16 Sep

Every day I find myself ranting after the girls come home from school. Or rather, after I work the first half of my god forsaken split shift and go haul their carcasses home 4 blocks. I open up their homework bags and idiotic “star” binders and see what fresh hell awaits.

Usually it’s a request for money. Flyers for stuff we can’t afford since we’re neither rich or on assistance. Lectures about reading to your children, not parking in the “kiss and drop” zone.

And today, a note. No giving out party invitations anywhere on school grounds. Because, and I quote, “we wish to avoid hurt feelings.”

I’m not an ogre. I was a kid once. I was a kid who was never, EVER invited to anything. Unless we count the months after my mother died, when the pity invite was in full effect.

I didn’t like the other kids. For the most part, they didn’t like me. I was strange. I was bigger than them. I did weird things. I knew all these things, and it never bothered me.

Vivian received very few invites last year, and never mentioned it. The few she did get I mostly ignored since we couldn’t get there, or couldn’t afford a present. And she was well aware that with the exception of one of her close friends, that there were reasons we weren’t going. She was also aware why not everyone gets an invite. Some kids don’t like you. Some you don’t like. Some parents can’t afford everyone at their house.

A multitude of reasons, spawing a multitude of conversations about class, budgeting, friendship and self confidence.

However, because we’re sparing “hurt feelings”, I no longer get to have these same conversations with my children, who apparently get to wait until who knows when to have real life jump up at them and bite them in the ass.

It’s not that I don’t understand the inclination-I do. No one wants their child to suffer.

But it’s a big bad world out there, full of people who don’t like us, and quite possibly wish to do us harm. It’s a real world, with obstacles and people and emotions we have to process and deal with. And speaking as the kid who was weird and shy and had a mother who sheltered her as much as possible from these blows until she couldn’t anymore, it’s a world we need to be exposed to early on.

And it’s also a world that I am responsible for guiding my children into.

It’s bad enough that a kid cannot walk by herself 10 feet off school property, that I get glared at for letting my daughters gleefully run the last block and a half to school alone. It’s bad enough that the school seems intent on teaching my daughters to be passive and rely on other people for their own protection, to the point that I need to virtually scream at them that a little self defence is not a bad thing.

But this…this just smacks of all the wrong things, protectionism for all the wrong reasons. We’re poor. Period. I cannot afford the latest and greatest of everything, and frankly, I don’t want to give them to my kids, let alone anyone else. And this is a conversation that I have with my children, because we do not live in bubbles of magical ponies. When I say we can’t have something, or do something, Vivian automatically answers “Because there’s no money for that, right?” She’s beginning to understand that money doesn’t grow on trees, and part of the reason for this understanding? Being unable to attend parties last year.

I am growing so irritated by the fact that every single movement seems to be one to cover children in cotton at this school. My favorite was during Vivian’s kindergarten year when they weren’t allowed to jump off half foot snowbanks unless they formed a line and took turns. No creativity, no chances to make mistakes. Just rote. Just…what passes for problem solving and fun.

I send my children to school for an education, and I worry enough with poor test scores and an administration that is unable to send the right student info home or even spell my children’s last name right, despite being given it in 10 places correctly over two years.

And now, I have to worry about my children being taught that things are always fair?

Maybe I’m harsh, but this is one lesson I wish to get out of the way early, and in my way. Not by pretending.


10 Responses to “Invite”

  1. Sam September 16, 2010 at 11:44 pm #

    The public schools here are always sending home fliers to donate money for things. We don’t even bring them home to throw them out. We hand them back to the teacher and say, “You can use this for recycling paper.”

    Don’t worry about the birthday invitations. The school can stop kids from distributing invitations in class, but they can’t stop kids from talking about birthday parties on the playground.

  2. audre September 17, 2010 at 7:22 am #

    Children should not stop going to a party because they can’t afford a present. The best present can be a picture or a poem drawn or written especially for the person. It is unique and special… a gift that will last forever.

  3. hodgepodgeandstrawberries September 17, 2010 at 7:33 am #

    Yeah, the giant sucking sound is coming from our school too. So far this year we’ve had $40 for school supplies (fine, means I didn’t have to buy them); $8 for the “agenda” (completely stupid, they don’t have homework yet); the fall bulb fundraiser campaign; and the Terry Fox run pledge forms. Plus pizza day and school picture day.

    I was expecting it – I remember from my own school days when we didn’t have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of that September was a BAD month. But it’s still annoying.

    As for the birthday party thing, it’s just one more symptom of a larger problem; as you say, this idea that life is fair. This kind of thinking has already produced one generation of entitlement junkies. So far we haven’t seen any policies like that – our school is pretty rural in its approaches, which means a minimum of political correctness (we have a Christmas concert! called a Christmas concert!) – but I still tremble a bit at the idea that other adults are now teaching their particular morals and ideals to my boy. I just have to trust that the five years up to this point have made an impression, I guess.

  4. sweetsalty kate September 17, 2010 at 7:43 am #

    It’s our first year of school for Evan and this made me groan. I’m just trying to remember that I went through the public school system. I was not homeschooled by a radical waldorfian. I played with plastic toys and got snubbed in the schoolyard. Some of my teachers weren’t happy people.

    Not that I think you’re advocating radical waldorfiganism. It’s just that general malcontent with the system, with bureaucracy. And I get that. I’m just inclined, at this particular juncture, to never buy lunchables and, otherwise, bury my head in the sand.

  5. sweetsalty kate September 17, 2010 at 7:45 am #

    To clarify: I didn’t mean that *you* made me groan. I just don’t like an idea grabbing the back of my neck and yanking me out of the sand. It’s so nice and warm and oblivious in there. 🙂

  6. Misty September 17, 2010 at 10:07 am #

    I’m with you on this one. Our grandkids at this rate will wear helmets to school. I’d rather teach my kid how to deal with it, than pretend it doesn’t happen.

  7. Jennifer September 17, 2010 at 2:54 pm #

    I get annoyed with the same thing, they haven’t gotten to the “no birthday invites” point yet. But the hovering…my god the hovering.

    I remember when Emily was 9 months, just learning to walk and I took her to the sitters. I told her that because she tries to climb on everything and anything, she needs to learn that she will fall, cause she will NOT listen to warnings of danger. So, I told her, if she looks like she is going to fall….safely…let her. The sitter looked at me funny, but I think she got it. Emily is still this way, you cannot reason with her at all, she needs to see the consequences of her actions.

    Oh! I got an insurance form from the school, to buy insurance for Morgan in case she gets hurt on the playground. WTF?

    And the funny looks I got from people when I was at a market and let Emily swim in a puddle…it was a warm day, warm rain, we were already wet *shrug* isn’t that what puddles are for?

  8. Suebob September 20, 2010 at 12:45 am #

    It just seems like there is some sort of conspiracy to make parenting as competitive and complicated as possible. It used to be that kids played sports. Then parents had to go to every single game. Then they all had to have faux-pro uniforms. Then travel teams. And every single game, someone had to bring snacks and water, because God forbid children go a couple hours without food and a big plastic water bottle being handed to them…How did children in the past survive?

    • thordora September 20, 2010 at 8:43 am #

      That’s just it. I understand the urge to protect them, but by the same token, it’s my JOB to get them out of the house in a few years as usual, relatively well adjusted women. Coddling them and teaching them that life is fair just seems like a really bad idea.

      But then, no one believes in Santa in my house either so….

  9. Holly September 23, 2010 at 11:55 am #

    I hear this. Our school has an “all-or-nothing” approach to invites, but the classes are small enough to make this a possibility.


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