(Hey - look, it's me posting to my blog just a couple of days after posting to my blog - HOLY COW! I'd better be careful - if I do this again in the next few days - it could create pattern that might be difficult for me to maintain and then I'll get depressed because I can't live up to the standard I've irrationally placed upon myself whereupon I'll become obsessed with thinking about the fact that I'm not living up to that ridiculous 'must post, must post' ideal so I simply won't post at all. Yeah, it's a convoluted way of thinking but then again - writers are a weird lot, are they not?)
Where are my manners...
Nice of you to drop by my little spot in the blogoverse even if it is only to figure out what in the world the title of this post means. (Is this the 'excuse' alluded to in the previous - albeit cryptic - post from a couple of days ago? Or is it something wholly different? A red herring so to say...)
Actually it's NEITHER of those things - even though it does deal with 'excuses'
You see, yesterday evening my husband walked into our bedroom and said, 'This is weird.'
So I said, 'What?' (After all, he had me at 'weird')
Then he proceeded to tell me that we'd received a letter from our daughter's high school about her having 'excessive excused absences'. In fact, in great big bold across the top of the letter it says:
EXCESSIVE EXCUSED ABSENCE NOTIFICATION (EEA1)
Cue the ominous music. Incidentally - if this is the EEA1 form that means there must be an EEA2 form, right? Seriously?
But I digress...
Notice that the title of this particular informative message from my daughter who is 17 years old and will be graduating in June, deals with excessive EXCUSED absences. That's right.
I'm talking about the kind of absences where you have to 'explain to your boss why you can't come in to work because your kid is sick and has to go to the doctor to make sure they don't have the plague or something like that' sort of excuses.
Yes, these are the excuses where your boss looks at you like 'again?' as if their kid has never gotten sick although you KNOW that they do because you've seen them dashing around the office trying to get their crap together so they can haul a$$ across town to pick up their kid from school and take them to the doctor. Yes, it's THAT sort of excused absence - not the kind where dad writes a note saying, 'My kid was sick. I kept him home. Deal with it.'
Of course, odds are likely when your kid is sick - it just HAPPENS - there's no early warning symptom... rather, they vomit - you react. And if your doctor's office is like mine, you can't get your kid in to see the doctor, so you wind up going to an urgent care facility because he has a temperature or she has snot running down her face or something else running out of another part of their adorable, youthful form.
Now, if you're lucky - you've got insurance which will cover those medical visits - especially the ones to the quick care places - because when you walk into the waiting room of one of those 'urgent care' facilities and you spot what you think is a $5 poster of Claude Monet's 'Water Lilies' only to learn that it's a numbered lithograph - you can almost hear the people at Citibank going 'cha-ching!'
And even though it's technically just a 'copy' of the piece, it's a damn fine copy and you know that your visit will probably be used to help pay for whatever is in that one little room in the back of the facility that no one ever enters...
Again, I'm veering from center...
The gist of it is - you went out of your way to take your cherished little angel to the doctor not just because you want him to feel better but also because you don't want to have to put up with that annoying lady who works at the front office (or wherever it might be) of your child's school because you weren't a good enough parent to take them to the doctor to get a doctor's note!
Geez, I must be REALLY old because I remember when, if you had a note from a doctor upon your return to school, it meant you'd either been dealing with a nasty case of something like tuberculosis or streptococcus pyogenes or one of those diseases that's so bad it's got an 'A', 'B', 'C', etc... after it. OR you had to have broken a bone - but not just any old bone - no - it had to be one that made you 'incapable of doing simple things' like going to the bathroom by yourself.
After all it's pretty damn easy to go tinkle if you broke or, God forbid, lost your pinky toe in a horrible farming incident - but break your leg or your arm and it's not so easy to use the facilities folks - not so easy indeed. Especially for guys - they've got extra equipment to deal with and somehow I imagine it's not so easy to call out to your mother - after that tragic incident with the hay baler - and say 'Hey, Mom, could you please...um...uh...help me go potty?' For girls - meh, not so bad - but guys...that's harsh. Harsh. And when mom goes 'You just do you thing, honey. I'll wait right here for you' that has got to be unbearable.
Sorry, did it again...
As I was saying before my mind went on a tripp to Weirdville - there was a time when mom and dad could write a note saying 'Please excuse absence of the eldest fruit of the Smith family loins because she had a fever yesterday. Thanks.'
Short, sweet, and to the point.
That was during a time when people believed people. Especially where I grew up. Because we had - Mrs. Gilreath, the lady at my high school's front desk. She would give some of the rule-breaking kids 'the eye' and dress them down after reading their parent's note as if she was waiting for them to break under her scrutiny. Then she'd smile and say, "Hope you're feeling better, Jimmy. Can't wait to see your grandma at Bible study on Wednesday."
Geez...Wednesday night Bible study - the small town southern child's lie detector. And it wasn't because Jesus had anything to do with it. Nope. Somehow Mrs. Gilreath knew every freaking person in my home town and apparently wanted to make sure she got into Heaven because somehow she was able to attend every Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, and Pentacostal Bible study in all of the greater Northwest Cabarrus area. Heck, she might have even crashed the synagogue about 20 miles north of our county!
Getting back to MY situation with MY daughter in the here and now...
So, we get this message and I'm looking at the dates and I'm like okay this one was for a sinus infection, that was for cedar fever*, that one was the flu (we both had it), that one was for a weird stomach virus, oh and that was a few weeks after she had her gall bladder removed and ... wait ... hold on ... that day was her 'College visit' and ... damn it ... this one was for her audition to get into the music school!
Needless to say - I was ... upset. Yes, that's the word. I was upset because upon her return to school the next day, my daughter had taken proof FROM THE COLLEGES IN QUESTION and signed by OFFICIALS FROM THE COLLEGES IN QUESTION and yet, they weren't considered 'school recognized events'
You know - it's that thing where if your kid is in the marching band and they go on a trip to Disney World for 3 days - it's like they didn't miss any school at all - because it was a 'school function' with 'educational merit'. Yeah - right. I'm sure standing in Aerial's Grotto taking selfies is ever-so-educational!
But in this case - she really was doing sh!t that was educational! It's a major step in one's f'ing educational process to go and visit a college or university knowing that in a few months time - you'll be leaving home to essentially start a damn new life as a grown up away from mom and dad and your fish and your cat and...
So in response to this letter, I did what I do best - I wrote a letter back. An email, really. A very detailed email. And I did NOT once veer left of center in my message.
Basically it was message pointing out that I was displeased. GREATLY DISPLEASED.
Not because they'd sent a message saying nicely, 'Hey, just a heads up - your daughter has missed a lot of days of school. Yes, we know they're all excused for medical reasons and it looks like there are a couple here from colleges but we just don't want her to fall below the 'required number of hours' a child has to be physically on school grounds. Her grades are great and it's not a disciplinary issue - it's just a technicality.'
Now if they'd sent something like that, I'd have been all 'chill' with the whole issue.
But they didn't. Nope. It was more like 'YOU - YES YOU SITTING THERE READING THIS ALL COMFORTABLE AND COZY IN YOUR PAJAMAS. YOUR CHILD IS ON THE VERGE OF ULTIMATE FAILURE IN LIFE BECAUSE SHE HAS MISSED 1 DAY EACH MONTH! MY GOD PEOPLE - HOW COULD YOU HAVE LET THINGS GET TO THIS POINT.'
And all I could think was 'What the F...is a lovely letter that comes at the front of so many expressive terms!'
So after I sent my very well worded email to the school - I got a pleasant (excessively pleasant) call at 9:10 in the morning from my daughter's Assistant Principal - which lasted until 9:28. And he was all like - 'That's just letter we send out when students hit a certain number of absences and it bears no reflection on Jessica. I see here she's got great grades and really it's just a technicality.'
Then I asked about the college visit issue - you know, the absences that should be reflected just like the marching band's trip to Disney World. Essentially, it's a Jedi mind trick among educators. 'The children who are not here have all gone to the bathroom...'
I explained the situation with college #1 and he said, "I understand. I'll have them recode that one." Then I explained the situation with college #2 (it was her audition to get into the music program for voice and classical guitar). I explained how she had to miss Friday so we could make the 4.5 hour trip to the university and she could get a good night's sleep before her audition. I then explained how it started to snow and ice and a trip that should've taken about 5 hours (if you stopped to get food) took nearly 7 hours without a stop because the roads were so treacherous ... we could not stop. We got to our hotel at about 9:30PM.
Then I said, 'She got her audition itinerary signed by the TA who was in the room for her guitar audition because the weather was so bad - the professor had to Skype with her because his flight to Dallas was cancelled!
He hemmed - he hawed and then he said 'I understand, just have Jessica bring in the music school badge she got and that should be fine' (After all, it's not like you can pop into the local Piggly Wiggly and pick up a loaf of bread and a University of North Texas School of Music ID badge with it!)
But when she got to the school to turn in the note we got yesterday from our doctor because - I kid you not, Jessica was stung by a wasp on her freaking right eye lid AND bitten by fire ants on her right foot and she's very allergic to both of them causing her to miss school on Monday because her right foot and right eye were swollen. (Oh, and now she has to carry an EpiPen so she's THAT allergic to the damn things) - she was told 'Sorry, I can't accept that (official UNT badge). It has to be a letter.' And Jessica lost it!
Imagine standing in the hall at your high school with your eye puffy, your foot itching, you're on steroids, and you've just been told that what your Assistant Principal just said doesn't matter. Yeah, it was NOT a good day for her either.
And in between all this lunacy - I'd personally contacted both universities and had them not only FAX proof of her Jessica's attendance on those days - but asked them to send letters through the mail. The lovely ladies at the schools obliged and were so truly kind and understanding - they've had to deal with high schools that get crabby before.
Then, J's counselor called me because she was concerned for me since my email sounded like I was upset and frustrated and angry. (Really? She must be a friggin' rocket scientist to have figured that one out.) And I said, 'Why yes, I am angry and frustrated and upset.' Then she tried to do that weird 'counselor' thing where they say, 'Umm, yes, I hear you. I understand. Now tell me, what do you see as a solution.' I really hate that.
But I did not want to play her counselor reindeer games - I told her I did not appreciate receiving a letter that makes it seem like my daughter is some sort of truant miscreant doomed to roam the earth in search of a piece of cardboard and a broad tipped permanent black marker so she can spell out 'No job. Missed too many days in my last year of high school' and that she is like that because her father and I made her that way.
I told her I know that it's all a game of numbers - more warm bodies in the classroom means more cold cash in the school's coffers. I'm not an idiot.
I know it's getting near to the federal and state fiscal budget appropriations time and my daughter's school district wants every penny they can get (even though the average income of the parents at my daughter's school is about $140K- and I can guaran-damn-tee you, there's nothing her school is in want or need of).
I know that there are other schools in the district where the average income is around $35K. And yes, I know that's a HUGE gap and that 'it's not just about one school or another - it's about a whole community of young people'.
YES, I KNOW!
But Jessica is MY daughter.
You mess with her - you get me.
You mess with me - you get someone who isn't intimidated by people who sit behind the big desk. You mess with my cub and my cub's future you get every single fiber of Mama Brown Bear and this is one mama who will not back down.
I am a woman with a voice. I am a woman who votes. I am a wife. I am a mother. And I have a husband who lets me get all my 'crazy' out of my system then tells me he loves me.
So, if arguing a point about 'excessive excused absences' not being really freaking excused ... because it's the principle of the matter well then...