Thursday, February 22, 2007

Stardom Week - Part 6

This is Part Six of a Nine Part Series

"Did your friends like the Strega Nona story ?" I asked as brightly as I could manage. "I did not get a chance to share my book today. It is still lying in my cubby" J replied sadly. "Did Mrs H tell you why you could not share you book ?" I asked trying to stay calm in the face of the rising tidal wave of anger and indignation.

"No" she said. "Did she see my note ?" I asked. "Yes. She sent a note back for you" J replied. I had to stop myself from thinking aloud "What a perfectly passive-aggressive bitch !" I told J that I was sorry about how her Stardom week was turning out and that Mommy would do whatever it took to make it right. I would be meeting with Mrs H to talk about it."Okay, Mommy" she said wanly. It hurt me that she did not sound hopeful. I am more used to being viewed as Supermom who can make the impossible happen effortlessly. J was not so sure.

My friends got notified on the latest on J's week soon after I got off the phone with her. There was more incredulity and anger in how this news was received. All of this negativity was not helping me in any way. I wanted to hear one voice of reason to act as counterpoint to my emotional meltdown. By now I was feeling physically ill from being stressed over this situation for three days in a row.

I wanted someone to tell me that I was making a huge big deal over nothing. Were these people really my friends I wondered ? Why did no one contradict me ? Why did they all assume the same thing ? Had they always agreed with my views I would not have been surprised but here was a group that most often told me the error of my ways and did not hesitate to point out that I was exercising my right to be a moron.

What was wrong with them now ? Was it politically incorrect to not lend credence to a minority's sense of being discriminated against however flimsy their grounds ? Would these people with their own kind talk about me as this frantic Indian woman who has a chip on her shoulder and a supersensitive racism radar that picks up things that don't even exist ? And yet they would not tell me as such to my face ?

I wondered about the folks who were minorities themselves. From what I have seen of them, they don't come across as being paranoid about discrimination. They have been in this country long enough to have assimilated, to feel like they are part of the fabric and not a late transplant trying to fit in like a piece of patchwork that blends with the theme but is still completely different. What was I missing here ?

I had been given a 4:00 p.m appointment to meet Mrs H the next day. The worst was far from over I realized when I read the note that she had written in response to mine :

Dear Ms (My Last Name)

I was very surprised to get your letter concerning J's project. She had a chance to talk about it on Monday and then in more detail on Tuesday. The class was very appreciative of it and we asked her questions about the pictures of her family members , the religious ceremony and the places she has lived in. I am not sure what she has communicated to you. I would suggest that you ask her about it once again to understand what really happened.

Sincerely,
Mrs H.

For the first time since the beginning of school year Mrs H had addressed me as Ms (My Last Name) instead of her habitual Mrs (J's Last Name) despite knowing I am divorced. I always took the trouble of writing my full name and she always ignored it. I found it very offensive but let it pass thinking it may just be a married woman trying to tell me that I had lost out from turning single. She seemed to take pleasure in reminding me that I was married once.

Insecurity leads people to act weirdly and as long as that does not affect my helpless child, I don't let it bother me. In some ways I found it amusing how she chose to refer to me as Mrs (J's Last Name) when in fact I had never used that nomenclature even when I was married. My ex would have doubtless been pleased to see how hard it was being for me to disjoin my identity from his so many years after the effect.

In not so many words, Mrs. H was telling me that my child had willfully lied to me and this was not something I was even remotely prepared for. I had a sinking feeling overcome me as I read and re-read her note to make sure I had understood what she was saying correctly.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow..putting the blame on J for portraying a not-so-true picture of the events.. that sure came from the left field. It must have been a delicate line to tread..making sure you got the facts out of J without overwhelming her.

Regarding, addressing you with your last name... ahh.. she knew the battle lines were drawn and she took care to be politically correct..i guess. Just hope J's life in school hasn't been affected by all this.

Sharda

kintheatl said...

I'm anxious to see how this all turns out.

I had a similar experience with my youngest daughter last year (she was a freshman in high school). She came home and told me one story and when I called to speak to someone at the school, I got the head of the department SPEAKING for the teacher and telling me that I had misunderstood what had happened. I point blank asked her why a straight A gifted student who never missed a day of school or had any problems would make up a story like that. Again, I was told that we both misunderstood. At that point, it was clear to me that there is some sort of code of ethics among educators where they stand up for their own regardless (I suppose something blatant like sexual harassment might get noticed, however).

I had her switch out of that class, however because the damage had been done and I was standing behind my daughter and her story.

I do believe that teachers can be very unfair and discriminating towards some students...and it doesn't necessariy have to do with the color of someone's skin. It could be personality clashes that cause a teacher to slight certain students. My youngest is very assertive and we have found that non-gifted teachers do not really like her because she is always questioning them and some teachers do not like that and they make their dislike of the child very obvious in class which is unfortunate.

Anonymous said...

The angst a mother goes through when they perceive their child being wrongly treated was brought out beautifully and echoed some of the emotions that I go through as a mother of two children. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds...

Jyoti

Heartcrossings said...

Sharda - I agree about the political correctness of using my real last name. I was amused that it took war to get there :)

kintheatl - So J's story is hardly unique ! I guess teachers who feel intimidated by a smart kid might discriminate against them.

Jyoti - Thanks for stopping by ! I realized that being objective when you feel your child has been victimized is quite impossible