“How was your day today?”
I thought I’d take advantage of a long drive across town last night to connect with my daughter; a rare bit of one-on-one time with one of my children. She’s finishing up her final year in middle school and actually really likes to talk to me. Alot. So, it was no surprise that the flood gates open and she barely took a breath for 30 minutes. I was not prepared for what I heard.
I was expecting chatter about who likes who, who isn’t friends anymore, which teacher is piling on the work, and what everyone will be wearing to the spring dance. Cute, innocent little middle-school drama that I could secretly chuckle at and marvel at the irrelevance of it all.
She started with a description of the school’s new “anti-vandalism” policy, which includes a bag search on the way into school. Apparently, the students file into the school and place their bags on tables. The bags are looked through and searched before they can enter the courtyard.
“What are they looking for?”
“I don’t know, Sharpie markers or gum. Everyone knows you test better when you are tasting mint, so I think not allowing gum is a really dumb policy…(on and on for several minutes.)”
“So…back to the markers. You can’t have markers at school?”
“No, because kids draw all over everything.”
Next, she described a girl at school who is a self-proclaimed lesbian and enjoys sharing her recent sexual escapades with anyone who will listen. My daughter tells me that a friend of hers was ‘cup-checked’ by this girl. From what I understand, this means that the self-proclaimed, sexually promiscuos girl grabbed the breast of another girl without consent. To my daughter’s knowledge, this was not reported or noticed or known in any way to school administration because kids just don’t report things like this, I guess.
And last, but not least, was the story of a girl who was suspended for bringing a toy gun to school with the intention of playing a prank on a teacher.
Let me just clarify that this school is not in the “inner city;” it’s not in a poor socio-economic area, and is generally regarded as being one of the “good” schools in town. Nope, it’s right here in middle-class suburbia. What was most striking about this conversation was the manner in which my daughter delivered the information. The information I’ve given was actually secondary to the plot of her story, which I can’t even remember and is too long to repeat if I could remember it. She was not alarmed, surprised, angry, scared, or worried about these things. In fact, she exhibited little emotion about any of it.
I’m alarmed, surprised, angry, scared, and worried. I can’t decide which is worse: the fact that these things are going on in my child’s world, or the fact that she is so accustomed to the situation that she thinks nothing of them. What I do know is that I have a greater respect for her and all of the other children who put up with these indignities just to get an education.
Suddenly her D in math doesn’t seem like such a big deal anymore.