26 March 2010


I am getting really very tired of dealing with the school system. J had his cell phone taken away as its supposed to be in his locker during school hours. No problem. Whatever. But the principal wanted to keep the cell phone until J showed up for the tutorials he's missed. The tutorials are for when the child doesn't hand in his work on time, J is famous for not actually doing homework. I admit that J manipulated me into picking up his phone (he called me from the school and told me it would only be released to a parent, I was at work and busy so I said I'd get it after work, he didn't say anything about the phone being held hostage to attend tutorial). I get to the school about ten minutes after school was out for the day and told the principal to hand over the phone, please. Instead she wanted to discuss it in her office. Oh goody.

So we sat in her office where I answered her questions without varnish.

We want to hold onto his phone until he shows up for tutorial. Well, I said, it's after school now and J isn't here. He's long gone from the building and there is no way of contacting him to get back here and attend tutorial. No, you cannot keep the phone until tomorrow. I will take it and you can give J yet another in-school suspension for not attending tutorial. He doesn't care what's on his permanent record for school and I've given up trying to make him care.

Why does he hate this school so much?
Because he doesn't like the preppy kids, he hasn't made any friends, he doesn't like any of the options, he has trouble reading so work is frustrating, there are too many rules, he hates any authority with a passion, he doesn't like his time/day mapped out for him, just to name a few.

Trouble reading? She asked, why weren't we told of this?
Oh kill me now. I looked her straight in the eye and told her that upon intake after his expulsion from Other School I explained that he was tested for reading difficulties. He was shown to have problems but no further testing was done. I also asked the assistant principal to look into it while I was on the phone with him discussing J's impending in-school suspension about a month ago, he said it wasn't his department, that a different staff member handles that.

That doesn't sound right, I'll have to talk to AP about that. she said. Why won't he show up for his tutorials?
Oh good lord. Doing my best not to roll my eyes, I said it was because unless you have an officer at the door of his classroom waiting to take him to tutorial by his ear, he won't show up. He's found that it's voluntary and that you can't really do much about it. Besides, at this point he prefers the in-school suspension because you put him in a room where he can sleep all day (and he just brings work that's already done to show them when they ask to see what he's been working on, clever boy). J has never done homework. And I do mean never. And I've already told him that if he fails grade 8 he will repeat the grade.

Oh we don't have kids repeat the grade any more, says the principal. What now? Exactly how are the children expected to go to the next grade if they obviously don't have the knowledge required from the previous grade? I ask, with as little snark as I can manage.

Well, it's been shown in long term studies that failing a grade has a negative effect on the child over their lives. So instead we make sure they have extra support in the next grade to help them get up to speed on everything. The hope is that the child will be more mature and take the opportunity to do better. ...huh. So in a city where J can attend almost any school to avoid the stigma of failing, he can't be failed even if he does absolutely no work. I told the principal at this point not to divulge this information to J. Seriously. If he knows that the consequence of not doing school work or not showing up for school is...nothing...than he will take full advantage of that fact. I went on to tell her that at this point with J and his issues I've lowered my expectations of him. I just want him to attend school, get passing grades, and ultimately get a diploma (so far so good, the skipping has momentarily stopped), not get a girl pregnant (so far so good), and be home before his curfew of 830pm on nights that I work the following day (hasn't been late yet). Anything else is just gravy. Won't do his homework? I don't care, just pass the course. Won't show up for tutorials or detention? Your problem, not mine, I have enough to deal with thank you. I'll take the little wins where I can and after all, he's actually still attending school.

I went on to tell her - again - that J doesn't like any authority at all. He especially hates people that toss their authority around for no reason except to show that they have it. He also seems almost offended that his time is managed for him, he'd rather choose what to do with every minute of his day instead of having the school say what he'll be doing. On a larger scale, he dislikes calendars as they structure his days. He's much more fluid with time than a calendar allows. He also doesn't think much past tomorrow and he never has. It's just in his personality to not give more than a moment's thought to long term goals. Occasionally he'll mention something like having a car later on or living on his own, but he is quickly brought back to the Here And Now and is unable to plan for the future. It's just who he is and it's easier to accept that then try to change him.

Poor principal looked very disappointed that she had a parent in her office that appeared not to care about her son's education. And the thing is, I really do care. I've just altered my expectations based on how J is behaving. I don't expect him to go to post secondary school, but have told him I'll support him if he changes his mind. Whenever he mentions a career like welding I tell him I'll help him to do that however I can. Luckily our school system has an apprenticeship program that might include welding so he can get started on that and leave school with some welding hours under his belt. But that's not until grade 10 at least...and that would be long term planning to J. So for now I bide my time and be grateful that he hasn't dropped out yet. Small wins. That's my life right now.

I did leave with his phone and a new understanding of why J hates the principal so much. She seemed completely mystified at the idea that there are kids like J out there. Seriously, she's a junior high principal, J can't be the first rebellious teen she's encountered, and I can't be the first parent unwilling to assist her in altering my son's attitude. My god, if I could change J's rebellious streak and get him to be more pliant I would have done so by now. As it is it's easier to go with the flow for now.

1 comment:

Chantelle said...

Is he seeing a psychiatrist still? If not, could you ask the school to test him for Oppositional Defiant Disorder or another disorder? Also, does the school have any programs for helping kids read?

Based on what you've written about him (and what I've seen) his behaviour seems to be kind of past the bounds of normal (average) teenage behaviour. Yes, he's got issues reading, and I hope the school helps him with that, but it just seems like there's more going on there.

One other thing that someone suggested was a Big Brother for him - someone who could sort of take him in hand, you know?

Also, have you thought about seeing a therapist/counselor for help in dealing with him?

I love you, seester,