The Final Act of our Halloween trio was, of course, trick or treating. The bonus of living in a large building in New York City is that you can visit lots of homes without ever going outside. We had 37 apartments on our list, which means the kids came back with boatloads of candy. Parent dressing up is highly optional, but this year I was inspired by an old episode of Alias (I’ll let you figure out which one) and thoroughly enjoyed my two days as my punk alter ego. Apparently I wore it well, as several people commented that this look did not seem much of a stretch – a GREAT compliment for a 43 year old mother of two kids. Rarely am I the focus of attention when Maya & Ben are around, for good and obvious reasons. (And Maya & Ben thought I was super cool, which was the best compliment of all.) In all honesty, the outfit is something I would have worn in days past, and still would wear, but the black lipstick and heavy eye makeup, not to mention the electric blue wig, was not ever my thing. Too much maintenance involved in keeping it looking good. (although the wig was surprisingly comfortable and I found I loved wearing it.)
The weekend was a major success, and still the fun doesn’t stop. A quick recap: Fridays’ excitement was due to prepping for Saturdays’ party. Saturday we had friends over for most of the day and then went out to dinner just the 4 of us Saturday night. Today Maya and Ben went to another friends’ house for a second party, followed by trick or treating with still more friends. One of those friends, Maya Sposito, is spending the night tonight. Tomorrow morning we head up to their place (the Spositos) for a Day of the Dead celebration, then to art class and then to the park to play. This schedule is called ‘heaven on earth’ for my Maya. All friends, all the time!
And now, the Tales of Horror. When dropping Maya & Ben off at the party this afternoon, I met my friend Liz, whose daughter Lexi is the one writing the blog I mentioned the other day. (www.livetolearndaretocare.blogspot.com) After the kids went inside, she and I talked for about 30 minutes, having not seen each other in quite a while. I mentioned how, when reading Lexi’s post regarding water (she takes a water bottle to school, usually drinks it at lunch and then is not allowed to refill it for the rest of the day), it triggered memories of some of the arbitrary rules schools tend to hand down. At this, Liz kind of rolled her eyes and said that the water issue was only one of many. Get this: At the school Lexi is attending (called Wagner on the Upper East Side) the kids are given a slip of paper at the beginning of each week. This is their bathroom pass. On it there are three boxes, denoting three available trips to the bathroom. Three. For a whole week! And at the top of the paper it says. “Do not lose this. It will not be replaced.” So if you lose it, no trips to the bathroom for you. When my mouth hit the floor as I thought about only being given 3 trips to the bathroom over the course of 5 days, Liz told me she’d asked them what happens if a kid really has to go – maybe has diarrhea or something. The answer? They get one emergency bathroom trip each year. If they go more than that, points are deducted from their ‘score’, which is somehow accounted into their grades.
Are these kids in school or in prison? I guess that explains why they don’t want Lexi drinking water – too many bathroom breaks! What kind of sense does it make to keep kids under-hydrated so that they won’t need to use the bathroom? And what if they do need to go but have used their precious three trips already? How much do you think they’ll be able to concentrate on what is going on in class if they have to pee? It’s an exercise in setting kids up to fail.
In science class, Lexi had five points deducted from her grade one day because she forgot to bring a green pen. People who forget their green pens obviously should not get a good grade. Since that has so much to do with science. Also, one of their graded ‘projects’ was to decorate the front and back of their folders. This was graded? How? How do you grade decorating a folder? Who determines the difference between an ‘A’ decoration and a ‘C’ decoration? Or did everyone who did it get an ‘A’, and the only way to get a bad grade was to leave it blank? In which case it seems like nothing more than a way to pad the grades.
But here’s the topper. Lexi’s teacher (how I wish I’d asked her name, since she deserves all the credit for this one) got angry at the class one day and yelled, “I don’t care if you all fail. I get paid anyway!” She has tenure, of course. Hey, all you teachers unions out there who got your noses bent out of shape about the notion that complacent or bad teachers should be fired and not given a permanent pass to a paycheck? This kind of statement is where that notion came from. How dare a teacher say such a thing to a class? What is she teaching them by saying it? Certainly not the subject at hand.
These are the kinds of stories that are funny when parodied in movies like “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”. Who can resist laughing at the clueless teacher looking out over the room of kids and saying, “Bueller. Bueller.” over and over. But when it is your kid in a class with a teacher who is apathetic at best; especially when the child is not there for any other reason than that an uncaring court thought it an easy fix to a very complicated situation? When the parody is real? Well, there’s nothing funny about that.