Thursday, August 30, 2012

Principal says School Secretary Not Authorized to Withhold My Son


Monday was an exercise in patience and control for me. I went to my son’s school to pick him up early and was told the school would not release him to me. It was an emotional day, to be sure, chronicled in my previous post.

I met with the principal regarding the treatment I received and she assured me that no instruction was given to the office staff to withhold students. In fact, because of the weather, several parents picked their children up from school early. The principal informed me that she was monitoring the weather, but had not declared a code for emergency procedures. She was baffled as to why the secretary would not allow me to have my son.

She said to me the magic words, “At no time can the office staff keep a parent from retrieving their child. In fact, the administration can’t even do that. The parent is the final say.”

Music to my ears.

She assured me she would address this with the employee in question and follow up with me. She thanked me for making her aware of the issue and told me she is constantly striving for excellence in all areas of her school. Then she metaphorically patted me on the head and handed me my blankie before she sent me on my way.

Man, she’s good.

I left feeling pretty much like I thought I would – unsatisfied yet quieted. I re-hashed my story to her three times, and she patiently listened to each rendition. She identified with my feelings, being a parent herself and promised me this would not happen again.

During the altercation on Monday, I was angry. So angry in fact, that to speak was to scream. I was panicked that I could not get to my son, yet I reminded myself that he was safe. To storm the classroom would only cause unnecessary drama, possibly revoke my volunteering privileges and embarrass my son in the meantime. Every part of me wanted to kick the door open and swoop in for my baby. My heart was hammering and hands were shaking. I was in protective mode and how I managed to keep my cool, I’ll never know. Those who know me know I don’t have an issue with speaking up.

When he was finally released, the secretary would not allow Sam to get his backpack. All week we had to double up on homework to make up for the homework he missed on Monday night. Sam suffered for her ego and I let the principal know that, too.

The whole thing is complete bullshit.

So, at the end of this ridiculous adventure, I’m left feeling empty. I did what I could, but nothing can get back the time I spent furious and panicked. No amount of “talking to” will rid me of the pit I had in my stomach when Sam scrambled out of bed at 9:15pm, “Mom! I didn’t do my homework!”

No son you didn’t. The mean lady in the office made sure of that.

Do I want to see her fired? Not really. Would I like an apology? You betcha. Will I ever let this happen again? Hell no.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Public School holds children hostage



My son cried as he got of the car today. He said his tummy hurt and asked his dad for our phone numbers in case he needed to call. Sam suffers from abdominal migraines, so at 10:30am I decided to drive up to the school to pick him up.

I arrived in the front office, said hello to the receptionist and told her I’d like to pick my son up from school. She called the teacher and asked, “How is Sam feeling?” She hung up the phone and said to me, “He’s fine,” and turned in her chair and continued about her work.

Slightly taken aback, I said, “I’d like to pick him up anyway because I know he wouldn’t tell the teacher if he wasn’t feeling well.”

She looked at me and gave me a flat, “No.”

“No? B-but I’m his mother.” I stammered.

“There is a tornado warning so we won’t let you have him.”


Those words echoed around in my head and I could feel the bile rise up in my stomach. The protective instinct in a mother is strong. I knew my son needed me and I wanted him NOW.

“I can’t pick my son up because of a tornado warning? Is it a warning or a watch?”

“It’s a warning, that’s why they won’t let the kids out of the classroom.” She again dismissed me without further explanation.

Deep breath, Shannon…

“How long is the tornado warning in effect?”

“Until 11:30 or so.”

She picked up the walkie talkie and squawked into it. She was through with me. She didn’t even glance up at me, a bewildered mother, standing at the counter.

With shaking hands, I picked up my umbrella and walked out of the office. It took every ounce of control to stay calm.

Being told I was not allowed to have my child incited a bolt of panic in me. I am HIS MOTHER, for crying out loud. I make the decisions for him. I decide if he is too sick to stay in school. I decide if the weather is too poor for my child to venture outdoors. I am the ultimate authority regarding his health and well being. I’ll be damned if a dismissive woman is going to tell me I can’t have my kid!

I sat in my car and tried to steady my shaking hands. I took several deep breaths and picked up my iPhone to check the weather. The tornado warning expired at 11:14am. I sat in the parking lot of my child’s school, watching the clock and watching children line up outside under the breezeway. The time was 11:12am. The weather conditions were so treacherous that a mother was not allowed to take her child home, yet twenty students lined up outside for lunch. Unbelievable.

How could this be? How could I be denied access to my own kid and watch an obvious breach of policy right outside the office doors?

I understand there are county-wide policies regarding poor weather conditions. I don’t agree with them necessarily, but I know better than to argue my point with the receptionist at the school office. I understand that if I feel strongly against the school policy, I can take it up with the school board or send my kid to private school. I get that.

What I DON’T get is the dismissive treatment I received in the school office today. My child is a first grader, so it is not far-fetched to believe that I may not be apprised of the weather policy. I may not be aware that certain weather conditions keep the school from releasing the child to their parent. (Whether or not I agree with such a policy is irrelevant at this point.)

I DON’T get how this person can refuse me access to my child and dismiss me like an unruly adolescent. I wasn’t offered an explanation or an alternative solution. No parent deserves to be treated like that. I did not drive to the school to ASK PERMISSION to see my child. I did not ask the receptionist to assess my child’s wellbeing via a 10-second conversation over the intercom. I came to take my child home. I am his mother. It is my right.

I waited until the tornado warning had passed, I collected myself and I walked back into the office. I approached the counter, set my driver’s license down and said, “I’m here to pick up my son.”

I received several sideways glances and was told to have a seat. A few minutes later, the receptionist walked around the corner and called from the hallway, “Here’s your son, but he can’t have his backpack. It’s raining too bad to have two other students walk the hallways with him.”

Sam came to me and started crying. He didn’t feel well.

The administrators would not allow me to walk my child to his classroom to get his backpack. I am registered with the county and I frequently volunteer my time at this school. Sam has homework due tomorrow. Unbelievable. Again.

I put my arm around my crying son and walked to the car. I did not press the issue in front of Sam. I just wanted to get him home. Home, where he belongs when he isn’t feeling well.

I am livid.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Top 7 ways to survive car line

car line

Does this look familiar?  Do you spend each weekday afternoon stuck in the dreaded car line?  Don’t fret, I’ve come up with seven sure-fire ways to spice up your afternoon car time


1. Sort socks.  This is the most time consuming part of laundry, especially if your husband wears work socks with tiny designs.  Are those green diamonds or dots? Why the hell can’t ANYONE turn their socks right side out?  Where did the match for this go? I just saw it!  Sock sorting is like a game of Memory.  If you do it in car line, you’ll shorten your to-do list AND sharpen your mind!

laundry-basket of socks


2.  Exercise.  Parents know how hard it is to fit in exercise, especially when we spend one third of our day playing Mom-Taxi.  Do walking lunges around your car or some box jumps onto the hood.  Hold a folded stroller over your head and do squats.  And don’t forget your Kegels!  Or just dead lift your car!  Your buns will rise like a cake!



3.  Sing.  Time to brush up on a little karaoke?  Want to shout out some explicit Eminem lyrics, but always have to consider “the little ears?”  Turn up the volume and wail.  You’ll feel better if you do.



4. Make money.  Bring some suds in the bucket and shine tires for two bucks a pop.  You don’t have to be homeless to wash windshields!  Everyone will think you’re so industrious and they’ll just love the friendly service!

car wash


5.  Pick your nose.  Go ahead, clean the pipes.  Make sure you have tinted windows in your car, and for the love of God, have a tissue handy. 

Nose picker


6. Start a Slow Clap.  When the kids start loading into their cars, open your door, stand up and start a slow clap.  Really put your arms into it - clap loud!  Clap proud!  Soon others will join in while you applaud the children who can buckle their own seat belts!     

buckling seatbelt


7.  Enjoy the silence.  If you’re alone, this may be the only time ALL DAMN DAY you don’t have to listen to anything.  Stare off into space and zone out.  Let your mind wander.  Use this time as a sort of meditation.  Ponder how the hell you got here with your pony tail and capris when it seemed like yesterday you were stomping in the club with your half-shirt and JNCO jeans.  The deep reflection will clear your mind, or depress you.  Either way, you’ll at least have thought your own thoughts for a few minutes.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

How shared custody kills parenting momentum

It sure is hard to keep my parenting momentum going when our week is cut short by the divorce custody schedule. I start each week with gusto, and fall into a steady rhythm of homework, after-school activities and family dinners. Yet each week, I am cut short like a fingernail snipped past the quick. It leaves me feeling tender and exposed. I have yet to find my end-of-the-week groove. When the boys are at their dad’s, I lose my parental footing and often fall short of my mom duties.

I am notoriously bad at signing my name on the “Items needed” list for school functions. I drop my kids off the first part of the week, but never on a Thursday or Friday. Therefore if I sign up to bring in juice boxes on Friday, I am hard pressed to remember – especially because I don’t have my kids with me. Often times I find the signup sheet filled before I get a chance to help. Again, the custody schedule is to blame – or maybe it’s me not adjusting well.

I feel as though I have to squeeze a week’s worth of work into three days. If I decide Sam and I need to work on his “S-words” for his lisp, I have to remember to get it in before he leaves for Dad’s on Wednesday night. If Max needs to bring in a family picture by Friday, I have to remember to bring it by Wednesday morning. My entire life I’ve worked from a 5-day school/work week and in the past year and a half, it has been cut to three.

I’m not adjusting well.

Moving forward, I need to readjust my thinking and train my brain to know my “Kid-week” ends on Wednesday. I need to remind myself that I have a mid-week deadline for all things school related. I have to be a couple days ahead of the game or else I’m liable to forget entirely.

Does anyone else struggle with this same dilemma? If so, how do you deal with it?