Monday, January 15, 2001

No battle zone

My kids started a new school this year, and I have to say, it's nice. It's very nice. It's too nice. Nice things keep happening, and my fight-the-school reflexes are twitching. I'm used to doing battle. It's hard to do coffee instead.

Yet that's what I was doing last week. I arrived early for a meeting with my son's teacher, and the principal took me down the teacher's lounge for a cup of coffee. This is a refreshing change from last year, when the principal regarded me as Public Enemy #1. Had I consumed any cup of coffee she offered me, I might not be here typing today. But of course, she never offered.

On the way back to the office, New Prinicipal made a point of telling me how well my children are doing. He thinks my son is funny, and will grow out of his behavior problems. Old Principal liked him just fine except when he was jumping and making noise and disturbing her assemblies, which was pretty much all the time. She wanted him OUT of her school, and only the fact that I wanted him there--and that principals can only make life miserable for special-ed students, they can't actually evict them--kept him around.

Am I remembering the old school in too harsh a light? Probably. We were happy there for many years. I got along fine with everybody until I forced my daughter to be in a mainstream class nobody thought she belonged in, and forced my son to be kept in a special-ed class where everybody thought he was disruptive. Folks, that's why he's in special-ed. Deal with it. They did, but not happily. The year was far more of a struggle than it had to be. When the opportunity to transfer the kids to our neighborhood school arose, I jumped at it. The time had come to cut and run.

And what a nice place we've run to. The principal is friendly. The secretary lets me roam the halls; no more waiting outside the office for somebody to come and fetch me for meetings. The teachers think my kids are in the right place and doing fine. The Child Study Team has gone out of its way to accommodate my parental whims. It's nice. Nice, nice, nice.

Alright, the principal did yell at me once, when I dropped the kids off in the wrong place. There's no proper parking lot, so I have to battle sidestreet parkers and then hike to the school. And they still have those ridiculous Christmas pageants that take up weeks of class time for rehearsal. But at least the kids only had to learn a few songs, and the thing didn't go on forever. It was really very ... nice.

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