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.