Thursday, August 27, 2009

Soapbox

I try not to judge the way other people parent. Unless, you know, they're really REALLY bad at it. For the most part though, I think that people are doing the best that they can with what they've got to work with. I figure that, as a general rule, you're going to the do everything in your power to make sure that your kids get what they need to succeed. If that means sitting next to a child who whines until you're ready to smother them with a grocery bag until they manage to complete those three math problems then that's what you do. If it means that you threaten to take a snow shovel to their room because OH MY GOD THE MESS, then that's what you do. Hell, if you actually take that snow shovel and start shoveling their treasures into giant Hefty bags, well, then I guess next time they'll clean their damn room, won't they?

I am a big advocate of letting your child test the limits of their world. I think that kids are probably a hell of a lot more capable than we think they are and if we just let them TRY then we're going to be pretty amazed.

I am also not a "helicopter" parent. I let M ride the city bus alone. I let her navigate connecting flights at LAX solo. I let her experiment with cooking and I'm all for her listening to and reading whatever she wants.

For the most part, she takes these freedoms and runs with them. I can honestly say, with the exception of her EXTREME laziness at school work M is ready to navigate the world. She reads at a college level, she has no fear of new things, she's excited to see the world because she's never met a stranger.

I'd like to take credit for all of this, but lets be honest, a lot of this has to do with the schools she's attended.

Which brings me to my point (and here you thought I didn't have one!). Lea, who you'll recall is ten years old is home schooled. The reason I was given is that due to her severe speech impediment her mom felt it was "safer" to keep her at home. I can see her point, kids are pretty cruel at times and talking to Lea is an exercise in translation. She's very bright but is about as comprehensible as your average two year old. Her comprehension skills are amazing though, if you show her something once, she's got it. Home school, in this instance, isn't a bad choice. Speech therapy is available through a variety of resources so there's no reason she can't excel.

I'm kind of on the fence about home schooling. On one hand, I think it's great. It gives each child the opportunity to learn what they need to learn the way they need to learn it. Something that's lost in most school scenarios. On the other hand, it's hard for me to believe that any one person is capable of excelling at teaching every subject to the same standards as a teacher who specializes in a single area would be. Home schooling is also pretty labour intensive for the care giver who provides it. You're the everything. It's up to you to make sure this kid gets everything they need. It's got to be exhausting and I'll be the first one to raise my hand and say there is NO WAY IN HELL I could do it. Knowing that, I wouldn't even try. That's called being realistic, right?

As we sat in the car waiting for D to deal with the car repair place Lea and I fished through my car for us something to entertain ourselves with. I found a book that M had left in there probably some time in 2004. The reading level is listed right on the cover as 4th grade. A little young for Lea, who should be entering fifth grade, but anything to do is better than "eye spy" for the 500th round. I hand her the book.

"What does this say?" she asks, pointing at the cover.

I'm pretty used to M being as lazy as humanly possible and I'm a chief bud-nipper.

"Dude, you can SO read that" I tell her.

"No, I can't" she replies.

I'm still convinced she's screwing around and I tease her a little more and say something like "The elephant that stalks the clowns at midnight" or something equally silly. I fully expect her to call my bluff and say in that oh my god you are such an idiot voice that children use with adults "No, it doesn't".

But she doesn't.

"read it to me" I tell her

"I can't read!" she whines

"You can't read? Not even this right here?" I say pointing to the first sentence (it said "My name is Sam and I am a super hero, but don't tell anyone" if I recall correctly.)

"I know my letters though" she assures me.

Lea is completely illiterate.

She's ten years old and she can't read. At all.

"don't you read books for school?" I asked her, thinking maybe it was a learning disability.

"No, my mom says I don't have to" she tells me.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

But, still, I think that maybe there is something else going on. Kids exaggerate.

A few minutes later D gets back in the car.

"Can I spend the night at your house?" she asks me a few minutes later.

"Don't you have to do school tomorrow?" I reply

"(her mom) hasn't really been doing that with them. She's (meaning the mom) on the computer a lot" D tells me.

Seriously.

I am trying not to be all high horse I am SO a better mother than you about this, but how to do you let your child remain ignorant because you can't tear yourself away from the Internet? What is so important about WoW or Second Life or whatever the fuck you're doing that you can't take the time to make sure your children are getting educated? Is it really worth failing them to make that raid on the Horde? And if the internet IS that important, if you can't be bothered to teach them, why not just send them to school? Oh, right, because that means you can't stay up until four in the morning and sleep until two in the afternoon. That means that you will have to make sure they have clean clothes and lunch and aren't running around eating raw Top Ramen (I'm not even making that up) and wearing underwear that might, once, have been light pink and a bathing suit top that probably fit when they were six and is held together with a PAPERCLIP. That might mean that they would make friends who would wonder why you have the pulled out seats of a van instead of a couch in the living room because the couch is in the driveway and that might tell their own mother that there is GARBAGE IN THE BROKEN WASHING MACHINE IN YOUR KITCHEN. It might mean you had to think of someone other than yourself for five fucking minutes.

How do you look yourself in the face every day and know that you are the reason your kid is going to suffer for the rest of their life? How do you not do everything you can to ensure that they succeed to the best of their ability? How do you reconcile not even trying?

11 little kittens say Meow:

KAErk said...

Yikes, and it's people like this you wonder if you should call child protective services on. Not sure what I would do in that situation. I don't plan on ever having kids because I am a selfish bitch, and while I might not go as extreme as your friend, I know I would struggle not being selfish on a day to day basis. Kudos to you for having a "well-adjusted" teen (the quotes are because no teen is well adjusted...I wasn't when I was a teen, no teen ever is, it's in the hormones.)

Baylee and Blair's page said...

Jesus Christ! Seriously what is wrong with people? I don't know if I would even have to think about turning her in to DHS! I mean... 10 years old????? What the hell?

She needs to be slapped upside the head a few times! Please tell me she doesn't have any other children!

Tiff

sheila said...

Something has to be done or said. This poor child has been cheated out of everything up to this point - knowledge, friendships, socialization - and will be cheated out of so much more as she gets older. It's kinda hard to earn a living if you cannot fill out a job application.

And if her parents are your friends then it's definitely a sticky situation. I mean, is there even someone you can CALL about something like this?! What about their Dad? Doe they not even NOTICE their 10 year old can't read?!!

I wouldn't know where to begin, but it sounds like this poor girl needs to be in school. Or at least home-schooled by someone who knows how to teach.

Yikes...and so sad...

Jody said...

I totally had to come over here and read your blog after laughing my ass off at your zombie babie in a cat crate comment.

Jody

OHN said...

Give me the number of children's services...I will make the call.

This is nothing short of child abuse..the scars are just all inside.

PearlsOfSomething said...

As a homeschooling parent, I hate when other homeschoolers give us a bad name. The most efficient way to educate a child is to have them reading BEFORE even beginning school (home or elsewhere). Unless the child has an actual learning disability, there's no excuse here.

That said, the statistics from 2007 (the best I could get from a quick search) tell us that 33% of 4th graders in public schools can't read at a basic level (let alone a proficient one). Do you have any idea how badly I'd like to call social services for that! ;-)

Kr√ęg said...

The answer to all of the questions in your post is: drugs.

Lin said...

That's horrible & her mom using her speech impediment as an excuse not to put her in school is lame. Kids are stronger than you think.

Even if this girls' mom is a friend or acquaintance of yours you should put in a call to child protective services or the local school district she's home schooled with & report her illiteracy (even if it's anonymous).

Vanessa K said...

Yes, that is a serious problem. CPS NEEDS to be called. It can be done anonymously. If not, this kid will never have a decent life. I know it's hard because you are friends with the family, but that little girl deserves a chance at life.

Nadine Hightower said...

I thought even Home Schooled Kids had to meet standards for advancement in the programs provided by the state???
And I thought to home school your child YOU had to pay to to do that....Like being in Private School??


That's just sad. But Child Services needs to be called.

Chibi said...

Everyone else has already said what I was going to (report her, drugs, people like her give all home schoolers a bad name). Mom could get off her ass for 15 minutes and let Lea use the precious computer for LEARNING. When I think about how much I loved reading when I was a child, it devastates me to know this poor little girl can't read. In my oh-so-humble opinion, she's depriving her daughter (and not just of basic life skills).

Please consider reporting her. :(