Sometimes Parenting is Less About Teaching and More About Mediation


Topics of recent conversations with Max: video games, stem cell research, sexually transmitted diseases and related to that – unromantic but important conversations to have with potential sexual partners, abortion, why God should be thankful for the work the devil does, proofs that God doesn’t exist, video games, P.E. class and why it’s stupid, and Pippa’s infernal cuteness.

I told him he would have to take two years of a foreign language to graduate high school and asked him what he’d like to take.  He would like to take Russian.  I said I wasn’t sure that would be available at the high school level.  His second choice is French.

The SST meeting was canceled because Max’s grades are too good.  Everyone involved knows he doesn’t need special ed.  So we ended up having a meeting just between me, Max, and the school counselor to discuss how to help him raise his grade in P.E. from an “F” to passing.  The counselor told Max that he really respected Max’s strong sense of self, his confidence, his strong beliefs and his willingness to stand up for them (particularly referring to the battle of the Pledge of Allegiance).

Max just called me from school to bring him a new book to read for lunch period.  He also wanted me to take a photo of his wacky hair that he let a couple of girls put in a pony-tail on top of his head.  Oh, and he got another detention in PE for refusing to run the mile or whatever ridiculous run they’re supposed to do in a certain amount of time.  He said his legs were hurting.  The PE teacher doesn’t give a damn.  She says he needs a doctor’s note to get out of running.  Max thinks he’s going to get a doctor’s note when we go to the doctor next week so he can get out of running.  I had to explain to him that that’s not necessarily going to happen, that we’re going to talk to the doctor about the “leg pains” he’s had off and on for the last few years.  But he probably doesn’t have anything wrong with them.  Between him and the PE teacher I want to scream.

Max always seems to develop one adversarial relationship a year at school.  Every time it happens I want to yell at the adults who enter into these relationships with him.  Adults (particularly ones whose profession forces them to deal with a great many kids with a great many different personalities) should know how not to exacerbate such situations.  They should know how to diffuse a kid like Max without switching on his stubborn battle mode.  Yet every year there is one adult in Max’s school life who tries to fight him and force him to do their bidding rather than work with him to get him to cooperate.  I know the type of adult who does this and they are almost always exactly as rigid and stubborn and dictatorial in their ideals as Max is.  It makes me tired.  It makes me resent the teachers and/or administrators who engage in this futile battle of wills.  It’s unnecessary and results in their frustration which inevitably leads to Max getting in more and more trouble.  The teacher doesn’t get what he/she wants and neither does Max, really, but Max pays the bigger price in the end.

Max is never going to run that mile in the necessary time.  Ever.  I can tell you that right now.  So he’ll keep going to detention during lunch.  But this means he won’t eat lunch.  The PE teacher thinks the punishment is keeping Max from playing during lunch but he doesn’t play during lunch anyway.  He eats his lunch in the office every single day so that he doesn’t have to eat his lunch around other people’s food and so he can be close to the only clean bathrooms in the school that he’s willing to use.  So the real punishment is that detention (when there’s other kids sharing the room with him) forces Max to sit in a room with kids eating disgusting (to Max) food which makes him lose his appetite and so he won’t eat his own. Hunger and a little torture.

That sure as hell wouldn’t make ME behave, and I know it isn’t going to get Max to behave.  Every time she sends him to detention she’s making a bigger enemy out of him.  And me, because I get to deal with diffusing all his anger and dislike of his teacher when he comes home edgy with the irritating hunger of not having eaten anything for 7 hours.

I have come to the conclusion that I don’t really give a damn if Max flunks PE.  He is gaining nothing from that class just as I gained nothing from it when I was a kid.

I’m tired.  I’m glad it’s Friday.

My laundry is everywhere and our tense relationship with each other is taking up a lot of room in this house.  I suppose I should take a break from work to try to come to a mutual understanding with it.

I would also like to divorce my uterus whose services I no longer need.  Thank you for the child, good womb, but it’s time to pack up the equipment and turn off the services because we’re done collaborating.

I hope you all are having a less annoying Friday than I am!


  1. minnie says:

    this whole thing with PE pains me greatly.
    he needs to get t o sit out o f PE class, get away from that teacher and a pointless battle of wills, and get a PE credit some other way with some physical activity that he enjoys. why cant they just let him use PE as a study hall class. what jerks.
    PE is total bullshit

    i am so dreading this sort of thing.

    yesterday i sent a caustic email to all the kindergarten parents saying that the reasoning for not having coed soccer being stated as an assumption that all kids of one gender are aggressive alphas and all kids in the other gender are delicate princesses with no self-esteem is totally bogus, divisive and hurtful.

    the worst thing about jacks school for me is going ot be the other kids’ parents.

  2. angelina says:

    Right after posting this Max’s P.E. teacher emailed and I just got a stomach ache trying to respond respectfully. I’m going to suggest that they either let him do an independent study for P.E. like they do at the high school, or agree to let him do alternative exercises every day and I said I’d come down to the school to stand over him while he does them if they want me to, or just agree that he’s going to flunk P.E. and let him skip it and spend that period working on homework for other classes.

    I CC’d the counselor on that one. P.E. is STUPID. I hated it so much when I was a kid and got nothing from it but humiliation and pain.

    Having gendered soccer teams – particularly in the pre-teen ages – is ludicrous. I’m glad you wrote the school about that. Whether or not they listen to you – we have to speak up about shit like this!

    Interactions with other parents – definitely sticky territory. I almost never have to these days which is a blessing.

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