Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Another heart breaking conversation with one of my offspring last night. "I hate school. I just hate it," he declares.

I don't try to convince him he doesn't. I couldn't. Instead I tell him that he could switch to an alternative school and probably be done this summer. He doesn't want to do that.

"But I want to play football," he says. Indeed, this son's reason for going to school, probably close to #1 on his list of reasons for being, is football.

"Well then," I say, "you have to go to school. And you have to do something while you are there."

He clasps his strongly chiseled arms behind his back. Emits a sigh so deep that it seems to come from the depth of his toes. Is silent for a minute.

"All right," he promises. "I will. I promise I will."

This isn't the first conversation my son and I have had about school. And I know it won't be the last. This son is not a school kind of kid. He is not a sit-still kind of kid. He is not a listen to someone else talk and write it down and memorize it. He is not a test taker.

This son is a hands-on, gotta move, gotta do, kind of learner. He is a scholar of football, who spends hours and hours and hours studying his film and perfecting his craft. He is a talented artist who never misses his first period ceramics class, where he creates detailed and colorful pots. and sculptures. He spends much of his at home time in his bedroom, composing music on Garage Band. He watches the History Channel.

This son is a sweet, sweet guy. He pays attention to people's feelings, cares when the people around him are sad. He is not super communicative, but every few months, he writes me a note to explain a situation or apologize for something, these letters are often multiple pages. He is sweet and gentle with little kids, and with old people. He is a loyal, protective older brother, who would NEVER and I mean NEVER let anything happen to his sibling.

He chose his high school. Has lots of friends. Doesn't want to go to an alternative school or vo-tech or anywhere else.

And yet every morning, I wake him up. And send him to a place he hates. A place where he really doesn't fit. Where he constantly works from areas of weakness.

And I wonder, does it really have to be this way?


elsie said...

Your slice makes me so sad for your son. He sounds like an amazing guy. Hopefully one day he will be able to only have the classes that inspire him, but in the meantime . . . Thanks for reminding us to look at the child in our class, not the class.

Magical Ms. M said...

You honesty and reflection are inspiring. Thank you for sharing this story. The description of your son is poetic, a remarkable tribute to a remarkable kid. You have given your son choice, and this is significant. If only the school would allow him to do more of that as well.
Keep on writing,

MaryHelen said...

Tears are filling my eyes. A mother's hope is for her child to be loved, accepted. I don't understand why school is not the place of comfort when we say it is a safe place. Really? Because of seeing students hate school, I try to see past school. Difficult, yes, but definitely possible. Thanks for your from-the-heart post. The interweaving of conversation and thoughts captured me. :)MaryHelen

MaryHelen said...

Tears fill my eyes at the love you have for your son. The beginning grabbed my attention and grabbed my heart. You show guidance through the tough choices in life. Bravo. This is a good reminder to be noticing the child beyond the school environment. :)MaryHelen

Linda B said...

Loving the football puts an extra bit of choice into it, but my daughter had her own struggles with the high school setting. We helped her find some ways to take community college classes which she chose & it did help some. They seemed more mature to her & aided in her quest for 'real' learning, which she continually railed against in her high school classes. What a dilemma for your son. I wish him well in his quest for what fits!

Terje said...

I hope that your son will keep finding the strength to go to school.I hope that he has at least some teachers who don't see a student in him, but the wonderful individual you described him to be.

Elizabeth G. said...

My heart just bleeds for you and your son. I can't imagine what it must feel like to send your child to a place that makes him unhappy, but your writing as brought me there. I hope that the school year goes quickly so he can focus on his loves and passions. Best of luck to you both!

Ruth Ayres said...

You are so genuine and I wish I could sit across the table from you. We would talk for hours, wouldn't we?

When I read your slice the first time it gave me goosebumps. Then I read it to my husband and it cracked my heart, making tears come to my eyes.

Yes, why does it have to be this way.

Bless you, friend. You are a good mom.

Keep writing,

Deb Day said...

Your son could be in my class and I hope that I love him for who he is. I hope I ask how his day is, how the game went on Friday night--better yet, I hope I saw him play. I hope he brings me his art to let me see it.I hope he tells me about the show he watched on the history channel. I hope he says, this is my second favorite class (because art is the first). I hope he writes me a note someday and says, "Thanks for helping me make it through the day."

And thank you mom, for reminding me about your son...