Mrs. Perfect-Pants and the School Seminar of Doom

I'm looking at putting my kid in a private school next year because frankly, public school, bless its stoic heart, has failed him. Or at least failed his totally non-linear brain. If you've read my blog for very long (or know me) you know that this kid is stinking hilarious and brilliant. And I am SO not biased. Nobody I know thinks the way he does. He makes amazingly mature and out of left field connections and has very adult reasoning. Except when it comes to how many chocolate chips to melt for his pre-dinner snack, and altering the lyrics to well-loved songs. Then he's completely warped.

So anyway, all of Littlest Dude's teachers to this point have said he's doing great. And while he could always be neater and spend more time on his work, I could totally back up their assessment based on the assignments he was bringing home. Then all of a sudden at the beginning of this past year his teacher was all "Um, your son's school work is falling apart. It's sub-par for his age, can't read his handwriting, doesn't have his basic facts, and sometimes just writes "I'm Sorry" and leaves it at that. But on the up side, his reading level is fabu. Especially Calvin and Hobbes.


How did he go from "Performing at or above grade-level" to "Remedial Boy" over the course of 3 short summer months? And how did I not know it? I'm a FREAKING STAY AT HOME MOM. I'm here when he does his homework. I sacrificed my life to be a FREAKING STAY AT HOME MOM. How did I fail my son?

(I think I'll just skip the self-flagellation at this point. I'm tired. And flagellation isn't nearly as fun as it looks.)

Now, in case you're wondering, nothing traumatic has happened in Little Dude's life. Except that I put a major limit on his access to media this year. But other than that, nope. 

So we decided to snag a tutor for him this summer, then try to test him into this pretty awesome private school a little ways from us. It is a high-achieving type of place and very focused on our American heritage, the Founding Fathers and Mothers, and our country's founding values. The kids there do great work, test well, and work in an environment that fosters a desire to learn and do one's best. Plus, they have the time (and money, because dang! these places are spendy!) to spend with individual students.

Well, the other day I attended a day-long seminar to introduce me to the school and its philosophies so that I am fully equipped should my son make it into their hallowed halls.

Holy Patriotic-Pursuit-of-Perfection, Batman! These people are crazy! I sat there listening to the teachers and parents who have students there, as well as former students, rhapsodizing about how this school changed their lives. They introduced us to the 4-R's — a major tenet of the school as it is a principle used by the Founding Fathers, and which stands for: Research, Reflect, Relate, and Record — then explained how the students end up using it in their every activity. Without even trying. We saw college-level research papers using this principle, written by fourth graders.

Fourth. Graders.

Dudes. I do not fit into that place. At my house the four R's are "Rest, Recreation, Rehabilitation, and Remorse." And if my kids' research papers have a title and an ending, I call it good. Ah, but it gets better. Check this out:

Everyone at the private school smiles. Like, permanently. They have recently memorized the Articles of Confederation and most of the Bill of Rights so they can teach it to their children, which, oh yeah, they already did last year so now they'd better memorize the Constitution and deToqueville's Democracy in America. Otherwise, whatever will their precious poppets have to do of a Saturday morning? (No lie. The guy sitting next to me totally did this.)

Also, their kids have been playing violin/cello/double-bass/viola/piano since they were twelve-months old (Again, no lie. The music teacher did this with her children. And they played for us. Something worthy of a Julliard graduate who has spent 20 years teaching at the Sorbonne.) 

I was feeling okay about it all though, believe it or not. Really I was. I mean, we're not that fabulous, but my kid is awesome and I know he'll work hard this summer. But then . . . 

I was dying of sleep deprivation mixed with thirst. I had gone to bed at 3 a.m. and then gotten up at 6:00 to take my huzz to the airport, barely making it back down to the meeting on time. Okay, not on time. I was an hour and 14 minutes late. Anyway, I was sitting there listening to weepy tales of how the third graders last year reinacted the sailing of the Mayflower and the deaths of all but 3 of the original Puritan child-bearing women, as well as their friendliness with the local indians, when I started nodding off. Badly. So, very quietly I reached into my bag, unzipped it, and withdrew a diet Coke. (Something which, by the way, most of the people around here don't drink — cola products being from the devil. But I needed the caffeine. My note-taking skills were being severely impacted.)

Carefully and stealthily–because there was a ginormous sign at the entrance politely begging us to refrain from eating or drinking in the beautifully appointed auditorium–I slipped the lid from its threads ever . . . so . . . gently.

And I guess there must have been some serious gas build-up in my coke as I drove back from the airport, because that baby EXPLODED across the room. I don't mean the liquid, because I had drunk about half of it on the way down. I mean the gas. EXPLODED. Rush Limbaugh and all the women of The View could not have been louder. We're talking a FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFTTTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!! of epic proportions. It reverberated and echoed into the dead silence of that room like Lou Gehrig's final speech in Pride of the Yankees.

The vacuum of sound that met me was so deafening one of my ears fell off. Then I got stares of shock, and there went one of my eyes.

I left before the seminar was over.

Because I knew their wrap-up would involve how they hoped we'd all feel welcomed and included at their school.

But I don't know if I can enroll my kid in a place that requires R's that have nothing to do with Rink Hockey, alongside kids that have never complained about taking piano, and with parents who've never accidentally let one rip in the middle of a meeting. And by "one" I mean a bottle of coke.

Sigh. But stink. I do like the idea of my kid being with other kids who totally want to be there. 

I guess we'll see what happens. In any case, I'm going to lobby for a coke machine in the, you know, lobby. It'll make the place a lot more human, and kinda Score One for the Regular Guy.

About Janiel 433 Articles
I have managed to keep the same husband for nearly three decades, and the same four children for almost that long - although one or two of them say it has been much longer. I have been writing since I learned to hold a pencil, and trying to make people laugh even longer. I hope to do some good in the world before I go the way of it. And if not, I'd better at least get to visit Ireland.


  1. What does said, “son”, think of this school? Ryan loves and is doing well with his new academy, but that will only last through 8th grade, then what? Of course those coke moments (all eyes on me) always happen to us, it’s in the genes. If it’s right it’ll fall together, inspite of your grand statement of your diet coke.

  2. Dude. I’m still laughing.

    The boy will love it there. And you, yourself have so much to offer that place. If you decide to do it, everything will work out. They will like you just the way you are.

  3. Oh, man. I’m sorry, but I’m laughing too! Robin’s right. It sounds like you and Littlest Dude are exactly what that place needs to shake things up. I’m sure the program is fabulous, but those people need to lighten up just a bit.

  4. Too funny. My seams are splitting. Needed a good laugh today and knew I could count on you to provide it. Thanks bunches.

    • Hey, you’re welcome. If exploding during a serious meeting at which my child’s entire future hangs in the balance makes you laugh, then my work here is done.

      Thanks for reading, Maleah. 🙂

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