Monday, January 29, 2007

Occasionally You Get Fooled

Occasionally you get fooled when experience suggests that what you can expect is for a parent not to show for a meeting. Or you can suspect a confrontational exchange in how the government school and every teacher has failed their innocent, precious child. I wondered which case it would be this morning? Or would it be a new scenario?

Mr. "Smith's" son is a junior in high school. A fine young man that was not always so fine. In prior schools he frequently initiated fights. Joshua is more then vaguely familiar with alternative schools having been sent away several times by beleaguered government schools attempting to control their environment.

This father showed for the behavior meeting ready to defend his son. Generally, defend would imply an adversary which was not the case. He defended his son because of love, caring, and compassion. He freely told of family difficulties such as a mother fighting her own demons, an older brother hopefully completing an incarceration of four years, and his son now in our high school trying to overcome temptations of being a teenage male. Joshua is not much different then any other teenager. He loves his girl, his car, and his saggin' pants. Perhaps not in that order. Joshua's father is more concerned that his son believe he was on the his side. It appeared he and his son have a long history of the boy doubting his father's support.

Mr. "Smith" loves his son. He politely defended him to the principal that had suspended the boy for three days from high school, "I've taught my son not to start a fight, but to defend himself if he is attacked."

The principal is also a self-ordained southern preacher and has slowly came to the belief that he can "save" students from themselves. However, it should be noted that only select students are worthy of being "saved". The principal will deem which are to be blessed. "I understand what you say, but he was involved in a fight. He should have made the decision to walk away after being hit.", the principal said, leaning back in his desk chair.

I watched more then listened to the exchange between the father and the principal/preacher. Mr. "Smith" wanted badly to be a hero in his son's eyes and the preacher absent-mindedly pushed the buttons on his desk phone appearing to be detached from the situation. Mr. "Smith" attempted to explain the relationship he was trying to repair with his 16-year-old-son before it was to late. The principal wanted to get to the homecoming pep rally.

I do not want the principal to appear in a bad light. He has put in over thirty years as a teacher and assistant principal, seeing his share of troubled students and troubled parents. He found a voice for his frustration in his religion, perhaps a voice speaking more to his own mortality then the needs of a student in a government school?

The meeting was a short one, only twenty minutes or so. Mr. "Smith" wanted to continue talking with me as I walked him to his car. He wanted me to know how much he loves his son struggling to find common ground for them to share, e.g., football, working on cars, going to drag races, and etc. All the things a man of the 60's and 70's excelled in and wanted to share with his son. He only had one request of me, "Could you please find a way to let my son know that I stood up for him?"

I reassured him of this and watched him drive off in the 60's muscle car that he was trying to restore with his son's help.

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