I always think my kids are amazing!
I mean really, what parent doesn't believe they have the smartest kids? My children get good grades in school and they are always polite and kind to others.
When I have a conversation with them or they are being troubled by something, I tend to believe that in the "Grand Scheme of Things" I know what is best for them. It isn't that I don't think they know what to do, I just believe I have more life experiences to draw upon. Therefore, it is my belief that I can help them draw a conclusion over what they are contemplating.
As you know thru my previous blogs, I used to "tell" my children "what" to do. Now, I have conversations with them that involves me asking them, "What do you think?". But if I am honest, I think I have the ability to come up with a "good answer." I tend to believe I can see the "Big Picture."
Until recently that is.
One day, my daughter got in to the car after school. That is no unusual event, as I pick her up every day from school. But she seemed unusually quiet, and I sensed that something was going on in her world. I've learned not to bombard her with questions when she first gets in the car, so I waited for her to come to me.
Within the hour she found me and said, "Mom, I need to talk to you. Something happened at school today."
I hate those words. Especially when they come with the tone that says, "And it wasn't good."
I tried to calm myself before I acted like a crazed cat on the run and climbed in to the nearest tree. This is something that I do if I get freaked out by something.
"What happened?" I asked in my calmest I can handle this voice.
And the story went as follows (her words as best that I can remember)...
"Today in class the teacher said we had a quiz the next day. Well, everybody freaked out because we couldn't remember the teacher saying we had a quiz. And I was saying it too. We don't have a quiz! Well when I said it all the kids said that if I said we weren't having a quiz it meant that she didn't tell us about the quiz because I never lie. Then the teacher walked up to me and said, 'are you going to believe a little white girl over me?' And mom..."
I couldn't hear what she was saying anymore. My brain stopped working. Did she just say what I think she said? So I tuned back in to her words...
"And mom, I just don't think what we were talking about had anything to do with my race. Then after class all my friends were asking me if I was ok and did I realize that the teacher just said something racist to me."
I'm still trying to breathe at this point. I wanted to get in the car and drive to the school and yell and scream and possibly hurt somebody. Then I realized that school was closed for the day and nobody would be there for me to yell and scream at. This could not be happening. This was my baby. She was only supposed to be focusing on her grades not on dealing with a situation like this.
I tuned back in...
"I was mad and my friends were mad. Is a teacher allowed to do that? Can't she lose her job over this?"
Crap. It was my turn to talk. I had to come up with something really intelligent to say to my child and for the life of me, I couldn't think of anything that would explain this scenario.
Think think think......
I quickly asked her what she wanted to do about the situation. She answered me honestly with an "I don't know." Thank God she didn't ask me what I wanted to do about the situation. I don't know if I would've been able to control my thoughts.
I told her we would discuss it as a family with my boyfriend and see what he thought (he is the one who usually pulls me out of the tree that I climb in to).
We had a family discussion and allowed my daughter the time to have her say. We then asked her if she wanted to report it to the principal and she said, "No, it wouldn't help."
We asked her if she wanted me to talk to the teacher (I was certainly willing to give her a piece of my mind and kick her butt, if needed). But my daughter once again declined.
Well, what do you want to do, we all wanted to know.
And then came the words of kindness and wisdom from the most amazing 13 year old that I know. "I want to let it go."
Now when she first said those words, it wasn't what I wanted to hear. NOT AT ALL.
I know you are going to remind me of the words from my last blog "....let them make their own decisions." But how could I let her make this decision. This was big. Too big to let go.
Maybe the bigger question was, could I let it go?
What I wanted to do was send an email to the principal and demand a meeting. Then I would spring it on her like a tiger pouncing on her prey! Then we would call in the teacher and pin her to the wall and demand a public apology and her resignation!
These were just a few of my thoughts. There were uglier ones but I won't disclose them here.
So, when she said "Let it go," I wasn't prepared for those words.
I called some of my friends to get their opinions. Most of them were as outraged as I was. They were all moms, so I knew I could count on them for the reaction I was looking for. Thankfully, they are also good and fair minded people. After multiple conversations with multiple people, here is the conclusion that I drew.
If I went to the principal, she would in turn go to the teacher. Then my daughter would get drawn in to the drama of the situation. It would turn in to an ugly adult issue that my child, a young teenager, would have to face every day. She may be a wise young lady, but I was convinced she wasn't equipped to handle the adult reactions of this situation.
Also, if I went to the principal against my daughter's wishes, what would that do to our relationship? Would it send her the message that I don't trust her judgement? Would she think that I couldn't trust her?
I didn't know, but I couldn't take the chance.
So, here is what I did do.
With my daughter's permission, I went to the head of the PTA (a family friend) and let her know what had happened. She could investigate the issue and let me know if this was something that had happened before. We would then decide if we needed to pursue any action against the teacher. I then had a conversation with my daughter and let her know that I would respect her decision, HOWEVER, if push came to shove (which meant if this happens again), I would take it as far as I needed to, which to me meant Legal or Otherwise.
She just looked at me and smiled.
Here is the reality of this situation. I am not the first parent nor will I be the last who has had a child who has been discriminated against or has been exposed to racism. It is disgusting that it happened in the first place, but THAT is old news.
It was hard to remove the emotion from the situation, but with my child's graceful display, I learned that it was the best choice to make. I learned that there are times that you turn the other cheek. That is the hardest thing to do...turn the other cheek. I also learned that if I ran out of cheeks to turn (the situation happened again and again), it was ok to take action.
My boyfriend said something very important the day this happened. He looked at my daughter and asked her this question, "Who do you think learned the most by your actions today, the students or the teacher?"
I know he was talking about the kids learning the most, but I really think I learned the most.
To say that I am proud of my daughter, is an understatement.
As a side note, all of my daughter's classmates and friends are black, mixed, hispanic, native american and white. I was delighted that they saw thru something ugly and supported their friend whom they love very much. She has always been very good at choosing friends and making lasting relationships.