My son started third grade at a new school this year. He was at a Catholic school and now he’s at the Waldorf School of New Orleans.
Thanks to a teacher last year, and the gross failure of the school to do what was right, my son is scared of speaking up, scared of standing up for himself, scared of making a mistake, even scared of going to teachers for help. I highly doubt he’s the only student that was affected (actually I know for a fact he wasn’t because several families left the same year).
I’m PISSED someone was able and allowed to so negatively affect his psyche, at such a vulnerable time of his life. I’m PISSED this teacher KNEW his struggles with anxiety and yet proceeded to treat him in the same manner and even in one instance MOCKED him. And my son SAW her do it. What do you think my son felt when he saw a person he’s supposed to trust, feel safe with, who’s supposed to protect him, instead make fun of him for having been scared?
On another occasion, this same teacher told her second grade students they weren’t allowed to cry unless they were physically hurt. I found out about that when I took him to my therapy session and in the middle of it he said: “I’m not allowed to cry at school”. You can imagine the look of bewilderment on our faces. The therapist gently prodded, and he then shared what had happened in class.
Unfortunately, I could go on and on with examples of students not being treated the way they should.
Saying things like that and treating children in that way is DETRIMENTAL to their development. Any healthcare professional will tell you the same thing (and quite frankly you don’t have to be a professional to know that).
I’m PISSED that I SPOKE UP, met with the teacher and administration repeatedly, and they did NOTHING. She never apologized to him. And that was not lost on him.
This place was more than a school to us. This is our parish. My family has been going to this church and active members of the community for more than twenty years. Heck, we’ve been there longer than the current pastor! I grieved when I came to the realization that my children could not go there (my daughter was in Pre-K at the time and the plan had always been to enroll her there for Kindergarten. My kids were so excited to be at the same school.) They were not the people I thought they were; the school was not the place I thought it was. They failed my son. They failed me. I think I’m still bouncing around the different grief stages. (I’m in anger at this moment, can’t you tell?)
Why am I posting this now? Well, even though I know in my heart of hearts he’s where he’s supposed to be, no place is going to be perfect. And right now he’s having a hard time navigating relationships with his new classmates. And because of this, I’m now seeing the NEGATIVE EFFECTS that teacher and that school environment had on him.
Two nights ago he was telling me about something that happened in class with a student (nothing major, but to him, it’s like a knife through the heart; he’s very sensitive and has a big heart himself so he doesn’t understand when kids are mean for no reason). I asked him if he told the teacher, and he responded with (1) fear because he’s scared they’ll get mad at him, and (2) disillusionment, because he doesn’t think they’ll care or they’ll do what’s right and stand up for him. I wish I would’ve jotted down his exact words. They were loaded with those emotions. Fear and disillusionment. Because that’s what he experienced last year. That’s what he knows.
In that moment it clicked and my heart broke a little. I got down to his eye level, put my hands on his shoulders and told him, these teachers (the ones at Waldorf), they CARE about you! They WANT to hear from you. They WANT to know what you’re feeling. Oh the look in his eyes when I said that… it brings tears to mine as I write this.
With the sadness, anger quickly follows.
How dare that other teacher and other school do this to my son?! And a Catholic one at that?! The hypocrisy infuriates me.
But on to the acceptance…
As a Christian Catholic, I know I’m not alone. I’m not walking this alone. My son isn’t walking this alone. Through my faith and trust in God I am able to see why this is part of our journey. My son was not meant to stay at that school. He was not going to thrive nor reach his potential there (honestly I don’t think any child will in that environment. It’s a complete disservice to our children.) You may be thinking, why did God allow him to go there in the first place instead of somehow guiding me to the school where he’s currently so that we wouldn’t have had to go through all that? (I’ve asked myself and Him the same question.)
I think for various reasons, my son, me, and even my husband, we needed to experience what we did firsthand. Maybe we needed things to get so bad that leaving was the clear right thing to do. Maybe all of this is part of what my son needs to grow. I was bullied in grammar school. I had to change schools twice. I don’t want that to happen to my kids. I want them to have the confidence that I didn’t have at that age. Something I’ve learned in therapy is that in order to grow, you have to go through the discomfort, you can’t avoid it. So I think maybe, what he’s experiencing now, is an opportunity for him to go through the discomfort in order to grow. Not only grow as a person, but grow in his personal relationship with God. And finally, I believe my son went there for three years to give both of us the opportunity to make friendships that will last a lifetime. I know what it’s like to not have friends, even as an adult (sometimes I had friends but they were more my husband’s friends than mine, if you know what I mean). And I found some of the most amazing and genuine women I’ve ever met while there, and we’re still friends to this day. I thank God often for bringing them into my life. And they were all brought to me through that school.
So of course I, as a human, would prefer to not have had to go through any of that nor see my son go through what he did then and what he’s going through now, but I know that God has been with me every step of the way and He’ll never leave my side.
My son is now at Waldorf School of New Orleans, a place I can honestly say truly cares about child development and their well-being. Their entire curriculum is based on it! A place where the teachers BUILD UP their students, EMPOWER them, NURTURE them. In their information pamphlet they have a quote from a parent and ever since I read it, back when I was just looking at other schools, it was like it spoke to my soul, so I’d like to share it here with you:
“in traditional schools kids are taught how to conquer the world, but in a Waldorf School kids are taught how to save it.” – Sidney C.
Have you had to witness your child go through a struggle to then see him/her emerge from it stronger? I’d love to hear about it!
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