Monday, December 5, 2011

Before our school gets fired!

So this here incident... I want to give more details of what happened, what I did, and why.

Kindergarten dismisses the students to go to their after-school STAR class and they literally walk 20 ft to some tables where a STAR teacher is waiting. Simultaneously, parents are picking up their kindergartners and walking out a gate. Porter got dismissed to his class. He did STAR all last trimester, so he knows the drill. It was the first day of the new trimester for his skateboarding class. He saw that most all the other kids had skateboards and he didn't. He was embarrassed, and rather than talk to a teacher, he hit the road to avoid the confrontation.

After he came home and the shock wore off and the actuality of the situation sunk in, I asked more questions to make sure I was prepped with the full story. Due to the nature of it all, for better or worse his one-sided story was going to be the bulk of information. So after that, I came up with my plan.

Which obviously started at home. This was a huge indication of Porter's lack of confidence, which I've always been worried about, but this solidified that I had reason to worry. Imagine never having walked home alone and knowing that you shouldn't but still choosing to do that rather than talking to an adult because you feel out of place. That's a problem. And that's the main problem. He consciously made a decision to go against the rules and I really feel like the fault fell on him. He didn't 'get in trouble', but we helped him understand why he shouldn't do that and what he can do in the future. We're going to take a more pro-active approach is giving him opportunities to gain confidence and use his bravery to do HARD CRAZY things for good. Instead of just for running away. We made sure he knew our phone numbers and obviously he already knew our address and how to get home!

I called and talked to the STAR director who was obviously mortified. They had him marked absent and didn't follow up on absences that day which is protocol. I then talked to Porter's teacher. Before telling him what Porter had done, I asked him about the previous day's dismissal. He said he released him to STAR and even specified the class, which meant- according to my detective skills- he clearly remembered. I then told the teacher what happened and he about passed out as he saw his family, his living, and welfare flash before him. At that point, the STAR director joined me and I addressed my issues with the hole in the transition process. I talked strongly and confidently {without addressing Porter's responsibility} but without completely blaming them for the situation. I didn't 'let them have it' or fly off the handle.

So why did I take this approach? A couple of key reasons. While the school does not hold the kids' hands every step of the way, they had a program that was functioning rather well. All the years in operation, I'm guessing this is the first run-away case. Porter is in kindergarten, not pre-school. I think expectations along with shown actions indicate most Kindergartners are capable of navigating that 20 feet alone. And if they don't have the ability {which is different from choosing not to}, then I personally don't think they're ready for Kinder. Secondly, I was not going to wring the school's neck in front of my child for HIS poor decision. I think that sends a terrible message. Like I said, I firmly made them aware of their fault in the system but I'm a big believer in ownership and responsibility. I think it would have been a horrible precedence to show Porter that he can make decisions on his own but his parents will act as a buffer and blame someone else when it turns out to be a poor decision. The flip side of both points- expecting the school to hold my child's hand every step of the way and  blaming the school for Porter not doing something that he's proven capable of doing the previous 3 months- are evidence of a growing problem...youth gaining independence. I have a saying in regards to this issue- "The older they are, the harder they fall." I'm hoping to help my kids avoid some of those bigger pitfalls by learning at a young age to be independent and responsible and take ownership for THEIR actions. I will help them along the way and provide them with all the love and support in the world but I have no intention of carrying them when they can walk on their own and acting as a crutch. This was as good as time as any to teach that lesson.

The school also needed to take responsibility for THEIR part. Within 2 days an email was sent out remedying the problem. It was taken care of that quickly and efficiently without making a huge deal of it.

And, just on an ending note, after all was said and done, I was super proud that little Porter Pistol Pope knew how to navigate his way home. These past three years of stopping at the same driveways, having the kids look both ways, pushing the buttons, learning to follow the traffic all paid off. I didn't think he was capable to be honest. I would have never administered the test this early  and this doesn't grant him permission to EVER do this again in the near future but in case of an emergency, he's equipped and that makes me confident and proud. And as parents, isn't our ultimate goal to prepare them for productive, positive, independent adulthood? That's definitely my goal and shows we're making forward progress in that area. 

Ok, I'm stepping down from my soap box. But I would genuinely love your opinion/perspective on all this!


  1. You're one wise woman Gay. I'm glad I didn't have to do it. That cute guy, so brave! You're a great parent Gabrielle.

  2. I think you totally had the right approach! I think everyone needed to take responsiblity for their part in the incident. Porter, for leaving, etc. The school for not following up etc.
    I think if you would have just gone straight to the school and blamed them your doing a huge injustice to your kids and showing them that a- they have no consequences for their actions. b - its always someone else's fault c- mom will fight my battles for me.
    I totally admire you...i think you handled it perfectly!

  3. One question...skateboard class? What?

  4. Wow..scary!!! But I think you handled the situation perfect! I like that you're a believer in accountability...everyone definitely had to own up to their part, which it sounds like they did. II think it's good for kids to have to take responsibility for something so major at such a young age. I think the lesson learned will pay off BIG TIME in Porter's future because now he's been through it and probably doesn't want to go through it again. Good job mama, in all aspects!

  5. Thanks for sharing. Us parents need help from each other to know how to handle these kids of ours and their growing up :). I totally agree with your opinion on this matter. Sometimes we want so bad to shield our kids from everything (even from their own choices:), but they will never learn and grow if we did.

  6. i agree with the others, you handled it just right. it makes my heat beat faster just thinking of my 5 year old walking home alone! i'm so relieved that this story has a happy ending!


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