When I became a mother I finally understood how my mom could still, after 28 years, have a resentment against a girl who was mean to me in 5th grade. You just don't fuck with mama. And by not fucking with mama, I mean, you don't mess with a woman's brood. Not one of them. Nothing brings out the grizzly bear in me like someone hurting my beasts.
Today I was talking to a mama whose whose son's finger was cut off in the bathroom door at school. The next day she went to the director of the school's office with her drill and said, "Are you going to take that door down, or am I?" That is don't fuck with mama chutzpah.
This year my children have started in a public school after going to an experiential school, where kids learn hands on, have no tests, and no grades. Students move up according to age and abilities. They set goals quarterly to keep track of their progress. It's a little heaven of a school, but a school with tuition and after I stopped teaching there I just couldn't afford it.
The public school my kids attend is actually a good public school. The teachers work hard and love their students. They do as much hands on as possible with state testing. They try to get the kids outside 15 minutes a day (sigh).
For the most part, my kids are happy, and the worst part of the transition has been for me. My don't fuck with mama button has been pushed so many times these past few months it's a miracle I have not literally turned into a raging bull. Don't fuck with my beasts, because that is fucking with mama.
At my beasts' school there is this strange, systemic idea that writing should be used as punishment, and for a dyslexic boy that is hell. That dyslexic would be my 8 year old beast. The first time it happened his teacher assigned him 50 sentences for not doing his homework, I was away at acupuncture school, I hadn't smoked for 3 days, and my mom, (the OSQ) called to tell me that my boy was sobbing about 50 sentences he had to write on top of his already ridiculous amount of homework. I was so pissed I got into one of those rage induced sobbing, cussing fits that is so attractive on a person.
And yes, I know that was a little bit over the top, but give me a break, I hadn't had a cigarette in three days. Anyway I wrote a very nice letter to the teacher, (who my son loves), and explained why that was not an appropriate consequence for my boy, who writing is already a punishment for. Round one down.
Since then, I have written five letters to my boy's teachers, made two phone calls, whipped my car around in the pick up line, parked, took 50 deep breaths, and met with the principal. And today after another threat of 50 sentences I kindly packed up three packets of hot tea in a New York Times article called About Education: The Evil of Using Writing to Punish and dropped it off for the principal.
I've actually been very sane about it. I mean I know in many ways I am, that parent, the troublemaker, the helicopter. But I compliment the teacher's. I do think they are great, I just don't think that using writing as a punishment is so great. And actually because it brings out fear and pain in my boy, it brings out an anger in me that I'm not sure I ever felt before having children. Don't fuck with mama anger that is so primal I'm grateful I have learned about taking a breath before jumping on someone like a monkey with rabies.