Can someone say therapy?

I’m writing the night before because I told my mom and grandma that I would help make some Polish cookies that I have no idea how to spell, but as you need many hands to make it reasonable to actually bake, I, of course, volunteered.  When I said Tuesday afternoon, I meant like 3pm, after naptime, after blogging time.  When I said Tuesday afternoon, my mom and grandma assumed 1pm or so when the boys were napping at my parents house, so that I would come over for lunch, put the boys down, and hang out with my dad while my mom plays computer games.  Super.

I was going to write a post about the different schools we’re looking at and write the pros and cons.  Then I realized you might not understand the horror that is for me to send my child to a private school, or to the private school I went to.  So I felt I should explain myself.  Just so we get this straight, I feel like I had to go through the fire to become the ceramic piece I am today.  But fire is fire, and it sucks to be in there.

First off, I don’t remember much from grades three to sixth.  I’m sure you’re thinking, “Fae, that was a long time ago.”  Well, by the time I was in high school I couldn’t remember them.  I could remember pre-kindergarten up to third grade with clarity, but I had few memories of those years, which makes me think I blocked it all out.

Fourth grade was the year my best friend of three years left me for the popular group, and I remember my mom pushing me to join.  I remember trying by going through with a dare of kissing a boy.  It just gave them more ammunition to make fun of me.

I got a new best friend, but she left before junior high.  She didn’t even tell me she was leaving.  Everyone else knew but me.  I heard it from my mom who accidently heard it from another mother.  I cried for hours.  When I asked my friend, she shrugged it off and spent the next few months making fun of me like the popular girls.

During this time I had a bully.  Yup.  Do you know how rare it is to have an older female bully?  Girls tease in packs, and usually they don’t keep tormenting a younger girl.  But I was lucky.  Unfortunately so was the girl.  She was the niece of one of the other teachers, so it was always my word against hers.  She always won.

During these years, if I stepped out of line, danced to a different tune, the popular girls would ignore me, setting the example.  After a few days of being alone, I would cave and march to their drum, killing the last friendships I had.  Those friendships were with two boys.  Because they were boys, they weren’t swayed by the female orders, so I was shunned into cutting off my own allies.  I’m not proud of that, but I did go to high school with one of the boys and was able to make amends.

In sixth grade with all the bullying and teasing, I came home crying most days.  My mom went again to the teacher.  I remember the teacher telling me how she was teased as a girl.  As though that was to make me feel better.  As though that was a reason to let the kids do it.  As though that was a justification.  I was also told boys only tease girls they like.  No.  Boys that tease are mean snots who should be taught manners.

I hated my life.  School was hard for me as I struggled to teach myself to learn.  Sports were hard for me as I didn’t have natural talent but tried any ways.  Popularity was elusive because I was poor.  In this vain, I would like to point out that the reason uniforms are good is because they make the playing field equal, disguising the poor kids and the rich kids is BS.  Kids notice shoes, jewelry, hairstyle.  Kids find ways to make some one the loser.

Seventh grade my life changed.  I remember very well.  First off they divided the class of thirty-two into two classes for the harder subjects of math, science, and grammar.  For the other four classes we were one large class.  To divide us, they took out math scores and divided the class in half.  I missed the other class by two points.  My mom was pissed.  She went in charging into the office to ask what kind of moron isn’t up to date on child psychology to do a stupid move like that, making the kids feel stupid, making the math teacher think they were stupid.  The powers to be assured my mom the class was going to be taught the same.  My mom was not satisfied with that answer until she talked to the new teacher, who promised her he would teach them the same.  And the crazy thing was he taught like a college professor, and this right-brained, word-slanted kid GOT IT.  I actually understood math for the first time ever.  I got it enough to actually tutor some other kids.

In the beginning of the school year I was in the bathroom with a friend before a volleyball game.  My bully was there hair spraying her bangs even higher for the game.  When she noticed some dry hairspray clogging the nozzle, she let out an “eww” and wiped it on my friend’s shirt.  She apologized to the girl and said she thought the girl was me.  She started to come closer with the spray bottle.  I pushed her twice at the shoulders, sending her into the paper towel dispenser.  For a second I was amazed that I did that and that the move my father taught me actually worked.  The second wore off as I saw her glare at me.  I grabbed my friend’s hand, dragging her behind me as I ran back to the courts to where the grownups were.  I didn’t want to die.  My bully never bothered me again.

This was the year I gained more teasers.  A boy, who was held back, took special delight on tormenting me about my braces.  But I studied the source, thinking this kid is Ugly.  He was pasty white, overweight, and didn’t brush his braces so there was crud all over them.  Then he was not the brightest penny in the fountain.  My problem was he sat next to me, where he would whisper insults at me during class.

Several months into the year, the girls started shaving their legs, and it scared the crap out of me.  One of the girls showed us a long hideous cut on her leg where, she explained, she tested the razor to see if it was dull.  As an adult, I know better, but as a kid who didn’t know a thing, I was freaked out and disgusted.  It wasn’t long until the boys noticed I wasn’t shaving.  They pounced.  When the girls found out about the boys teasing me, they pounced.  I was miserable.

Then one day a boy, that I had known since I was four years old, handed me a razor and told me to go shave my legs in the bathroom.  I handed it back, patted his cheek and told him to go first.

The teasing intensified.  A few weeks later, he handed the razor to me again.  I just handed it back.  When I got home, I cried and cried.  My mom got the story from me and was on the phone, demanding the principal.

Now that I’m older I realized that if he hadn’t brought the razor to school, no one would have done a thing.  Because he brought it to school, he brought a weapon.  The idiot still had it in his backpack the next day.  But my mom demanded justice.  I had been tormented long enough.  I had to submit a list of my tormentors.  My mom was in the principal’s office for an hour. 

Finally the principal called me in, and after she heard me out, she called in the boys.  The boys, who weren’t part of the razor joke, were warned and forced to give an apology.  No detention.  Though I received detention if I talked in mass.  The other boys were forced to call their mothers, mothers who had known me since I was four or six years old.  THOSE mothers were righteously pissed.  While those boys had to write an apology saying they would never do it again and received detention, their mothers forced them to call me and apologize as well as tell my mother how sorry they were.  I remember one mother telling my mom that her son was stupid with hormones and she didn’t know what got into him, and then the mother threw The Look at the boy, who cowered.

Then it dawned on me.  These were mean boys.  These were mean girls.  Why the heck (because I didn’t cuss when I was a good Catholic school girl) did I want to be their friends?  They could go to hell.  So I went to school not caring.

Oh, and they tried to make me care.  The popular girls gave the order to ignore me.  After the first lunch where no one said a word to me, I starting bringing a book.  For two weeks, no one said a damn word to me.  F- them.  Finally one of the girls disobeyed the order.  As she was new, she was not ruled by the absolute authority.  She was slightly outcasted because she was not just Hispanic, she was Greek and Japaneese.  She was slightly outcasted because it was assumed she had no money, she had a strange name, and no one had seen her father.  It turned out she was the richest kid in my class (not the school, my brother was best friends with the heir to the third richest man in Mexico.  Weird)  because her father was a specialist food taster in Japan, where it turns out they take their marketing and food very seriously.  And this girl spent her summers in Greece with her grandparents.  Um, go figure.  This girl liked me because I made her laugh.  The ice thawed a bit.

My eighth grade year I didn’t care.  My mom had tutored me in algebra because we got a new math teacher mid-year because the old one was fired because all the kids blamed him for their failure though they were the ones not doing their homework.  This new teacher took two days to teach my “slow” class a concept versus the one day the “smart” class did.  In eighth grade I was one of eight kids able to do the algebra that was expected.  I was put in the smart math group. Oh and the best friend who dumped me in fourth grade, well, she was one of those eight, but she declined it so she didn’t look too smart for the popular girls.  I couldn’t care less about my peers.  F- them.  I told my mother if she was going to send me to the Catholic high school with the rest of them, then I would get myself expelled within the first week.  I didn’t know what I would do, but I would do it.  If I couldn’t get expelled, I told her, I would commit suicide then spend anymore school years with those evil kids.  She let me go to public school as long as I stayed in Honors English.  Fine.

While all the other kids that I would join a gang or do drugs or screw a bunch of guys, I only thought nothing can be worse than the hell I just survived.  After the first week, braving the fights only to gain the respect of the kids who tried to fight me and finding my own nitch, I was ok.  Though I did hear some of those kids DID do drugs and DID screw a bunch of guys.

The moral of the story?  Well, first off I know why those boys did what they did at Columbine.  I could have done it too, if I was forced to stay with my tormentors.  The second, the principal that was there when I was a kid is there now.  I didn’t see anything on bullying policy like in the other two schools.  I do know Columbine changed a lot of minds about how to deal with bullies and teasing, but I don’t want my kids to go through what I did.  I don’t know why I was singled out; I just know that I was.  I also know as boys they have a better shot than a girl.  Boys aren’t harassed as much, especially if they play sports, but I don’t want to test the theory. 

So while I try to make up my mind, I can’t seem to shake the ghosts of the past.  I think I would kill the little punk that hurts my kid.

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This is Mama Bird. The eggs are safely in the nest. Over.

Yesterday I went to an open house for the pre-kindergarten at the school I spent ten years attending.  While my brothers, and even I, think it’s a little scary to incarcerate my boys at the same school we went to, but I must say that the education was excellent.  I’m hoping my kids do not repeat the same horrific bullying experiences I had, but they’re boys, so that’ll help tons.  Plus we plan to send them martial arts, so the bullies have one chance before my kids kick butt.

 

As I sat there, with my mom, whose Council of Women decreed she should attend to find out what was happening in their school, I thought about what I could write about as my eyes glazed over from the information overload about how it had been 21 years since they had a pre-kindergarten class and the qualifications they had to meet.  I thought about sharing that information, and then I could watch my numbers plummet.  I thought I could write about how my mom and I kept staring at the young woman sitting two seats down from us who looked terribly like my elementary school best friend (before middle school turned me into a walking pariah) but how she just looked too young.  It turned out it was her, but how amusing can I make my weird staring become?  Then they talked about security, and I thought of Bad Mommy Moments and The World According to Me.

 

Apparently parents are WAY more concerned with safety then when I went to school.  First off, at my Brownie induction, my mom, being the leader, decided to have it at night, so that all the parents would be there.  With the gate open and the ceremony taking place in the first room inside the gate, some guy broke into the office down the hall and stole all the petty cash.  My dad secured the scene like the cop he was, and my mom alerted the priests, called 911, telling the operator she didn’t know if the robber was still in the area.  Minutes later, the children were thrilled to watch the SWAT helicopter search the school grounds and the neighborhood.  Way to go, Mom.

 

Second, my school is two blocks from a mall.  The junior highers would try to ditch and walk over but were always caught.  Though as a big junior high kid, many of us asked our parents to let us go over there for a few hours before they picked us up.  One year, a store or two was robbed by a man with a gun, and he took off into the neighborhood near our school.  Word on the street was that some of the kids saw him running with the gun in view, and we were forced to abandon our lunch hour for the safety of the classrooms.  I put as much stock in the gun rumor as I did about the rumor of two sixth graders having sex in one of the tunnels in the playground.  The kids just kissed.

 

Granted there were two bomb threats when I was an eighth grader, which turned out to be a classmate’s boyfriend calling to get her out of school early.  But then there were several bomb threats at my public high school for the same reason.  (And the time a bunch of the students kickedtheassesofsomeneo-nazikids.)

 

Instead of keeping the gates open, an adult has to be buzzed into the office.  In the office, the adult has to sign in and show id, which is checked against the list of adults allowed to enter the school and take home students.  The adult is given a sticker, which all the kids demand to see.  At the pre-kindergarten, the adult’s id is check again before the child is allowed to leave.  Pretty standard stuff, right?

 

Then the parents asked about child safety and where the bathrooms are.  The parents were assured no child is ever, ever left alone.  I started to think they had added a whole lot more bars than I was a kid.  Where could a kid go?  It’s a tiny school.

 

Then the punch line was thrown in.  Someone wanted to donate a whole security system with cameras, which were being installed this summer throughout the school and church.  Um, what?  There was already two cameras outside the office, so the secretary could see the person to buss them in or not.  My mom and I exchanged looks.  Most parents breathed a sigh of relief.

 

Wouldn’t it just be easier to add a retina scanner?

 

I bit my tongue before I could mention it.  My mom whispered, asking me what I thought.  I smiled.  I think this will make a great post, especially when I mention the guard towers and the SWAT team.  My mom rolled her eyes.

 

I wonder if I could be a guard with a uniform.  I look pretty tough in sunglasses.  Or I could wear a suit like the the Secret Service with a radio ear piece and all!

 

 

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Pre-Kindergarten Outing: Or Did you say you had a plan?

It had been decided for a month or two that since their daughter would stand on their living room couch and cry to watch the neighborhood children go to the school across the street that she would attend a pre-kindergarten the next fall.  So the mother dressed herself in a cute maternity outfit and dressed the daughter in a pink dress and headed to nearest pre-kindergarten to sit in on a class.  The daughter watched in awe, gripping her mother’s hand, as the school children listened to a story and went to their seats for seat work.  The mother introduced herself and her daughter to the teacher.  The teacher smiled and asked the little girl when she would turn four and thus be old enough for the school.  Without hesitation, the daughter looked up and said, “On my next birthday.”

 

 

I rushed around the house trying to find the perfect shirt, the perfect shoes, the perfect necklace, wondering when was the last time I even cared what I wore.  My husband said Evan was dressed and ready to go.  I yelled downstairs that Evan needed to brush his teeth and hair and that his face still had traces of syrup.  Of all the days for the boys to actually allow us to sleep in!  I raced down with a warm washcloth, a wet brush, and toothpasted toothbrush.

 

Me: Evan, what’s your last name?

 

Evan: L-

 

Me: Good job.  How old are you?

 

Evan: Three.

 

Me: Good.  When will you turn four?

 

Evan: (puzzled look)

 

Me: Evan, when is your birthday?

 

Evan: I’m going to have a Mickey Mouse-Kung Fu Panda birthday party, and Grandma is going to make my cake.  She makes the best cakes for me.  But it’s not my birthday.

 

Me: You’re birthday is July 5th.  Can you say July 5th?

 

Evan: July 5th.

 

Me: Good.  Here.  Brush your teeth.  Up and down.  Up and down.  Back and forth.  Back and forth.

 

We rush to the school, making it just in time as I had forgotten how bad traffic was at eight in the morning.  We headed for the office.  Excited my husband and I sit down with Evan in my lap as we waited for the vice principal. 

 

We had discussed this for months.  Evan needs to go to school next year.  He’s too bright.  He needs social interaction.  He needs friends.  He needs to learn to write his name and coloring within the lines.  He needs some sort of structure.  He needs some time away from his mother.

 

We get up and meet the vice principal.  Who asks if Evan will be  . . . five next September.  Excuse me?  Oh, pre-kindergarten is actually for slightly less mature five year olds, but it’s the same thing as kindergarten, falling under the California state curriculum for kindergarten.  Oh, we would love to still see the class.  We are here anyways.  Thank you for the suggestions of pre-schools.  Of course, we understand.  It is a lovely school, and the teacher is a lovely woman who seems thoroughly disappointed that they can’t take four year olds but makes several more suggestions of pre-schools around the county.  But my, he is a bright boy.

 

The class was small just five boys and five girls, counting the days, saying the day of the week, counting by ten to hundred, discussing patterns, talking about the weather, saying the ABC sounds all the way to L, and listening to the gingerbread man story.  It was just as I had imagined.  A small class snuggled in a class room filled with educational toys and activities. 

 

As we left the school, I explained to my husband what the difference between pre-kindergarten and pre-school was in Arizona.  See pre-kindergarten was like a prep-high school; it existed to gear the child up towards kindergarten in the same way a prep-high school gear its students for college.  In the pre-kindergarten, there were more academics then in a pre-school setting.  Sure, there were still lots of fun and games, but the children left the class being able to write the ABCs and read a few words.  I had never heard of a pre-kindergarten that was actually a kindergarten.  But then California’s cut off date is the beginning of December; while Arizona’s is the beginning of September.  It had to make for some immaturity in the early grades.

 

So with a heavy heart I realized that I had only just begun my research for some sort of school for Evan, though I was glad to hear that no one recommended a five day, full day class schedule for four year olds as was the case at my old Catholic school.  Damn, I thought I had everything planned.  Guess it’s back to the old drawing board.

 

Me: So, Evan, did you like the school?

 

Evan: No.

 

Me: (surprised because he was so excited to go) Why?

 

Evan: I don’t like the gingerbread man story.  It’s scary.  No school for me.

 

 

 

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