It's been a while since I've used my blog as a venting platform. But for my sake, today is going to be one of those days. This is a story I have to get out, get down in writing, and move on. It will destroy me if I dwell on it.
I went to a conference today with Kamden's writing teacher. He received a high A in the class, so I didn't schedule it to discuss grades. Instead, there have been quite a few instances where Kamden's complained about this teacher. She's grabbed his shoulder, yelled at him, refuses to call him by the name Kamden, since it's his middle name...the list goes on and on. Typical student reports about a teacher who is maybe a little older, and not quite as fun as all the others. Kamden's a 5th grade boy. I'm not at all naive enough to believe every story he's told me isn't embellished, or one sided.
He recently told me a story about him making a noise in the hall and the teacher calling him out and asking him "are you mentally disabled?!" "no, you are not. stop making that noise!"
You can imagine my reaction to this story. I'm pretty sure I gasped and left my mouth hanging open.
I decided it was definitely time to step in. First off, I'm usually pro-teacher. I never let Kamden think I'm not on the teacher's side. But I'm also not a fan of teachers who yell at students, teachers who say "shut up" or teachers who belittle students in front of other students.
You can also imagine, I'm DEFINITELY not a fan of teachers who would make a comment like this.
So, today I went in to hear her side of the story. Yep, her side of the story was exactly the same as Kamden's. Exactly. Except she proceeded to tell me he was trying to make a bird noise and it sounded like, you know, he was one of those kids who is mentally disabled.
To say I was shocked is an understatement. My whole body started to shake. My eyes welled up, I could barely talk. Clearly I take this personally, but it is so much more than that. I told her that Kamden had a sister with disabilities. She asked what (not sure why the crap it mattered) Then said, well, I said mentally disabled. Not mentally retarded,so I was politically correct. This woman seriously said this. Looked me right in the eye, and completely missed the point.
I sort of explained where I was coming from, and she said something like, "well I know he's not, so it wasn't like I was making fun of him." Seriously. Still missing the whole entire point!
What do you do? I usually think on my feet pretty well, but today I completely shut down. She's older. She's almost ready to retire. She's upset with the district. She's unhappy with the direction things are going. She's not adapting to the changes well. She's completely ignorant. Could I have changed her thinking?
My guess is probably not. But I'd like to think my reaction maybe will make her think before she speaks next time. Probably not though.
The heart wrenching thing is this: Kendall will be going to that school. If they haven't changed their perceptions by then, we are in big, big trouble. Kids are led by example. Some days I think Kendall really is changing people. She's changed our family and friends for the better.
It makes my brain crazy to think that people say things like this. People may even say things like this behind our back. But to say it openly in front of a whole group of kids, and then defend what you said...makes me realize this battle hasn't even begun.
I wish I was the type of person who could look the other way and not worry about it. But I can't. That's not in my genetic make up!
The R word battle is exhausting. Fighting and defending people who don't always have the means to defend themselves has been laid on my heart. Not by choice. But it has. I can't turn my back on that. I've wanted to, but I can't. I owe it to my children to keep fighting, right? Whatever.
2 weeks ago