Friday, Walter came in from school. I was sitting at the computer instead of waiting for him because my mind was in other places like team meetings, reading reports, doctor's appointments, etc. and a $6 million auditorium, 4 sets of new bleachers, a $76,000 annual budget for activity buses, National Schools of Character who are all about helping their neighbors, and the fact that Alex's school still needs a playground ...and I forgot to watch the time.
He came in and sat at the table with me, just talking. I looked up at my tabs and saw I had an e-mail. Half of my attention on Walter and half of my attention on what some vaguely familiar name from the school has to say, my attention is suddenly 100% on the e-mail. I read... re-read... look directly at Walter, who reads my face easily and sighs. "I know." You know!? what do you know!? Discipline referral!? DETENTION!? What. happened.? No, wait. let me get a pen and paper.
All is going well, story's coming out. sounds like a cross between horseplay and a shoving match. Detention deserved.
#1 and #2 were standing with Walter at the gym doors waiting for the bell. #3 and #4 were behind him. #1 hits Walter in the back of the head, blames #3. Walter hits #3 in the back of the head. #3 acts like he's going to punch Walter, Walter grabs him and pushes him away, #3 falls into the wall. #4 steps in the middle.
Walter, #3, and #4 are called into the office to speak with the new assistant principal who has been on the job for a whole 7 days now. Walter and #3's stories are the same, they talk things are settled. AP then talks privately with #4 who accuses Walter of elbowing #3 in the face. #1 and #2 were not talked to as far as Walter knows.
Walter gets called back in and gets detention. Which is fine if it had been left at that but nooo, this guy who has been the assistant principal for exactly 7 days, and has obviously not even looked at Walter's school records or he would have seen absolutely no disciplinary actions since 4th grade, except a talking to for talking during a test, decides he's going to tell Walter that he "needs to learn to control [his] anger." and he "should be more mature."
The detention is fine. The unwarranted comments are not. After Walter mostly gets over the hurt and embarrassment, he says, "Mom. It's not a big deal." The hell it's not! It's my job to berate him and make him feel like a complete failure as a human being. If anyone is going to crush his self-esteem and make him feel lower than dog poo, it's going to be me. I went through hours of hard labor and poured 13 years worth of my blood, sweat, and tears into raising his bad ass for that privilege. and then this jackhole thinks he's going to come waltzing in and make outrageous accusations, toss out slanderous remarks about my son's personality flaws!? Oh, hell no. That ain't gonna fly.
One thing I learned the other day is that if I'm going to go have a temper tantrum, I better make sure my audience is available to witness it. So I e-mail Walter's principal that we have a serious problem and I would like to make an appointment to talk with him and that new vice principal as early as possible Monday morning. Then I paced and steamed and started my freaking notes. I will NOT be distracted. I have points to make and I will NOT get off topic. I paced and steamed and sat and stewed and took more and more notes, I thought and thought and the more I thought the madder I got.
- Did you talk to #1 or #2?
- Why would you interview #4 and not the others?
- What are the consequences for #1's instigation?
- Did you check Walter's school records before speaking with him?
- ***Medical Records?
- ***Academic Performance/ Teachers' Notes?
- ***Disciplinary History?
- Was he angry when he spoke with you?
- Was he anything less than completely respectful?
- Did he deny his participation or contest culpability? (serious question. if so, we're having another talk on owning your actions)
- Did he attempt to argue or avoid punishment?
- Why did you not call me to notify me of an incident involving my child?
Of course, this man with his friendly, outgoing, everybody-must-love-him self has to bring a bit of reality to the situation, reminding me of my responsibilities and my obligation to at least pretend to be a rational adult by offering to work around his own appointments Monday. I needed the appointment to be Monday so my husband could watch the girl. I needed it to be Monday morning because I have a team meeting Monday afternoon. School meeting kill me. Even one as simple as talking to a principal leaves me in desperate need for isolation to be able to settle down, on the very edges of a migraine, completely unable to focus on anything and overwhelmed by everything. The Goofy One's team meeting is a BIG deal. We have problems with long term repercussions there and I need to be able to pay attention. So, fine. We'll deal with this via e-mail.
My problem... The assistant principal does not know Walter. If you look at his school records; his medical records show that he has ADHD, his academic reports and notes from the teachers are all consistent with ADHD behaviors, his disciplinary record shows that all disciplinary actions were taken on impulsive behavior consistent with ADHD. His disciplinary record also shows only one single action since 4th grade and that was last year for talking during a test. Of all the years my boys have been in this school, neither one of the ones I was responsible for (we are so not talking about Thing1, that would entirely destroy the case I'm making) have shown a tendency toward violent behavior. Walter is not disrespectful or rude. He treats people the way he wants to be treated and he takes being a National School of Character very seriously. He takes pride in who he is and he takes remarks against his character to heart.
When the assistant principal told Walter that he "needs to learn to control [his] anger." and that if he had been in 6th grade he would have let this slide but being in 8th grade, he should be more mature... I find that unacceptable because there is nothing in Walter's record, his demeanor, just nothing that indicates a problem with anger or maturity. There is no excuse for the assistant principal to take one incident and judge who Walter is or to try to tell him that there is something wrong with him on a personal level.
Walter is my son. It is my job, and my job alone, to correct his behavior. If the assistant principal needs to enforce the rules or to decide on discipline, that is fine but he can keep his advice to himself.
The principal assures me that he will mainly be dealing with the 8th grade because the kids know him well and he will definitely be discussing my concerns with the assistant principal.
Talking to my husband about it, he wants to object to the detention because Walter was defending himself. I'm not sure what to think of that. I agree that I would have done a lot worse if someone had hit me and I am glad that Walter finally stood up for himself but I think there is a good lesson here for him. I see an essay involving there being a consequence for every action, weighing the worth against the cost, and the risk of giving in to impulse before finding the facts in Walter's very near future. My husband settles on e-mail for now so I put in all of the addresses he asked for and cc'd myself. We'll see what comes of that.