Once upon a time, I worked as a Turkish-Moroccan belly dancer. My teacher was a delightful lady from Zaragoza, Spain. I had a genuine, 100% authentic coin belt made by a man from Turkey. The belt had 144 diamond-shaped metal coins stamped with the image of Venus on the Half-Shell.
I performed in my high school talent show. The audience actually threw money at the stage. That in itself was funny. Then the stagehands gathered it all up and brought it to me backstage!
My teacher often took me with her when she’d been hired for a party. During the holiday season, we appeared as part of a steady stream of entertainers at a bachelor party. Just one piece of art on the walls in that house could have put me through college. That was the night I got the biggest tip I’d ever received. Some generous soul stuffed a $10 bill down the back of my coin belt!
Ah, the places I’ve been and the things that I’ve seen….
Once again, my sons’ high school administration has made me furious.
Earlier this week John came home with a full color brochure full of quotations from famous people and some really disturbing photos. The subject? The cruel and brutal treatment of farm animals and how they are killed and processed for our food.
Horrifying? Oh yes. Was that all? Oh no.
There was a video. Plenty of gross, heart-wrenching detail.
Whoever was behind this went for the hat trick by providing a speaker who hammered the message home even further.
John was really upset. I sent an email to his teacher/caseworker expressing my outrage over having not been allowed any kind of parental review of such disturbing material. I asked very clearly to know who had approved this material for the class.
As usual, she didn’t know a thing about it and said she’d look into it. The next day I got an email from her saying she’d spoken to the Health class teacher who told her some other students had also been upset by the subject matter. Really? Gosh, who could have seen that coming?
Nobody answered my question about who approved the material in the first place.
John’s teacher/caseworker assured me this would be taken into consideration for next year. What about this year? What about these students? What about the damage that has already been done?
I have followed procedure by contacting John’s teacher/caseworker. I’m in the process of making an appointment to talk to the principal. I don’t expect much. The school year is almost over and the administration will probably just make the usual soothing noises and promises of doing better next year.
Not good enough.
I will have a name, and if I don’t get one, I’m going to keep going up the chain of command until somebody takes responsibility for this.
Islands offer some unique opportunities to travelers. Arriving on the island can be as simple as a ferry ride or as complex as multiple international flights. Some islands are popular tourist destinations, and others are best-kept local secrets. When I began working on this post, I was startled to realize just how many islands I’ve visited!
Alameda Island — Located in the San Francisco Bay, “the Alameda” is home to the U.S.S. Hornet. When John was in grade school, I went with him on a field trip to see this national historical monument. For me this was quite a sentimental journey. My father served aboard the U.S.S. Shangri-la. To be able to show John this huge aircraft carrier similar to where his grandfather had served meant so much to me.
Santa Catalina Island— I’ve been to the island a total of three times. The most memorable trip had to be in my junior year of high school. Mr. Gilbert, my Marine Biology teacher, took a group of us students to one of the quieter coves away from the busy harbor closest to Avalon, the main city. We camped out on wooden platforms with no tents, just sleeping bags. We must have done experiments or some type of lab work. Unfortunately , what I remember most about that trip was falling off the boat into the water and losing my contact lenses. I had to spend a day and a half being led around by somebody, which didn’t endear me to my classmates. Worse, I dreaded going home and telling Mom I needed a new pair of lenses. Back then they cost two hundred dollars!
Manhattan — Before the kids came along, my husband and I spent Christmas vacation with his mother in New Jersey. She gave us tickets to see “Les Miserables” on Broadway. Oh wow. Nothing in live theater has blown my mind like the moment when Javert jumps off the bridge. The way the stage crew made that happen, between the lighting and the turntable in the stage and flying the bridge upward…. I really believed I saw Javert’s body spinning in the current of the river. After the performance was over, I couldn’t stop crying for a solid hour. I was so moved, and so overwhelmed by the superb quality of the performers.
Maui — Once upon a time I went to Maui with my mother. This was the first time I’d been to Hawaii, so I was quite excited. At one point I gave serious thought to Marine Biology as a career. Given that, I was really looking forward to the ride around the coral reefs offered by Atlantis Submarines. An obstacle arose in the form of a tropical storm. Ye gods and little fish! The rain came down so hard I felt like an extra in Key Largo. Mom and I had only so many days to spend on Maui. We were worried we’d have to leave before weather conditions made the submarine ride possible. The big concern was whether or not the ocean currents would be strong enough to sweep the small, battery-powered submarine out over the island’s shelf and into the deeper waters.
We did get to take the ride, which involved a boat ride out to the spot offshore where we boarded the submarine. The ride was everything I’d hoped for. The tour guide pointed out various species of fish. Much to my satisfaction, I spotted a rockfish despite its excellent camouflage.
Vashon Island — When Michael was just a baby, Chris and I went to Vashon Island on a pilgrimage to the All-Merciful Saviour Russian Orthodox Monastery. The abbot is Priestmonk Tryphon, shown here with Hammi, his Norwegian Forest Cat. The gold badge Fr. Tryphon is wearing on his belt represents his rank as the Chaplain for the Vashon Island Police and Fire Departments. The pilgrimage included several presentations. I gave a speech on the life of St. Xenia of St. Petersburg, one of the few female Fools for Christ. St. Xenia is one of my favorite saints. She’s known in particular for helping people overcome alcoholism. Given how much damage alcoholism did to my father’s body, I’m sure that’s a big part of what took him from us before he could see his grandsons. Holy St. Xenia, pray to God for us!
Once again, I find myself in the position of wanting to start shouting loudly enough to shatter a few windows over at John’s high school.
At the beginning of this year, John and all the other sophomores received their class assignments and went off to locate the text for their courses at the school library. John ended up not having any texts to pick up because some decisions had not been made at higher levels about which texts would be used. OK. It was rather late in the day for that kind of indecision, but no big deal.
A few days later, John’s classes got switched around and one was changed to something entirely different. Nobody bothered to ask the permission of this special need student’s parents, namely Chris and me. Nobody bothered notifying us after John started attending this class. Good thing his IEP was right around the corner. I printed out all the emails between John’s caseworker/teacher and myself and took them to the meeting to demonstrate the fact that we had been neither consulted nor notified.
All of this is prelude to what I’m angry about today.
The change in schedule put John into Graphic Design. This was problematic for several reasons, but I’m going to focus on one in particular. At John’s school, the computer system has lots of lovely software programs so the students can work on their assignments in class or at the Computer Lab. Nobody told us that in order for John to be able to do the homework for Graphic Design (which nobody bothered telling us about, period), John would need to do as the other students had done and purchase a package of software programs totaling $293.00.
I don’t know about you, but for us that’s a big ticket item.
My husband is a software engineer. He was already seriously unhappy with a number of things that went on last year when John had to take Digital Literacy. Guess what? The same teacher is in charge of Graphic Design. He’s a nice enough man, but he’s of a rather abstract turn of mind, so his thought processes are diametrically opposed to the way John, being ASD, can learn. A number of the same issues that came up in Digital Literacy have now arisen in Graphic Design.
I am in a screaming hissy mood right now because John has been sent home with work he’s supposed to do over the weekend, using the software we do not have and, for a number of very good reasons, my husband refuses to buy. Once again, despite me really hammering this point home at the IEP and in a number of emails, the teachers and school aide do not seem to grasp the point that John CANNOT do these assignments at home. Not because of any processing issues on his part, but because the autocratic yahoos took it upon themselves to leave us, John’s parents, out of the loop, in violation of his IEP, common courtesy, and common sense.
Have any of you found yourselves in this kind of situation? What did you do about it? How do you get the administration to really listen and retain the crucial information about what’s interfering with your child’s education? As my husband said, I really cannot believe we are the only family who didn’t and doesn’t have almost $300 to pay for a software package essential to the coursework.
On Monday he came home from school all happy about his new math work, which is a computer game called “Manga High” that teaches math skills. He’d earned a reward ticket which entitled him to “a preferred activity” here at home.
On Tuesday he came home proud to tell me he had “been respectful and followed directions.” That means he listened and learned his new schedule without getting upset about it, winning him another reward ticket.
On Wednesday he came home all happy about being able to spin a basketball on his fingertip AND being able to make a basket by throwing the ball backward over his head. We got out his basketball and he gave us all a demonstration of the spinning.
Today he came home with a reward ticket that had a note from his teacher. “John raised his hand and answered questions.” That means he participated in class discussions! This is HUGE! I was so proud of him, so happy, that I sent him out with his aide to go buy himself a treat. He chose a Tollhouse Cookie ice cream sandwich, which goes to show John has good taste.
My poor, frustrated, angry boy is happy again. He likes school. He comes home all excited over his latest accomplishment. He’s going in the direction we wanted him to go. He’s already picking up the skills he’s been having such trouble learning.
Thank you, God. Thank you to all of John’s teachers, his caseworker, his school staff and his aide. Thanks to my husband and my sister who were there alongside me for John when he needed us.
Thank you, John. Thank you for being a strong, brave, marvelous boy, willing to keep trying no matter how hard some tasks can be.
Pffffft. They haven’t invented the smiley that can sum up an average day at our house. The shark, maybe, or the crazy face. Otherwise too much gets left out.
😀 I am happy that the school year went so well and ended on a high note. I am happy that I have a new laptop and found my novel file intact after the transfer. I am happy that the weather has been reasonably mild so far, keeping me from feeling like my brain is boiling inside my skull. I have waist-length hair and I can’t wear it up because it gives me a headache. Try wearing a fur coat all summer long. Makes me feel deep sympathy for my cats.
😛 There’s all the usual stuff to be anxious about, along with a few new items that are just so wonderful I don’t even want to talk about them. Anxiety management is an important life skill. They really ought to teach it in high school. Now that would be something valuable to carry with us, especially when facing the rigors of trying to get into a good university.
So much for this, the penultimate item of the 10 Day Challenge. The grand finale will feature “:-( One Confession.” Stay tuned!
I'm a professional writer living in Northern California with my husband and two sons. Fantasy in various forms is my reading and writing pleasure. I'm a history buff, a Japanophile, and I love to learn about language(s). I enjoy making jewelry, using natural materials such as wood, bone, semiprecious stones, and seashells. I collect bookmarks and wind chimes.