and that if Chuck ever made it to Oxford and was called upon to stand on a table and recite lines from Beowulf in a voice like a girl he would no doubt feel compelled to comply because he was at one of the oldest and finest institutions in the world and Byron and Shelley had done it a couple of hundred years earlier. I didn't mention that Shelley got kicked out for bad behavior down the road. I then took Chuck by the hand and we marched out of the school with dignity.
“I think you made her really mad, Mom,” Chuck informed me. “Her face was all red.”
“Forget about her,” I told him. “She's just mad because someone dropped a house on her sister.”
We giggled all the way home.