Don’t Play Games With Me, Kid

, , , , , | Friendly | October 13, 2019

(I am attending my son’s graduation. As important as these are, they are long, dull affairs for those in the audience. I have just bought an iPod and I brought it along to keep myself amused. There’s a kid in front of me about 11 or 12. He turns around and sees me playing a game on the iPod.)

Kid: “Let me play!”

Me: *taken slightly aback* “Um, that would be no.”

Kid: “Why not? I’m bored. I want to play with it!”

Me: “Because I bought it to amuse me, not amuse you.”

(The kid glared for a moment, clearly trying to think of a rebuttal, and then realized I’m no pushover and turned back around. I returned to my game thinking, “Where are this kid’s parents? Now and for the last ten years of his life?”)

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Tutoring Is A Science

, , , , , , | Learning | October 7, 2019

(I go to a religious private school up until high school. Then, I go to a public school, instead. To supplement my religious learning, my parents hire a private tutor. As I really enjoy math and science, I don’t particularly enjoy most of the sessions as a lot of the material is just based on raw memorization. The following dialogue often happens whenever my tutor asks something that I get stuck trying to answer.)

Tutor: “Come on, this isn’t a hard question. It’s not like this is rocket science.”

Me: “Yeah, that’s the problem.”

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Going To School Makes Things Extra Confusing

, , , , , | Learning | October 4, 2019

This occurred when I was five and starting my first day of primary school. For a bit of background, my single mother had just moved to Melbourne with me and my older brother after living in a few semi-rural towns. As a result, I was pretty independent due to being allowed to explore all throughout the day (with boundaries and rules). This was the first time I had lived in a capital city. Additionally, the last town we were in had a wonderful kindergarten that was very similar to a classroom setting, so I was already pretty familiar with what school would entail.

My mother drove into the school parking lot where we could see, up a hill, all the parents and kids in a waiting area in front of the classroom; the school had individual buildings for classrooms instead of one large building. Knowing what I’m like and what I was used to, she pointed to it and said that was where I needed to go. She didn’t even pull into a parking spot; I just hopped out of the car, grabbed my bag, said bye, and went up there.

I remember standing around, seeing all these crying parents and children, and not getting what the big fuss was all about. I was more confused about why we were all just standing around and not getting started, and why all the parents were around. I don’t recall any parents approaching me, but I wonder what they thought seeing this one girl on her own looking bored while they’re trying to ready their children.

After a while, I turned my head and was incredibly surprised to see my mum standing there! I was so shocked and said, “What are you doing here?!” and she, apparently not quite getting what the big fuss what about, either, said, “Well, I saw all the other parents up here and thought I should come up here, as well.”

And while I still didn’t get what the big deal was, I was happy I got to spend a bit more time with my mum before school started. When I brought this up to her recently in my mid-20s, she said she forgot she even came up and thought she just dropped me off until I reminded her.

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Shattered That Claim

, , , , , , | Learning | October 2, 2019

One day, my dad’s class was given new rulers by the school to replace old wooden rulers. The old rulers had a problem with splinters, and may have had inches on them — Dad can’t really remember, as this was the 70s — whereas the new rulers were centimetres only. Perfectly valid reasons to replace the rulers. There was just one problem: the school made the mistake of choosing ones advertised as shatterproof, with the word featured prominently on the rulers themselves as if trying to invite the destructive curiosity it inevitably would.

Telling a room of teenagers, the intelligent and mischievous individuals that they are, that it’s impossible to do something has never been a good idea, nor will it ever be. No matter the generation, teenagers will put this sort of claim to the test, and that’s precisely what happened here. My dad and his classmates, taking the claim that these long, thin slabs of plastic were shatterproof as a challenge, started bending the rulers to just over a complete circle, forwards and backwards, to determine the claim’s truthfulness.

The rulers survived being bent forwards, but when they were bent backwards, the claim they were shatterproof failed the truthfulness test miserably. As a result of my dad’s class’s experiment, from what he tells me, shards of plastic shrapnel initially originating from the ridges flew all over the classroom, which was obviously far more dangerous than the splinters from the old wooden rulers. Only one ruler survived the mischief, and that was because it had been confiscated before its user could scatter its remains across the classroom by testing its structural soundness. Dad can’t remember since it was so long ago, but he suspects they went back to the wooden rulers until the not-so-shatterproof ones could be replaced.

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The Power Of A Name

, , , , , | Learning | September 26, 2019

(I have two daughters. One has a cognitive disability. The other daughter comes home one day to tell me that her art teacher used an ableist slur to describe another child’s picture. My teeth clench reflexively.)

Me: “Did you say anything?”

Daughter: “Yes! I told her that was an inappropriate word.”

Me: “Did she respond?”

Daughter: “Not really. She just kind of shrugged. I think she called another kid’s work the same thing, but she was across the classroom by then, so I’m not positive.”

Me: “Okay. I’ll handle it.”

(I call the principal the next day and pass on what my daughter told me.)

Principal: “So, the teacher didn’t call your daughter [slur].”

Me: “No.”

Principal: “So, what is the problem?”

Me: “She referred to the art of another student with a derogatory slur that maligns the art, the student, and anyone with the diagnosis.”

Principal: “…”

Me: “It is inappropriate for anyone — especially a teacher — to use the diagnosis of one person to insult another.”

Principal: “But it wasn’t aimed at your daughter or your daughter’s art.”

Me: “It doesn’t matter who or what it was aimed at. It. Was. Inappropriate.” 

Principal: “Okay. I’ll talk to the teacher.”

(I am flabbergasted by his reaction and have no faith that anything will be done, so I send an email explaining the situation to the superintendent. Not a month later, my daughter comes home and tells me that a substitute teacher used the same word in another class.)

Me: “Did you say anything?”

Daughter: “Yes! And so did two other students! [Daughter’s Friend] even explained why it is wrong to use that word, and she just kept saying it! She must have said it four times before class was over. It was like she was taunting us after we spoke up!”

Me: “Okay. I’ll call the principal. Again.”

(I call the next day.)

Principal: “Did the substitute call your daughter that word?”

Me: “You seem to be under the impression that that matters in some way. That it makes a difference. Why is that?”

Principal: “Well, it does matter, doesn’t it?”

Me: No! No! It doesn’t matter at all. If I come into your school and start swearing at my daughter but not at you, are you going to say something? It! Is! Inappropriate! I have explained to you why it is inappropriate. I have explained to the superintendent why it is inappropriate.” 

Principal: “Yes, I am aware that you contacted him last time. Do you plan to contact him again?”

Me: “I’ve already sent that email; before this call I sent an email. Why would I not? You made no indication that you understood last time. It has occurred yet again, suggesting you did nothing. Now, you are proving quite clearly that you still do not understand. Why would I not seek assistance over your head?”

Principal: “What will it take to fix this?”

Me: “You getting a clue, for starters. You letting it sink in that using one person’s diagnosis to insult others suggests that a person with that diagnosis deserves ridicule and to be like them is insulting. Seriously, stop being so [Principal]ish.”

Principal: “What is that supposed to mean?”

Me: “I think the synonym might be ‘thick.’”

Principal: “You are using my name as an insult?”

Me: “Yes.”

Principal: “That’s pretty childish and inappropriate, isn’t it?”

Me: “Yes.”

Principal: “…”

Me: “Is that sinking in? Now, imagine my using your name to insult your secretary in front of the rest of your staff. Imagine me using your name to insult a student in front of their classmates.”

(I was not sure it sunk in, so I had a long talk with the superintendent. A class was arranged for teachers and administrators in the district to learn the importance of appropriate language in the classroom.)

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