Thursday 28 May 2015

Speak Softly and Carry a Shih-Tzu

There is a little boy who lives around the block from us and plays with the boy next door on a regular basis.  For some reason this little boy doesn't seem to like Frack very much.

Over the last year I have overheard this kid call Frack names and try to instigate games where they get to target Frack and pick on him.  One day in the winter Frack came home from school to tell me that this kid, oh let's call him Dennis, got a couple of kids to make "snow rocks" (basically rocks rolled up in snow so that they look like snowballs but have a rock hard center) and chase Frack around throwing them at him.  One of the "snow rocks" got him in the face.

I mostly let the school handle the incident although I did talk to the parents of the boy next door.  That boy is Frack's best friend and I didn't think he really meant to hurt Frack, but got caught up in the whole peer pressure thing.  He's really a nice boy with nice parents who have been good neighbours to us for about 12 years now.

I'm not exactly sure what Dennis' problem is.  I've met his mother and she seems very nice.  Frack has never done anything to him but for some reason this kid likes picking on him.

About two weeks ago I came home from work to hear Frick tell me that this Dennis kid decided to punch Frack in the stomach.  I asked him why that happened and he said he didn't know he just put a stop to it.  I marched right next door in the hopes that my neighbours had Dennis' parents' phone number.

They did.

I got Dennis' father on the phone.

"Hi, I'm so sorry to bother but I'm Frack's mum?  He's the little boy who lives next door to (name redacted because I don't feel like dreaming up another fake name)?  Anyway, I just thought you would want to know that today your son punched my son in the stomach and that to be honest he's kind of been picking on my son for a while now.  I'm sure I'm only getting one side of the story but from one parent to another I know I would want to know if my kid had hit anybody, so I thought I'd just give you this call."

He didn't seem very impressed by the information I had just given him.  And by this I mean not that he was pissed at his kid's behaviour, but that he didn't seem to be bothered very much by the fact that his kid punched my son.

"Oh.  Okay.  Thanks for letting us know."

And that was it.  He didn't ask if Frack was okay.  He never apologized for his son's behaviour.  He didn't even throw in a standard "I'll be giving him a good talking to."  Nothing.  I was beginning to wonder if I hadn't over-reacted.  But then I remembered all the times I heard this kid cry out "Let's get Frack!" and "Frack's a little baby!" and I wondered why I hadn't said something sooner.

Anyway, who knows?  Maybe I caught the guy in a bad moment.  Maybe he's just socially awkward.  I had done my job and let him know what his kid was up to.  The rest was his business.  I just knew I'd be keeping a closer eye on the boys when Dennis was around.

 So yesterday when Dennis was next door playing with (name redacted) and Frack decided to join them I made a point of working in the garden so I could watch them.

Isn't he just the cutest little muppet-dog you ever did see?
When I'm out in the garden I like to have the dog with me off leash, especially if the boys are playing because the dog loves running around and playing with them.

Fry absolutely adores children.  He knows they are a source of attention and cuddles and food.  All the kids in the neighbourhood know and love Fry.

It's kind of a fun experience taking my dog for a walk and having complete strangers know my dog's name.  Or when I take Fry with us for the walk to school and groups of school children come running to give Fry a pet.  In fact the morning walk to school is Fry's favourite time of day!

So it kind of came as a shock to me when I heard Dennis suddenly scream:


I looked up to see what all the fuss was about and I saw Dennis running and screaming for his life while Fry, not realizing the kid was terrified, just chased after him thinking it was a great game.

Then all hell broke loose.

Dennis ran even faster and screamed even louder.  This seemed like awesome great fun to Fry who responded by barking and speeding up.  Me and the Dad of the neighbour kid were begging Dennis to just calm down and stop running ("You're only making him want to chase you!  He's a nice doggy!  It's okay!  He won't hurt you!"), all the while desperately trying to catch the dog who was clearly having the time of his life.

Even after I finally caught the dog, Dennis was inconsolable.  He would not calm down until I finally got Fry into the house.

Now, I never dreamed this kid was afraid of dogs.  He lives with one of the biggest standard poodles I have ever seen.  And he has played around our yard with Fry outside before.  I don't ever recall seeing him be uncomfortable around dogs before.  And I would never, ever want to terrorize a child to this level on purpose....


Is it terrible that I kind of found the incident just a teensy, weensy bit amusing?  Am I a horrible person for hoping that Dennis might think twice before throwing snow rocks and punches at my kid knowing that my kid has Big Bad Fry to protect him?

I am probably going to hell, aren't I?

Wednesday 27 May 2015

More Passive Aggressive Agenda War: Battle of the Reading Log

As some of you may know I have recently been doing a sort of passive aggressive agenda war with Frack's teacher.

Our last bout went rather well.  Better than I expected, actually.  In fact, she was suspiciously cool about it given the tone of the note I had sent her.  She basically said "No problem!  That's certainly understandable!  And also I want to meet with you to discuss Frack's progress."

What.  The.  Fuck.


Because at that point I had already met with her three times and had also just received a report card whose purpose is to, you know, discuss his progress.  I had just informed her that I have a new job and work long hours which was why Frack's reading log wasn't being signed every day.  And her response is to suggest using up more of my free time having a carbon copy of every meeting we have ever had?

Because you know for damned sure she isn't going to bring up anything that's really bothering her.

And that is exactly what happened.  I'd hoped maybe she had something new to add.  I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt.  I thought, "Maybe she was gong to ask me to meet before I sent her that note.  Maybe she has real concerns to talk about.  Maybe this will be a productive and worthwhile parent teacher meeting."


We spent a half hour having the same conversation in person that we have always had.

Her:  I have concerns about Frack's participation in class.  Also he is falling behind in reading.  And he doesn't seem to understand how to follow instructions

Me: Yeah, Frack is incredibly shy, especially if he gets upset or is put on the spot.  Also he was very speech delayed and often has trouble processing language.  He really needs simple instructions given to him one step at a time.  And if he is upset or stressed out his understanding of any language completely shuts down.

Her:  I don't think he's shy.  He's always acting too silly.

Me:  Well he is a seven year old boy.

Her:  He needs to be at level 7 in reading by the end of the year.  He is in level 4 right now.

Me: We're working on it.

At this moment in time I have officially met with Frack's teacher four times.  FOUR TIMES!!!  Just how much of a problem is this kid?  Frack is one of the easiest to deal with children I have ever encountered.  My older son has ADHD which comes with a host of actual behavioural problems and I have never had to meet with his teachers this often in one year!

Well now this new, latest note takes the cake.

"Frack has just progressed to level 5 in reading!  But he is having difficulty with the words.  I would really like to meet with you to discuss his progress."


My kid makes PROGRESS and you need to meet with me about it?  What kind of bullshit hand-holding do you need from me, lady?  What could you possible have to say to me that you didn't say when we met TWO WEEKS AGO?

And REALLY, I am somewhat amazed at her concerns for Frack's literacy.  Frack can read and write.  He reads and writes at home all day long because he thinks it's fun.  He likes to write his own story books.  Just what exactly are her standards????

Well, ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to show you a sample of level 5 reading for the first grade.

That is quite a collection of 50¢ words for Grade 1

If that is level 5 reading then what the hell are they reading for level 7?  This teacher would have me believe that Frack will grow up to be an illiterate hobo when back in my day the most challenging thing I had to read at the tender age of seven was "Look Dad!  A jet! A jet!  A jet!"  (Thank you, Mr. Mugs reading series!)

Personally, I believe that if you are assigning a child homework that they cannot do without help then you have no business assigning that homework.  Children should be able to do their homework on their own with maybe just a little guidance and advice from parents.  Furthermore, there just shouldn't be any homework for first graders, period.

This reading log business is effectively killing Frack's passion for words.  He struggled though this page with tears of frustration in his eyes.  At which point I told him he didn't have to read it anymore.  His relief was palpable.

Not the work of a child with reading problems.

I don't think I should be upset, or meeting with teachers, because my seven year old is having difficulty reading in another language at what appears to be a third grade level.

I informed Mme. That there just isn't any convenient time I could name to meet with her because of my job.  She said we could even talk over the phone if that helped and just to name a time.

I have decided to simply never name that time.

She has had enough of my free time as it is.  Five meetings?  No, thank you very much.  To continue to ask for my free time when there isn't any real problem and I have recently communicated that I have so little free time I can barely read with my child on a daily basis just seems like she is trying to punish me for thwarting her on this stupid agenda signing.

And so, I shall sit and do nothing.

Your move, Mme.