Thursday, May 31, 2012

Conversations with a Middle School Kid

My daughter has always been very certain about two things; what she wants and the fact that her mother is an idiot.  These two firmly held convictions have fostered an unbreakable bond between us; a bond which cannot be broken.  Mainly because she knows that she is dependent upon her favorite idiot.

This school year has been filled with debates on whether or not my children need to actually attend school when a child has decided that he or she doesn’t “need” to.  Don’t misunderstand me, they enjoy school and make excellent grades.  They are both very smart.  They have even been labeled as “gifted” by school administrators and several tests.  This doesn’t help my cause when it comes to school attendance. 

I had the following conversation with my daughter, who is in middle school, while we were in the throes of end of year finals:

J:          I don’t need to go to school next Tuesday.

M:        Ummm, are they closing up shop early?  I kind of thought you were having two finals that day.

J:          Funny story.  We had the final in civics today.  I didn’t know about it but it is ok because I was wearing my medal from yesterday and it is a lucky medal now.  So I think I did ok.  It was easy.  So since I exempted out of my Earth & Space Science final I don’t need to be at school at all next Tuesday.

M:        How could you not know when you were having a final?  Did you do ok?

J:          I guess he told us yesterday when we were at the Duke thing.  And I was absent.

M:        That’s why it is important to go to school.  Except for when you are accepting scholastic awards from a university.

J:          So can I skip on Tuesday?  There is going to be a sub and we are watching a movie or something for extra credit.

M:        No.  You go to school. 

J:          (Whining) I don’t WANT to go.  I don’t HAVE to go.  I can’t even USE the extra credit.  I already have an A in the class. 

M:        I’m thinking you need to go.  I don’t understand what is happening right now.  No final during finals and you are watching a movie?

J:          (Heavy sigh, rolling of eyes, and using Regis Philbin hands) I.  DON’T.  WANT.  TO.  GO.  I.  DON’T.  NEED.  TO.  GO.

M:        I tell you what.  You bring to me, IN WRITING, something that states you don’t “need” to go to your final exam in civics and I will let you stay home.  Your science teacher sent something home, right?

J:          Ok then.

It should have made me nervous that she not only dropped it but dropped it and smiled.

I had forgotten all about this exchange until I received an email the following day.  Below is the actual email I received.  The names have been changed to protect the innocent… teacher.

Subject: Julia next Tuesday

We are watching “A Bug’s Life” and answering economic and government related questions for extra credit on the final exam. Julia requires no extra credit. She requested that I let you know that she does not necessarily need to be present in my class next Tuesday.
Mr. Patient Teacher

She requested?

Mr. Patient Teacher is the school’s gifted and talented coordinator and has known my daughter for two years.  He is, himself, a gifted and talented teacher who knows how to reach his students and gain their respect.  He is totally awesome.  He is e-mailing a copy of the worksheet to me in order for my little sunshine to complete it while she watches our very own copy of “A Bug’s Life.”
She will have the “A-est” A that ever graced a report card.

The little girl did great.  She was somewhat surprised when I said that Mr. Patient Teacher would e-mail the worksheet to me for her to work on at home.  When I spoke to her that afternoon, she said that she had finished studying for her Algebra final and she had finished watching “A Bug’s Life” and had already e-mailed the worksheet to Mr. Patient Teacher.  I asked her about studying for another final and she replied, “Ummm, I kind of want to take a break from the thinking thing.”

Me, too.

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