Wednesday, December 09, 2009

lashing out

The practical and fanciful opinions of M's school collide on a rather frequent basis. One on hand I am appreciative of the opportunity she's having, learning in a rural environment filled with diversity and social sciences based on the broader parts of our world. On the other hand I struggle with what seems to be a much slower pace with big chunks filled up by religion. In this country most of the schools have churches on site and that means Mass. Mass and more mass. If I was her I'd be going batshit but blessedly (pun intended) it's all she knows so far so she seems to manage it okay.

But then the other thing happened. The thing that made my blood boil right off the charts.

M comes home happy, my kid is relentlessly happy, we've been given this enormous gift without fully knowing why but we take it with gratitude, our kid practically no matter the situation she is full of joy. So as we talk about her day it finally winds around and it winds around carefully because my kid, along with being happy she's also pretty smart and she knows what makes her mama freak out. But as we talk it becomes clear, her teacher is smacking kids with a ruler when they don't listen to her. She smacks them with a fucking ruler.

It's called lashing here, it's a practice that is used but I was told that it doesn't happen in her school which is one of the main reasons we chose it. We were told this doesn't happen here. So I find myself starting to go apeshit but I reigned it in, getting the full story mattered the most. So we talk about it more and she tells me that her teacher sometimes smacks kids on their hands when they aren't listening and wait, oh wait good lord almighty you know it yes She's Hit My Kid.

I asked M all kinds of questions, did it hurt (a little) did it make her cry (no) how many times (only once) do other kids cry (no) can you show me how teacher does it (she does and it seems rather benign) but still, what the fuck. What the fuck.

So the next day I go in to talk to this teacher, to tell her unequivocally she is not to touch my kid and to talk to the principal too. To tell them if M is doing something in their minds worthy of being smacked to call me on the phone and I will go there right then and there. But no matter what, Do Not Touch My Kid.

So I go in and I go in calm, I am calm because I feel pretty confident we are all still okay and I walk in the classroom to find out that her teacher is gone, she gone as in not coming back and M has a new teacher starting today. So not knowing this teacher and not having any time to form a relationship (which is a big part of the culture here) I don't have a choice, I have to make it clear. So I tell the teacher and she says we don't do that here and I tell her well yes, some of you apparently do and and I am nice but firm, you don't do that to my kid and she hears me and I can tell she can tell this isn't a discussion point. This is just how it's going to be.

So I think we are good, I think things are going to be fine. I go home and think about it and think some more and talk to a few folks, several of whom don't see lashing as a big thing, they lash their own kids and it's just the way things are done but if they are judging my reaction I can't feel it, I can't feel it because again and at the end of the day we are all mothers here and we need to do what is right for us.

M knows what I did, she knows because we talk about all of it, how upset I was and how this isn't okay with me. She was there when I talked to the teacher, I don't shield her from it because I want her to see her mama standing up for her, that I have her back. She was happy I did it but also somewhat unconcerned, it was clearly a bigger deal to me.

But it makes me think about other stuff, about the way she's being assimilated and whether or not I can live with all the ways it happens. I can't live with all of it in the States and I can't live with all of it here, and the amusing thing that the things I can't live with here are very different than there. It's the stuff you don't think about, the stuff you hope you can turn your head to and assume it'll all turn out okay but to an extent we all know that's bullshit and yet we don't know what else to do but stand up when you have to and keep talking about it. Keep talking about all of it and hope some of it sticks.

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Defiantmuse said...

You handled the situation much more calmly than I would have....then again, you're handling the whole indoctrination into Catholicism much better than I would too which would be not at all :)

Magpie said...

that would have made me apeshit too, but then again, the religion would too. your betwixt and between struggle is elucidating - i'm so glad that you're sharing it.

alejna said...

Your life down there certainly is a mixed bag.

I wonder what the story was with the teacher who left. The timing of her leaving with your learning of her "lashing" seems a bit of a coincidence. Maybe she had some sort of breakdown. (That comes to mind because that happened once with one of my elementary school teachers. She go progressively more frazzled in class and then one day she was just replaced.)

Amber said...

Someone hitting my kid would be really upsetting to me, too. I'm not even sure how well I would have handled it. It sounds like you took the best route possible under the circumstances, and I really hope this is the end of it.

So much of society is a mixed bag. I'm sure that I don't even recognize a lot of the indoctrination here, because it's what I've always known. You are in a unique position to see a different culture much more clearly, both good and bad. I'm so glad that you're sharing your journey with us.

mamatulip said...

I commend you on the way you handled that situation. Bravo, Mama.

cheekyketek said...

Celeste made me smile.

Yeah, jen, I agree you did the right thing. I can imagine just how you walked in, too, calm and kind but firm. M knows she's got a treasure in you.

Anjali said...

You are a brave, good mama. M seeing you stand up like that is probably one of the biggest lessons she'll learn in life.

I'm pulling for you and M.

prestonesterly said...


Kyla said...

I would have been LIVID. Like, head popping off my shoulders LIVID. You handled it well. It is hard, here or there, to keep the bad out and the good in. Parenting isn't easy.

krista said...

i am utterly convinced that you have done something huge. the marching in and standing up for your girl? that is something that she will take for granted for now. and then one day she will realize what you just gave her. in that instant. i think of the people i know who did not have anyone in their life who ever stood up for them. they are not the best versions of themselves.
and they've stopped talking about it.

Amy Y said...

Oh I would SO not have been Ok with someone else hitting my kid. I think you did the right thing, culture or not. I hope they don't do that again!! :(

Z said...

When I was a schoolgirl, corporal punishment was still normal in many schools, although not in mine. I know that my parents would have removed me from the school straight away if ever I had been hit.

In fact, I went to a Christian school (Roman Catholic, though I'm not) and it would have been completely against the nuns' ethos. They practised what they preached.

wheelsonthebus said...

That's sort of the thing. No matter where you are, there are going to be things you just hate. And as a parent, you have to choose which crap you are most willing to put up with.