Now, this, I do not think, is a case of me being lucky. I have had my share of evil and/or ignorant teachers in my own school experiences. And, in terms of being a mom or a mom-substitute, (grandma) I have met a lot of teachers and a lot of school administrators on every single level. I have met teachers that would go so far out of the way to advocate for my child that they should be nominated for sainthood. I have had teachers with whom I have developed social relationships of long-standing because of classroom interaction with respect and knowledge involved that transferred over into friendship. (Yeah, Obviously not a creative writing teacher, eh?)
On the other hand, in the case of a particular special needs child of mine, I have had an entire high school faculty band together and tell me things about the education of my child that were actual lies. They played on my naivete and did a disservice to my child — and anyone who ever interacted with her — that has had, and will continue to have, life long impact. They did this because it was a particular time in history when laws were being changed and their reputation as an excellent, very large, very well-respected school was on the line because they were unprepared to cope with our needs. We were cheated out of services and training and opportunities that should have been given to us, and, after the fact, when I found out about it, there was nothing that could be done to change it.
But that is really a small, not very small, but small part of the story. There is a big deal going on in the “blogosphere” that is called “mommy blogging”. Most of the mommy bloggers have sponsors that will pay them to blog about products or pay them to allow ads for products and services on their blog sites. They have conventions that the sponsors pay for and it seems to be a glorious thing, overall. For the blogger and for the sponsoring enterprise.
Long ago, when I was new to the blog world, I actually had ads on my site. I was amazed that, if I talked about my canary, a bunch of ads about bird breeders and equipment and services would show up on my blog. This stuff is old school now. If you have any experience with facebook, you already know that if you send an email, even through yahoo or g-mail, and mention the word “divorce”, six ads from divorce lawyers will show up on your facebook page. I don’t have ads on my blog anymore because I have been banned, (for interesting but inexplicable reasons) so maybe my remarks are tinged with bitterness. But, I am not really a mommy blogger or a humor blogger, or a book blogger. I am genre resistant. This is also a problem with my authorial adventures. I write stuff that cannot be crammed into a genre, and apparently, if you are not listed under a particular genre, you float around the troposphere, unnoticed and under appreciated. (Bitterness, again.)
But. . . I have noticed a common thread on some of these mommy blogs that seems to be getting stronger and stronger. Teacher bashing and school system bashing. And it seems to be a good idea to run with because the blogs that accentuate this subject matter are getting a lot of play. So I want to tell a really sweet story that I have repeated many times — a story I would like everyone to hear and share, and maybe inspire people to write about some nice stuff that teachers and schools can do. Nobody seems too interested in that aspect.
I have had my daughter’s twin girls in my care since they were three. They are now 25, and damnit, it looks like I am stuck with them. But that is another story for another day. They have had some very rough patches in their lives, and, in the years from age one to age three, there are some gaps that are kind of horrifying for me to even think about. But they are now gorgeous young ladies and have some amazing successes. If you knew — well, you just have to take my word for it. I am proud and amazed at what they have become.
They had what is called “selective mutism”. At the time I was living through this I never heard those words. I wish I had. But it is probably another case of being on the cusp of change. Anyway. . .They went to Headstart for two or three years. They never spoke a word. We kept them in the same classroom. Not the same actual room, but together in what ever school they were attending. I did a bit of research and even talked to some older sets of twins about whether it was better to put them in the same room or separate them. So in kindergarten they went to separate classrooms. They never spoke.
In first grade a gym teacher called our house and said she was doing a special project and wanted to ask the kids specific questions about certain aspects of phys. ed and could she talk to them. They each spoke to her on the phone at some length, and when next I saw her, it apparently blew her mind. I am sure to this day that there was no special survey, that it was just the talk of the school about whether or not these girls had voices at all. Then in second grade, still separate classrooms, one of the teachers approached me and said she knew “twin one” could read because she did so well on the tests, but she had to hear her read. The other twin’s teacher seemed to have no problem, probably appreciated a silent six year old, and never brought up the subject.
So I talked to twin one and said, “When you read, hold the book up in front of your face like this, and you won’t see the children and you won’t be nervous.” I don’t remember if I used the word “children” or “nervous” but that was the gist. When it was next her turn to stand at the front of the room and read aloud, she tried this little ploy and read beautifully. When I came to pick them up, the teacher was telling me of the success and we were both crying and hugging each other. I think the only other time I felt that way was when one of the other victims of my parenting attempts received her college degree.
By and large, teachers are amazing people. The personalities and situations they deal with do nothing to promote the actual educating process. They are just things the teacher has to figure out how to deal with in order to get some educating in there. With some of the kids. Some of the time. It wasn’t that long ago when teachers were given great respect and honor. Now all anyone pays attention to is if one might be a molester or a free loader or a marriage wrecker. Okay. I have run into all of them at one time or another, and I choose to remember the really amazing and wonderful things they can accomplish.
Look for that. Stop the bashing, Okay?