the one where my readers put CPS on speed-dial

one of my facebook bros posted a link to this news story, along with some color commentary about how the teacher is guilty of child abuse. i read it, did a google search for it, read a few other related articles, & then strolled into the bedroom, where jared was working on his computer.

ciara: “jared? i have a parenting a question for you.”
jared: “oh, good. that means that if i don’t answer it right away, it’s not a big deal.” (hilarious, because i am still only about seven weeks pregnant.)
ciara: “so, hypothetically, let’s say our kid is born. & now it’s eight years old. & it’s the end of the school year & the kid’s teacher organizes a little awards ceremony & gives our kid an award for having the most excuses for not completing its homework. what would you think about that?”
jared: “where did the teacher get the award?”
ciara: “at the store. i don’t know. it’s just one of those teacher certificate things.”
jared: “they make certificates for that? it seems so specific.”
ciara: “yeah, i assume it’s a ceremony where each kids gets a specialized award for something about its personality or behavior or something.”
jared: “but that seems so specific to be printed on a certificate.”
ciara: “oh! no. dude. the teacher just bought blank certificates & wrote in the categories. i mean…duh. you’re ridiculous.”
jared: “oh, that makes a lot more sense.”
ciara: “so what would you think if our kid brought home this award?”
jared: “well, it would mean our kid wasn’t doing its homework.”
ciara: “i guess. probably.”
jared: “& going to school & lying about it.”
ciara: “i guess.”
jared: “& probably lying to us about it, because we would probably be asking if it had homework to do.”
ciara: “yeah, i guess.”
jared: “well, i wouldn’t be happy.”
ciara: “because of the award or…?”
jared: “about the lying! & the not doing the homework!”
ciara: “that’s it? you wouldn’t be worried that the award was, like, shaming the kid? or embarrassing it?”
jared: “i really feel that being ‘shamed’ by a certificate is ancillary to the larger problem, which is that our kid is a lying sneak.”
ciara: “would you do anything about it?”
jared: “yeah, i’d be instituting regular homework checks & letting the kid know that lying is not okay.”
ciara: “i mean, would you complain to the school at all?”
jared: “about what? about the fact that our kid is a liar?”
ciara: “about the award?”
jared: “you mean, would i complain to the school because it heckled our kid for bad behavior? no way! kids get made fun of in elementary school. it’s just…what happens in elementary school. if the worst thing that happens is that your teacher gently heckles you for being a liar, you’re getting off easy.”
ciara: “i guess it’s true that any kid that can’t handle getting heckled is no kid of ours. we heckle the cat like every day.”
jared: “i heckled her like ten minutes ago.”
ciara: “man, i am really relieved that we are going to be parenting this kid together. i totally agree with everything you said.”

maybe i am missing something, but i really don’t see anything wrong with this award. sounds to me like the mom was embarrassed that her kid got publicly busted for trying to weasel out of doing homework. my facebook bro was like, “what if the girl has learning disabilities & that’s why she’s not doing her homework? this teacher should be ashamed.” well, what if? wouldn’t it make an even more compelling “bullying teacher” narrative if the teacher was busting the chops of a kid with learning disabilities? you’d think the mom would have thrown that in while she was making a federal case about everything. i’m not sure how teachers are supposed to teach when they are expected to walk of eggshells around something as basic as trying to enforce the fact that homework is supposed to be completed & turned in. in the absence of any indemnifying evidence that this teacher was lashing out at only this one little girl & had constructed a whole elaborate shame ceremony, perhaps in which the teacher gave the other students rotten vegetables with which to pelt her, i’m gonna go ahead & say that i hope my kid has a teacher that feels comfortable joshing around like this when it gets born & starts going to school. if i wanted to raise a selfish, entitled, “look out for my delicate self-esteem” crybaby, i’d just unschool it & set it loose on tumblr for language arts class.

that reminded me of how last week i read this book about “organic parenting,” which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: surrounding your child with only the most organic of all materials, food, & life experiences. according to this book, everything off-gases. give your kid a plastic teething ring & you have only yourself to blame when your baby immediately develops eyebrow cancer or something. i was telling my therapist about this & i said, “so apparently, everything i do is going to give my baby prenatal autism or make it turn inside out or whatever.” she said, “oh my god! what illness would make your baby turn inside out?” i tried to explain, “oh, that’s just my go-to ‘something bad will happen to my baby’ thing, just because it’s so absurd, it makes me laugh,” but i was thinking, seriously, lady? you have two kids of your own, do you really think there’s seriously a condition out there that makes babies turn inside out?

anyway, my favorite part of this “organic baby” book was the sentence, “do you have a game plan for what you’ll do if your child starts running toward a play structure made of pressure-treated wood?” i guess the concern is that some pressure-treated wood contains traces of arsenic. so i guess my game plan would be to NOT hand my child a knife & fork & call the guinness folks over because my kid is going to attempt to set a world record in pressure-treated wooden play structure-eating? otherwise, i’m not real worried. i mean, cory dollaganger in flowers in the attic had to eat a shitload of donuts powdered with arsenic before he finally snuffed it. i don’t think a good solid lick of the play structure is going to have much impact. & this is why i continue to read terrible books: there is usually some funny buried in the terrible, somewhere.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Zel says:

    Holy shit. What is wrong with people? Pressure-treated wood? At the same time, this makes me want to read and mock organic parenting books. Curious about what you think of attachment parenting books. Although maybe that’s a minefield you don’t care to walk on. Am I allowed to say minefield? Should I have put a trigger warning for the organic babies reading this on their organic iPads?

    Just curious: Was the entire book production process “organic”? I am guessing not, and I am guessing that the author will be sued for causing cuticle cancer in readers.

    1. ciara says:

      i don’t really care if the book was produced “organically” or not. i am also not going to pretend that i have read a huge selection of attachment parenting books (yet–i do have some on hold at the library), nor do i want to say, “this is how i will parent” before the kid is even born. the best of intentions might not actually play in reality.

      but for now, i do intend to adopt at least some attachment parenting elements. i want to breastfeed for as long as possible, i intend to cloth diaper (because it’s more environmentally-friendly & supposedly it helps the kid potty train faster), i’ll probably check out some slings & see if baby-wearing makes sense for me & the baby, i’m definitely planning to co-sleep…

      i think attachment parenting has an unfairly bad rap in some circles because it has some acolytes that are really obnoxious with the proselytizing. i have my own theories about what is “best” for babies (for example, i do think breast milk beats the pants off formula as far as good nutrition & immune-boosting antibodies go), but i also recognize that what works for one parent doesn’t necessarily work for another. i don’t have to worry about going back to work, which frees me up to commit in advance to just hanging out with the baby & attending to its needs on a child-based schedule. this is what i want to do & i think the kid will like it too, but if other people can’t do that, or don’t want to do that, that’s fine. different strokes for different folks.

      one thing i definitely want to be on the look-out for as a mom is the constant pressure to judge other parents for doing things differently. doing things differently is so often seen as doing things wrong, which is like 99% straight bullshit. i see it as kind of a continuation of trying not to lay a girl hate trip on other ladies. if i’m not going to rise to the challenge of rumbling with my boyfriend’s ex when she tries to insinuate that they have a secret romance going (that actually happened once! it was so weird), i’m not going to start condemning other parents for bottlefeeding or for letting their kid eat beef jerky or whatever. as a woman in general, but perhaps especially as a pregnant lady & a new mom, there is always someone standing there, waiting to judge & condemn every move you make. i don’t want to be that judging, condemning person. i just want to hang out with my baby & see the humor in this whole enterprise.

  2. Leah Wallace says:

    I am calling CPS because you are using Flowers in the Attic as a reference for your parenting techniques, and I want to nip it in the bud before you start hiding your children in secret rooms until they are pale and incestuous.

    1. ciara says:

      i’m not using it as a reference; i’m just saying that “flowers in the attic” taught me that you have to eat kind of a lot of arsenic before you really need to worry about dying. a simple lick of a pressure-treated woodn playing structure probably won’t do the trick. & i’m probably only going to have one kid, so it’s going to have to really work at having at incestuous relationship with its siblings. it’s going to have to be a multiple system/fictivekin clusterfuck, & you know that if my kid starts talking about being a multiple system fictivekin, it’s going straight into the attic.

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