Top Twelve Reasons I Should Have Pulled My Kid Out of Public School

 

It is as sport to a fool to do mischief: but a man of understanding hath wisdom. ~Proverbs 10:23, KJV 

No, it wasn’t all the school’s fault. This post is not about those controversial public institutions. I would say my daughter and the K-8 school shared this blame, maybe 70-30.  And I wouldn’t claim I was completely ignorant, either, knowing my daughter had a long daily bus ride, mostly unnecessary, and hearing a few leaked stories that should have gotten my mom radar beeping more loudly.

But now that my daughter is 22, she freely tells me what went on in the aisles, corridors, closets, and bathrooms during her school experience. Recently, for instance, I discovered that in a mid-elementary quest to acquire glasses, she wore her friend’s prescription during class. “What?! For an hour or two?”  was my horrified response. “Um, no, maybe like two or three months.”  And the teacher didn’t notice this?

Annika has nothing to lose in the telling–I can’t pull her out in retrospect. I blanch, I guffaw, but also make pronouncements of what I would have done had I but known what she was up to.  The #1 reason, below, demonstrates how good it would have been to at the very least drive her to school and have some edifying mother-daughter time in the car instead of allowing the shenanigans that went on during the commute.

Note: Her name, photo, and details about her life are used with her full permission and blessing.

#12. Asking for candy and money. So it turns out that during early elementary, that little stinker Annika and her friend M. had a custom of going around to older students bugging them for candy and change. I believe at one point, I heard rumors about this behavior and sternly forbade it, but apparently it didn’t do much good. The change was for the vending machine; there were goodies like pop tarts and chips that these two felt were more important than their dignity.

#11. Scorpion. My kid would come home with gouges in her hand. Upon inquiry, it turned out she was playing a “game” on the bus where the players would dig their nails into each other’s hands and see who could stand it the longest. I had a serious talk with my daughter, telling her that she would have permanent scars (she does) that she would regret (she doesn’t). She was never to play this game again (she did).

#10. Eating L.’s Breakfast. Turns out that Annika’s bowl of frosted shredded wheat around the breakfast table wasn’t enough for her. No, every morning her friend L. would pass on having the government-provided breakfast she qualified for, and Annika would happily volunteer to eat it.  The meal included items I would only give my daughters were there no alternatives: muffins, “fruit,” and that sweet yogurt in little tubes, for instance.

#9. The Fairy Stage. This is not what it sounds like. In third and fourth grade, Annika went through a wholesome, although self-conscious, obsession with fairies of cultural lore fed by popular book and movie franchises. This led to her signing her name as “Tinkerbell” on the bathroom sign-out sheet and complaining to the teacher that the boys kept changing her handle to “Stinkerbell.” The teacher blandly suggested that she write “Annika” and went back to her work. My daughter also told a sub that she had been named after that popular Disney fairy, and got away with it. She was pleased when she heard a boy describe her to someone else as “that girl who’s really into fairies.”

#8. The Boys’ Bathroom Club. During Annika’s successful but short-lived career on a jump rope team, she was the founder and leader of an informal organization that ran around the empty hallways after school and investigated the boys’ bathrooms. She somehow had the opportunity to conduct club activities during practice, when I blissfully imagined she was hard at work honing her fancy moves. (I resigned her from the jump rope team because her grades were tanking.)

#7. Truth or Dare. In the context of this classic game passed down from one generation to the next, it makes total sense why your kid would lick the floor of the bus and eat a bug. Right? You haven’t really lived until you’ve done something gross with your peers. But if that’s the standard, Annika’s got us all beat.

#6. The Lunch Debt. Annika had a marvelous year in first grade, with a teacher who played guitar and called worksheets “fun packets.” Yet we couldn’t understand why we kept getting bills from the cafeteria. Turns out our daughter was raising her hand during morning housekeeping when asked who was getting hot lunch. I mean, who wouldn’t favor a noontime repast in the school cafeteria instead of a cold sandwich and an apple lovingly packed by your mother at home? If it’s as easy as signaling with a lift of a hand, I’d do it, too. Anyone would think we didn’t feed our child.

#5. Band Wedding. This is a little strange and hard to describe, but the kids had a quirky music teacher who finally gave in to their pleas to stage a little wedding ceremony during junior high band class.  They identified the lucky bride and groom, who had a crush on each other (it was a traditional event) and classmates who would be standing up for the couple. Annika was a maid of honor, and the teacher provided accompaniment on his trumpet.

#4. Band Closet. Same band teacher, same class—interestingly named Advanced Band. Annika and her buddy decided to try hiding in the closet to find out whether or not they would be missed during class. They were not.

#3. Disastrous Locker. Eighth-grader places an unopened carton of milk in the locker. A helpful individual at some point walks by and secures the locker with an unfamiliar lock. Eighth grader discovers she cannot get her locker open. Oh well. Time elapses. Sweet classmate starts noticing the odor. Commenting on it: “There’s a really bad smell near my locker.” Janitor is summoned. He cuts the lock off, the milk is discarded, and everyone is happy. Except for the taxpayer.

#2. Hallway ElectivesAt some point in eighth grade English, both my daughters, two years apart, made the decision to stop completing the vocabulary exercises, opting to save their energy for the weekly quiz. The teacher, nearing retirement, sent empty-handed students out to the hallway while assignment answers were being checked. Apparently this unstructured time with friends was great fun. And what would you do if you had a few minutes with your peers? Chat? Make paper airplanes? Or block one nostril and snort up ramen seasoning from the back of your hand? For Annika, it was ramen powder all the way.

And the #1 reason why I should have pulled my kid out of school . . .  The Daily Bus Beverage. I have so many questions, mostly why.  Why did that girl on the bus (the bride from #5) even possess an expensive Monster drink every morning? Why did she give it to Annika? Why did my eighth grader choose to imbibe?  Fortunately, Annika was never very sensitive to caffeine, and she appears to have suffered no ill effects from her habit.

I write this as my college grad is in bed early once again to get up before dawn and work hard at her job, after a weekend of chummily assisting me with tasks, laughing at the dinner table, cleaning in the basement, and solicitously serving me when I was ill.

She’ll be alright.

I would like to claim that this picture represents Annika’s aspirations to be a doctor, but we believe she was still really into fairies at this point. 

Older elementary. Soon she’d be embarking on the “have a little ramen powder—it won’t hurt you” stage.

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There are 18 comments.

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  1. sawatdeeka Member
    sawatdeeka
    @sawatdeeka

    Here is documentation of her thoughts, dreams, and loves at age ten. This is a “Tidbits” section at the back of her planner that she probably filled in during class. Of course she did. Am I being too cynical?

    She was going through an ER fascination (not my idea of children’s programming) which explains some of the content here. George Clooney was her inspiration for career choice.

    • #1
  2. GlennAmurgis Coolidge
    GlennAmurgis
    @GlennAmurgis

    On #11- we played a card game called “Bloody knuckles” which had the winner was able to take the deck of cards and use it to hammer on the knuckles of the losers of the game. The number of strikes was based on the total value of the cards left in hand. 

    • #2
  3. Chris O Coolidge
    Chris O
    @ChrisO

    Ramen spice? For us it was Pixie Stix. The effect? Just an awful sinus feel. Maybe happened twice before we set that aside for good.

    • #3
  4. sawatdeeka Member
    sawatdeeka
    @sawatdeeka

    Chris O (View Comment):

    Ramen spice? For us it was Pixie Stix. The effect? Just an awful sinus feel. Maybe happened twice before we set that aside for good.

    Yeah, yecchh!  And the sinus feel would have been worse with ramen powder. 

    • #4
  5. sawatdeeka Member
    sawatdeeka
    @sawatdeeka

    GlennAmurgis (View Comment):

    On #11- we played a card game called “Bloody knuckles” which had the winner was able to take the deck of cards and use it to hammer on the knuckles of the losers of the game. The number of strikes was based on the total value of the cards left in hand.

    Kids. SMH. Especially boys, who more than girls seem to have an excessive amount of energy to burn. Maybe all our kids could benefit from more chores?  “Hammer on the knuckles.”  Ha, ha. 

    • #5
  6. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Chris O (View Comment):

    Ramen spice? For us it was Pixie Stix. The effect? Just an awful sinus feel. Maybe happened twice before we set that aside for good.

    I worked with a couple of guys in their late twenties who would dare each other to snort whatever was on the table at a bar/restaurant.  Parmesan cheese was one thing, but I really never thought I would see someone snort crushed red pepper flakes.

    • #6
  7. Chris O Coolidge
    Chris O
    @ChrisO

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Chris O (View Comment):

    Ramen spice? For us it was Pixie Stix. The effect? Just an awful sinus feel. Maybe happened twice before we set that aside for good.

    I worked with a couple of guys in their late twenties who would dare each other to snort whatever was on the table at a bar/restaurant. Parmesan cheese was one thing, but I really never thought I would see someone snort crushed red pepper flakes.

    Probably keeps your sinuses open for a good few weeks.

    • #7
  8. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    I am happy she reads the Bible as it seems like her life is incredibly mild. 

    • #8
  9. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Annika sounds like a good kid. Decades later, I’m actually ashamed of some of the things I got up to. I bet you were a great Mom.

    • #9
  10. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane
    @LoisLane

    I haven’t read anything on Ricochet for awhile, but your daughter could inspire you to become a new sort of Beverly Cleary!  I loved your summary.  I wonder if the “married” kids managed to still date in high school, but I totally get pretending to be a fairy.  At least she didn’t jump off the roof of a house like my mother-in-law said my husband once did when he was a kid going through his “superman” phase….  

    • #10
  11. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Barfly (View Comment):

    Annika sounds like a good kid. Decades later, I’m actually ashamed of some of the things I got up to. I bet you were a great Mom.

    No homemade explosives? That’s no way to get into trouble!

    • #11
  12. Bishop Wash Member
    Bishop Wash
    @BishopWash

    GlennAmurgis (View Comment):

    On #11- we played a card game called “Bloody knuckles” which had the winner was able to take the deck of cards and use it to hammer on the knuckles of the losers of the game. The number of strikes was based on the total value of the cards left in hand.

    What we called “bloody knuckles” was where two players touched fists. Then one player would try to rap the other person’s knuckles. You couldn’t pull away too soon or the other kept going. If you missed, the roles swapped and the other person tried to hit. I doubt it left any scars unlike her game.

    • #12
  13. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Percival (View Comment):

    Barfly (View Comment):

    Annika sounds like a good kid. Decades later, I’m actually ashamed of some of the things I got up to. I bet you were a great Mom.

    No homemade explosives? That’s no way to get into trouble!

    OMG, I didn’t think it would be that loud.

    • #13
  14. sawatdeeka Member
    sawatdeeka
    @sawatdeeka

    Barfly (View Comment):

    Annika sounds like a good kid. Decades later, I’m actually ashamed of some of the things I got up to. I bet you were a great Mom.

    Yes, @barfly after I wrote this I started to feel weighed down by how neglectful and paralyzed I seemed. Later, though, it occurred to me that it could have been much worse. She could have taken drugs, experimented with alchohol, etc. I’m so thankful to be through those years. Maybe no matter what I did, I would have had challenges. 

    • #14
  15. sawatdeeka Member
    sawatdeeka
    @sawatdeeka

    Lois Lane (View Comment):

    I haven’t read anything on Ricochet for awhile, but your daughter could inspire you to become a new sort of Beverly Cleary! I loved your summary. I wonder if the “married” kids managed to still date in high school, but I totally get pretending to be a fairy. At least she didn’t jump off the roof of a house like my mother-in-law said my husband once did when he was a kid going through his “superman” phase….

    @loislane I’m so glad you enjoyed it!  Yes, I think boys in general do more squirrely things than girls do. My husband was a frequent flier in the ER when he was a kid. 

    • #15
  16. sawatdeeka Member
    sawatdeeka
    @sawatdeeka

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):

    GlennAmurgis (View Comment):

    On #11- we played a card game called “Bloody knuckles” which had the winner was able to take the deck of cards and use it to hammer on the knuckles of the losers of the game. The number of strikes was based on the total value of the cards left in hand.

    What we called “bloody knuckles” was where two players touched fists. Then one player would try to rap the other person’s knuckles. You couldn’t pull away too soon or the other kept going. If you missed, the roles swapped and the other person tried to hit. I doubt it left any scars unlike her game.

    @bishopwash  Yeah, I bet your bloody knuckles was a great way to spend your time, in contrast to scorpion.   ;-)  

    • #16
  17. sawatdeeka Member
    sawatdeeka
    @sawatdeeka

    Percival (View Comment):

    Barfly (View Comment):

    Annika sounds like a good kid. Decades later, I’m actually ashamed of some of the things I got up to. I bet you were a great Mom.

    No homemade explosives? That’s no way to get into trouble!

    @percival My husband got into a great deal of trouble as a fourth grader when he figured out how to do something with a pen that involved fire/smoke(?) in the restroom. 

    • #17
  18. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    sawatdeeka (View Comment):

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):

    GlennAmurgis (View Comment):

    On #11- we played a card game called “Bloody knuckles” which had the winner was able to take the deck of cards and use it to hammer on the knuckles of the losers of the game. The number of strikes was based on the total value of the cards left in hand.

    What we called “bloody knuckles” was where two players touched fists. Then one player would try to rap the other person’s knuckles. You couldn’t pull away too soon or the other kept going. If you missed, the roles swapped and the other person tried to hit. I doubt it left any scars unlike her game.

    @ bishopwash Yeah, I bet your bloody knuckles was a great way to spend your time, in contrast to scorpion. ;-)

    I went to a rough high school. Everyone hyped up drugs and alcohol, and sex and graffiti. 

    Bloody knuckles is pretty mild.

    • #18
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