Have you ever had the misfortune of overhearing a conversation which makes your blood boil? It’s hard when you’re not part of it and can’t say your piece. You just have to sit there in a state of pure irritation, tapping your foot, clenching your fists or in my case, as I did just now, huffing in between taking bites of an apple, which I chomped so aggressively I thought my teeth might break.
Let me relay this giant shit of a discussion:
Setting – It’s my daughter’s ballet lesson (which takes place far too early on a Saturday morning, so I’m already on edge). The parents sit in the waiting area while their children dance.
Pushy Parent 1: The problem with her school is that they actually celebrate the under-achievers. My *posh name* is a natural born performer, yet they give merits to children for enthusiastically dancing, instead of to those who can actually dance!
Mrs. In Agreement: That’s just it! They really scrape the bottom of the barrel these days. Enthusiastically! Isn’t every child enthusiastic anyway? *snorts like a dying warthog*
3rd Woman With Incredibly Whiny Voice: My *some other posh name* only got two merits last term. One for brilliant Maths, one for fantastic English, yet there’s kids in her class getting awards for finally being able to velcro their own shoes!
*Witch cackling commences*
My internal monologue: What was fucking funny about that?
Pushy Parent 1: It’s just ridiculous. A child got a certificate the other week for being able to sit still on the carpet! Can you believe that? All five year olds should be able to sit still. She comes home asking why little Johnny got rewarded for doing something she’s been doing for years, and I don’t know what to tell her.
Parent 4 Who Has Thus Far Been Sat In Silence: You have to feel sorry for them, though. Not every child’s gonna be academic…
My internal monologue: Yes! Thank you for piping up! That’s kind of what I want to say, but you didn’t swear.
Parent 4 continues: …Because some parents just don’t bring their kids up right. Even so, it’s unfair on us when we’re actually trying.
My internal monologue: Oh, such a shame. I liked you, Parent 4. Now you’ve ruined it.
This is where I take myself off for a little walk down the corridor. I look at random notice boards and leaflets I’m not interested in, and even read the fire exit procedure, just to distract myself from this parental witches coven.
Internal monologue goes into overdrive, and these are all the things I wish I had the nerve to say:
At what point during your lives did you miss the statement:
“Every child is different.”
When your kids are complaining about other kids getting recognition for achievements that they don’t think are worth any recognition, you should be using that as an opportunity to educate them about diversity. You should be telling your daughter that little Johnny got a certificate for sitting still because he’s different to her, because sitting still is a hard task for him. Why should he not be praised for it?
If a child’s been weeing their pants and they go all day without an accident they should bloody well get a ‘well done’ sticker, whether they’re 2 or 12 years old. Positive reinforcement, duh. They’re not going to repeat the good behaviour if it goes unnoticed and under-appreciated.
It’s exactly the same as your child getting rewarded for learning her times tables off by-heart, when she couldn’t do it the week before. Imagine how horrified you’d be if a teacher didn’t notice that.
There’s a massive difference between bright kids not being challenged enough and the fear they might give up and rebel, which as a counter argument would have made sense, and your issue; which is that inclusion is wrong and schools should be condemned for giving every child a chance.
Obviously the four of you have never experienced the slightly gut-wrenching, punch-to-the-stomach like feeling of being told your son or daughter has a learning difficulty or delay. It’s a lot to handle; a feeling that is worry, guilt, dread and bit of sadness all rolled into one. I don’t expect you to understand what it’s like; watching your child’s peers write mini novels, while yours has only just stopped writing her name backwards and right to left. And I definitely don’t expect you to know what it’s like logging into Facebook the night of parents evening, reading multiple statuses that say:
“Top of the class in everything!”
“A credit to us, polite, well-mannered, well-behaved!”
when you’ve just got back from your appointment with the teacher who complimented your child on “starting to listen.”
But you should be made aware that we question ourselves, compare against others and feel totally anxious about what the future holds. We come to accept it, and begin to embrace their differences and feel proud of them for the things they can do; for their quirks and talents. Suddenly “starting to listen” is a big thing. It’s just as significant as other people’s children writing a story or doing some sums.
Then people like yourselves come along, say awful things, piss on the parade, and it’s hard to hold back from throwing this apple at your face, or hitting you with my bag or something else which might cause an impact.
Of equal importance, is my second issue with everything you said. There are children who come from really under-privileged backgrounds, and are, by research and statistic, more likely to fall behind at school than their more well-off peers.
I’m on about kids who’s parents can barely afford food, never mind learning resources or educational toys. Kids who witness domestic violence every day, or never feel loved, who get neglected and brought up by the TV. You’re saying that these poor little humans who have nothing shouldn’t be praised for the things they do well in, because it might annoy your child and piss YOU off? Get the fuck out.
You know what’s really bottom of the barrel? People who have no compassion for others, who mock those less fortunate than themselves. People who don’t register that there are some invisible disabilities; who think if a child looks “normal” they should act “normal.”
For all the academic areas that my daughter is lacking, I’m thankful that unlike you and your kids, she makes decent sense of the world and isn’t stuck in a bubble of spite and ignorance.
“If we were all the same, mummy, we wouldn’t know who’s who!”
Why are some things such a difficult concept for adults to grasp if my six year old can get her head round them?!