Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Crying Shame

This video, which was first aired ___ years ago (going all Brit Lit, 'cuz I am not really sure exactly when it aired, and I am a bit too lazy to look it up at this very moment), makes me very, very, very sad.

Go ahead. Watch it and come back.

Are you sad? I am, on several levels, the most exceptional two being the fact that the dad is so ridiculously happy to be getting rid of his children, and the fact that the kids are depressed about returning to school.

I remember back to school (I have gone back every fall every year of my life since I was five as a teacher or a student with the exception of two, maybe three years. That's a lot of back-to-school.), and although I was sad to see the summer end, I was always excited about school itself. Of twelve years, three were outstanding, a handful of merely mediocre, and the rest borderline horrific. I think the idea of a fresh start, a new beginning, a chance to be a better (or at least different) person every fall, and then reality set in and it was mostly just bleh.

But the above video speaks to a deep separation between the reality of how parents feel and what their kids experience, as well as making it seem like spending time with your kid is a torturous exercise. I hate how joyful the dad seems. I never felt like the most maternal person on the planet, but I love hanging out with The Kid. She is funny, smart and has conversations like a grown-up. I enjoy hearing her interpretations and opinions, and I loved spending summers together when I was teaching for The Man.

Now I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of her education, watching her develop in a new way. It's not the same thing to go to a conference twice a year or see bits and pieces of a portfolio and then to get a lump of papers at the end ofthe year.  The other day we were doing a microscope lab, and she didn't get the "inverse and rotated" part of the lab (where everything is backwards and upside down). She was so angry with me as we all tried to explain it; finally she got it enough to work with. At the end of the day we talked about why she was so frustrated and how to work through it.

It is difficult to explain why this was so monumental. Perhaps because even though I have always been "that parent" (the one who is up in the teacher's face, asking why) there was always a remove from the process of learning, and she had no desire to have me help her. Now, although she is getting more and more independent, she asks my opinion, explains hers and is generally gracious enough to include me as she learns. we get our hands dirty together. It is a revelation.

The other side of the video is how downtrodden and spiritless the kids feel about going back to school, maybe not for what they are leaving but for what they are going to. It is not all hearts and flowers in Ye Olde Public School, and doesn't look to improve any time soon. I felt that way working in the schools, too, and least for the last couple years. No wonder they look so sad.

Now I whip down the aisles with my shopping cart, happy because we are back to school and because The Kid is excited and on the journey with me. What a beautiful thing!

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