Saturday, May 15, 2010

Evil Book Hoarders

We will ignore the fact that this story occurs on a night that I had spent way too many hours on the road to reach a meeting where I would spend way too many hours listening to things I already knew - and would be held hostage under the premise of a "typo" - and then get back into the car for way too many hours to come home almost two hours late.

We will ignore the fact that my child was anxious about my departure before he knew that my return time would be post-bedtime. And that I'm lucky enough to have him think that my presence at home is a NICE thing.

So I came home - tired and feeling robbed of moments of my life.

And nearly an hour AFTER bedtime, my son busts out of his bedroom with PANIC in his eyes. He's already in tears and I can tell this is about to be a not-so-simple problem to solve.

And this is what he says - in my words.

His teacher is on vacation - or break - or whatever it is that teachers do when they abandon their classes to the watchful eye of some half-knowing schedule-breaking substitute. In her absence the librarian has decided to practice her bullying skills on young children.

The crazed-paranoid lady has 3 weeks left of school and she's screaming-mad as if she's lost her child instead of taking part in a system that has been working perfectly fine ALL YEAR LONG! (You know - we check out books. We read them. We return them in a timely manner ---we should have a good library rating...we are very reliable.) However, for some reason, books that are not even due - are suddenly needed RIGHT NOW!

Maybe this wouldn't be such a fretful event...if it were not for the fact that we have a country report due in 1 and 1/2 weeks. Or so we thought...apparently, the librarian feels that in the absence of the regular teacher - she can threaten that the due date is really TOMORROW! ???

(I mean is this kind of transfer of power covered in the school handbook?)

Now, we've had this project for a little over a week - we generally have about 3 weeks to work on these reports. And about 2 weeks in -we start (and by we I mean I start saying "time to do it" and he starts doing it) reading about the country and getting ideas for the report and poster. And as per our normal schedule - we've been thinking about it and getting started with the process.

But he's put nothing on PAPER. And he certainly doesn't have enough knowledge about this country on his own - I dare you to list facts about landscapes, people and culture, and wildlife of Mozambique without a reference book. (And yes, I'm familiar with the Internet -but at this stage they want you to use their references so they can ensure you are getting trained on how to not plagiarize.)

So the evil book hoarder is dying to get her hands on the Mozambique reference book and telling my son he needs to complete a 3 week project in one evening. (Did I mention - she's clearly lost her mind? And her sense of limitation of power and authority?)

I'm sure there was a "correct" thing to say. Or maybe there was a "better" thing to say.

And for the record, we are a very rule-abiding family. But I could not stop the words from falling out of my went something like this..... "It's 9:30. You are going to bed. Your report will be done by the DUE DATE - you know, the one your TEACHER gave you. You are NOT taking the book back. If she asks, you will say 'I'm not done yet.' (he's gasping at the idea in fear) She can't hit you. She can't give you a bad grade. She shouldn't yell at you. You can tell her that you will do it as quickly as you can, and in the mean time if there's further concern she can call your mother or send me a bill."

Was that wrong? Or is it more wrong that she's scared my child to the point of tears?

It is becoming a common theme that so many adults lack the ability to PLAN based on a time line. It's an epidemic! Seriously people. Choose the date when you need it done. Count backwards to set goals of the steps you need to do to complete in order to meet the deadline. It's not that tricky. Or maybe it is...

I'm marking my calendar for next school year for 3 weeks before school ends. At that point I'll be sending a note to school - here's my rough draft...

"Dear Teacher (And yes, by then I will know her name)

Please excuse my son from checking out library books for the rest of the school year.

We have an extensive library at home. We visit the public library weekly. I assure you - he will continue to be a reader for the next 3 weeks of school and beyond.

But if it's all the same with you, I'd like to save your librarian the cost of anti-anxiety meds and leave the books in her care and custody. I'd like to save my child from the harassment and kidnapping accusations - because anyone who makes my child cry with panic and fear of unknown punishments is not what we would refer to as a "nurturing and enriching" and therefore, I do not find it necessary for my child to have contact with them in the midst of their end of the year outbursts.

Thank you for your cooperation.

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