07 December 2007

Respect for Children

One of the reasons - one amongst millions we have chosen not to institutionally educate our children, is because of the ability the "system" has to make your children into a number, part of the pack, a face in the crowd. I remember being traumatized in middle school because my pants split all the way down the seam and the teacher would not let me call my mom - in fact she told me to return to my seat. I have seen other kids wet their pants because they were denied a bathroom break, or told they didn't need a drink of water. When you discuss these things with certain people you get the attitude that these kinds of things prepare children for the "real world". I don't know about you, but as an adult, nobody prevents me from using the restroom when I need to, or getting a drink if I'm thirsty. Aside from wanting our children home with us so that we could be their primary influence, and as parents have the opportunity to guide their hearts towards the Lord, we never wanted them to have to endure the humiliation that can be heaped on children who are not thought of as individuals with thoughts, wants, dreams and real physical needs.

Too late.....
I wasn't going to blog about this, but I think I have to since blogging is therapy. I am working on forgiving which was another reason for the hesitancy, feeling that this story will enrage others, and thus fuel the anger, instead of the aiding my quest towards letting go of what could grow into a very large resentment.

My son was sent out of his PE class at co-op the other day. I was surprised to find him sitting in the office when I went into a back office to print off the Mom's Notes newsletter that is one of my duties. He followed me and said, "Mom, I got sent out of PE." I said, "Why?" He said, "Mom, I don't know."
As a mom, I'm thinking that something is missing to this story, but I know my son. I know what he is capable of, and yet, I have also known adults to be unfair, unkind and even *gasp* wrong. I started asking what he was doing. His class was doing some sort of aerobic work out which is very cardiovascular. He said that he started to feel that his chest was tight, so he went to the side and sat out. I asked him if he was disturbing the class, he said no. I asked him if he was doing something the teacher asked him not to do, he said no. About a dozen more questions of everything I could think of that he might have possibly done to deserve the most serious disciplinary action we can take at the co-op - and all answers "no".
Let's back up a bit and clarify that he is severely asthmatic. He was sick the previous week with a cold, getting up in the middle of the night for breathing treatments, and taking his inhaler frequently through the day. The PE coach was informed about this at the beginning of the year, and seemed very agreeable and on board with letting him stop whenever he needed to. I explained to her then that we let HIM say when HE needs a break - we don't qualify it because he is really the only one who knows his body.
Fast forward to this day, I tried to find the coach to discuss this with her. I even called her at home and on her cell phone that evening, and could not reach her. This was Monday, and finally on Wednesday morning, I was able to get in touch with her. Our conversation started with her saying this, "I think we have a spiritual issue here."
I took a deep breath. I hate it when people over-spiritualize everything. We are spiritual beings, and everything we do is spiritual - but there seems to be this hocus-pocus mystical thing that goes on where people weigh and judge one another in this realm. Ugh.
I let her speak. I listened.
My summation of what she said is that she thinks my son uses his asthma to sit out when he doesn't want to do something. I asked if he disturbs the class. No. I asked if he disobeys something when she specifically asks him to do something. No. I asked if he is disrespectful to her. No.
She said on the day in question that he had gone to the side and sat out, and then laid down on the floor. I asked her if she asked him to sit up. She said no, she didn't have time to stop and do that. What she did have time to do was walk over to him and tell him to "get up and go to the office" - and he said she was angry.
She said he sits out when they do something hard - but participates in the things that are fun. I asked her what the hard things were. Aerobics or heavy work-outs. I explained that asthma, being a respiratory illness would respond more severely to these types of things and make his refraining more legitimate - not that I think on any planet near or far, I need to prove this to her.
She said that this has been bothering her all year, and yet she has not said one word to me or Kullen. She hasn't ever said that she thinks he gives up too easy or that he could try harder.
In any case, I am thankful that she did not push him to continue the activity. However, I am very concerned that she feels it is her place to evaluate whether he is having a legitimate issue with his asthma or not.
The coach is a first year homeschool mom. She doesn't really "get" homeschooling yet. She told me she has been very frustrated and feels that homeschooled kids all think they can do what they want, whenever they want, and that they will be ill-prepared for the real world. Again, I refer you to the first paragraph here - where I ask you what bodily functions would be denied, or told we were using chronic illnesses to "get our way", or were forced for that matter to participate in an athletic activity we did not choose. What is "real world" about that?
Anyway - I have talked to the appropriate people, and have a little peace that they are keeping an eye on the situation. But in my heart, I am so frustrated that people get away with treating children in a way we would never treat another adult. I am furious that my son was discriminated against because of an illness, and that someone would think it is their place to assess his "spiritual condition". I am humiliated for him that he was sent without his shoes to sit in an office when I deal with other kids in class throughout the day who are displaying willful disobedience who are at least given a warning. He was sent out without a clue as to what he was doing wrong, and taunted as we went to our car by an obnoxious boy in his class. I feel a bit helpless that as important as this was to me that we were not able to protect him from this kind of situation.
I need to get past this. I know I need to forgive. Any thoughts or suggestions on how I do this? If the same thing had been done to me, I'd be over it already, but do it to my child and we have a different dimension of anger, frustration, and resentment to deal with - the Mama Bear kind.

10 comments:

  1. THANK YOU!!! IT WORKED!! You are a DEAR!!!

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  2. Have you ever tried skipping too many songs in the stand alone player? It says "You're going to have to listen to SOME of them!" and then the button says "whatever"
    Hilarious!
    Yeah, I'm a sucker for Jewel for some reason. Maybe it's her crooked tooth! LOL

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  3. I'm so sorry this happened to Kullen! It isn't nice. And since I have exhertion triggered asthma myself, I totally understand sitting it out!! The only suggestion I have for you is one that I use often in trying to forgive someone I'm struggling to 'love'. You could try and be her secret angel for a couple of weeks. Yes! I was serious! My thought about this that I can't be dwelling on how upset I am by that person if I'm spending the day trying to find a way to bless them secretly each day!! By the end of the time (and I never do tell them it was me!) I usually find that my attitude isn't the only one that changes!! I'll be praying for you. (((HUGS)))

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  4. I'm not a good example, 'cause I'm sortof radical when it comes to adults exerting authority over my kids improperly.

    I had an adult exert authority over my daughter while I was STANDING there and I called her on the carpet. I know my daughter, she didn't...but our society does devalue kids and tries to take away parental rights.

    that gets me FIRED up.

    I liked your above commenters suggestion. It's more substantial than just praying for her.

    Think back to when you were new to homsechooling. Not a pretty thought, huh? I don't like what I remember about myself.

    "Grace, grace God's grace. Grace that will pardon and cleanse within."

    sing that song. Extend grace. Man, it's hard. Believe me. But it'll free you up to just see her in a whole new light.

    She's most likely unsure of teaching a large group of kids and is having to work through her own ideas on education/teaching/learning. We all were there, and struggled with legalism of many kinds.

    grace my friend. Gotta give it. :)

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  5. i agree with Emily. The woman is probably insecure about teaching the class and felt threatened by him not participating. Hopefully in the future she will not take it so personally. I would remind myself of her shortcomings- we all have them. You handled it well with whoever you needed too, Kullen knows that you understood. It is good for him to see how these kind of situations can be resolved. As you pointed out, it will happen to our kids, whether they homeschool or not.

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  6. Sorry you and Kullen had such a bad experience. I think Kullen will get over it faster than you will. When someone hurts me I usually get over it pretty quickly. But when someone is mean to my kids I harbor very bad feelings long after they have gotten over it. Grrr !
    A long time ago Alexandra was invited to a party and she could not go. Later we found out that out of all the kids who had been invited only one had come and I just felt so terrible and hurt for the child whose birthday it was. Her Mom said that God allowed it to happen for a reason, and that has stayed with me throughout the years, especially in times of my children being hurt or disappointed.
    Hope your blog therapy works and you are able to forgive and forget and work things out with this coach.

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  7. Gosh, that Emily....she's a smart one! She's got the right answer.

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  8. I'm sorry this happened. I'm also sorry that I don't have any words of advice. It seems there are people in the world that thrive on telling others what to do. I have faced some of that on a personal level the past few weeks. I have just tried to not take it personally. It's hard, I know, especially when they stab you in the heart. I like Emily's advice too. Lots of grace is needed all around. We don't always know what the other person may be going through.

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  9. Cyberspace irks me sometimes, I left you a comment and it's not here, I also left one on Lesa's blog and it's not there. Sheesh

    I said something to the effect of how you know what I think about adults lording authority over children and that Kullen is blessed to have you in his corner.

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  10. We face this often with our daughter who is 3. We belong to a co-op of all sorts of homeschoolers and many don't understand unschooling (that for us it begins at birth) or how we parent. We are kind of the odd ducks out but often I think we are shining a light for them, with our joy, extending our grace and helping them while they help us fins a community.

    Still, what an awful thing for you all.

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Awaiting your words......
♥ Juls ♥