The day before Winter Break, the Girl had a particularly upsetting encounter with her Social Studies teacher. I wrote about it on my Facebook page.
Hubbinator and I had a 45-minute phone conversation with Mr. Social Studies on the day of the incident. He didn’t seem to “get it.”
When I sat down with the Girl to write our emails, she was hesitant. She’s not a fan of conflict and didn’t want to spend her energy on something negative. Unfortunately for her, I felt it was important she stand up for herself and started what would be her email based on what she had said earlier.
Initially she was just reading over my shoulder, but she wasn’t happy with how I put her words “on paper.” She began dictating edits and content, then took over writing the email. (We moms seem to know just how to get our kids to do the things they don’t initially want to do. Wink.) Her biggest issue? My words were “too cutting.” She took out phrases, then entire sentences. She wanted make her point without daggers.
Interesting concept, I thought, as I’m a fan of a verbal bitchslap when it’s warranted.
Her email was exactly what she wanted it to be–exactly what it SHOULD be: honest, sincere, pointed, and respectful.
She’s good, huh?
I decided to wait to write my own email. I liked what she said and thought it would be good to see what kind of response it prompted. If he apologized for treating her poorly, I would be able to move on. He’s human; we all have bad days and make mistakes taking things out on the wrong people. As long as that’s acknowledged and made right by apologizing, we can move forward, I thought.
But he didn’t apologize. As a matter of fact, the next day when the Girl approached him after class about making up her test, he didn’t take that opportunity to address it at all. Nothing.
So, I wrote my email.
I followed the Girl’s lead and didn’t include much of the “cutting” verbiage I was feeling, but made sure to express my feelings adequately. And, because I was copying the principal, the guidance counselor, and the education specialist we worked with at the Cleveland Clinic, I included a bit more of the back story than I would have otherwise done.
After this email, Mr. Social Studies responded to say he would talk to the Girl the following day.
While he referred to their next day’s brief conversation as a “positive and cordial communication,” Hubbinator, the Girl, and I felt it was a bit lacking. It was a fartbag apology.
This prompted serious discussion weighing the merits of sticking it out with a teacher who requires extensive intervention to engage reasonably and respectfully versus pursuing a change of instructor and having a fresh start. With the potential negative ramifications for her health (caused and exacerbated by stress and anxiety–as happened last year), we decided to pursue the instructor change.
I communicated our concerns and issues with Mr. Principal. He talked with the Girl, Mr. Social Studies, and Mr. Guidance Counselor to help make the informed decision that it would indeed be best for the Girl to change instructors. Today was the last day for the Girl to have class with Mr. Social Studies.
For this situation to have escalated to this point is significant. I’m a BIG believer in allowing my kids to deal with and work through difficult situations with other people. It’s an opportunity to develop the important skills they’ll need in the future for roommates, relationships, difficult bosses and co-workers, etc. We went through this with a few teachers last year; the lessons have been learned and valuable experience gained getting through it. However, knowing the toll stress and anxiety take on the Girl’s health, I thought it was time to learn another valuable lesson: When someone does you wrong, you stand up for yourself; when that doesn’t bring about the necessary change in the situation, then it’s time for YOU to change the situation. Once you’ve made it clear that the behavior is not going to be tolerated and you’ve stood up for yourself, you’re in the perfect position–since you’re already “standing”–to walk out the door.