Friday, January 20, 2012

The Scribe Plays "The Happy Game"; Part II

    This is a continuation from yesterday: The Scribe Plays "The Happy Game"; Part I
    Just to recap: 
    All of the kids in the fourth grade have email addressees (provided their parents said it's okay and sign a paper). The kids were instructed to never write mean or gross emails and to NEVER give their password to anyone. The Scribe gave out her password to a "friend." That girl then went home and sent a few sexually horrific emails (under the Scribe's account and name) to other kids in the class. The Scribe was questioned. A bunch of the children in class were told what happened and then questioned. All of the kids thought it was the Scribe who sent those yucky messages. It wasn't until the end of the day that the Scribe's "friend" confessed.
    So, yes, I was upset that the Scribe gave out her password, but I did feel she played the role of a victim in this particular situation. Plus, it affected her social standing. Although the principal questioned her for a long time, the woman never called me. And the next day, despite going to the office twice AND calling the school four times, the principal still wouldn't speak with me.

Onto the post of today:

    At Fishducky's advice (and Bud's--the man who wears a pink hat AND was lucky enough to capture Fishducky's heart) I sent the school a polite email. 

    "This can be resolved quickly. I love the Scribe's school; it's wonderful. This doesn't need to be an issue, I just want to talk to the principal. My daughter was terrified going to school today; it would be nice to hear your side of the story. The other students should know she didn't write those emails. I don't want to take legal action, but I need a response soon. I'll be sending this same letter in the mail and as a fax just to make sure that you get it. -Elisa"

    After actually putting on some makeup and donning my boots, I got a call from the Scribe. "The girl who wrote the email didn't come to school today," she whispered. "But it's still terrible. One guy is calling me 'the Mop Head Potty Mouth.' Mom, can you come and get me?"
    "Scribe, you're made of stronger stuff than that. No, I can't get you, but we are going to sort this out."
    "One good thing did happen," she finally said, sniffling. "My teacher felt so bad for what's going on, she brought me into the hallway and hugged me. She even said she's going to give me a plant after school."
    "That's awesome! Just hang in there. Show 'em how tough you are, okay. You're the Scribe--you've been through worse. You're the same kid who put cat poop on a teacher's chair and survived!"
She cleared her throat. "That's right. Who cares what they say . . . But, Mom, what's a 'mop head?'"
    "Not you," I said. "Hey, since you called, are you in the classroom?"
    "Can I talk to your teacher?"
    Her teacher got on the phone and as we talked for just a moment, the teacher started crying. "I feel so bad for what happened to the Scribe," she said. "But I can't tell you anything else. The principal told me specifically, if you called, you need to know this is a bigger deal because it was on the internet. You have to talk with the principal."
    So, how fabulous was that?! The one person I was supposed to talk to, wouldn't return my calls.
    I got some strong coffee at a gas station after that, and I'm embarrassed to say, when the guy asked how I was, I said a swear word.
    Okay, I know swearing isn't against the law, but swearing in the presence of a practical stranger . . . maybe that should be. The guy stared at me all strange like I'd laid an egg right there in the store--a cuss egg.
    "Fine," he folded his arms. "You're never shitty. You're always happy. What's wrong? I got time for Miss Sunshine; I can't stand seeing certain people all worked up. You tell me and we'll sort this out."
    So I told him over my cup of Irish cream delight! He nodded and groaned, "Not the Scribe. She's always a peach when she comes in here."
    "Oh, yes," I said, my eyes bulging.  "The Scribe."
    "You get your butt back to the school, is what you do. If you need support, I'll go too, on break! I may have a soft underbelly, but I can look mean when I want to." Then he told me a sob story 'bout when he was a kid--that guy with the burly arms and tattoos. He got framed too and it set up his whole life for failure. "I got into drugs, then," he continued. "If they wanted to believe the lies, then I'd just do whatever they accused me of. You want your kid to fail?"
    "Ummm . . . no." I'm sure my face was white. I kept picturing the electric chair.
    "Then get over to that school. Show her she has a Mama who gives a damn. Give her what some of the rest of us never got--a backbone . . . a chance!"
    I kinda limped from the store because when you've spoken with an oracle, the conversation can be so powerful it leaves you weak. Who knew the local oracle moonlights as a gas station attendant!
    An amazing friend agreed to watch the babies and just after I dropped them off, I got a call from the school.
    "Hello, I've been assigned to the Scribe's case. Is this Ms. Hirsch?"
    Her case?  Wow, that was electric chair talk.  "Yes," I said sounding like the perfect mother who bakes, dances and sings AT THE SAME TIME! I turned from the ball buster of moments before, to the (quite ball-less) Elisa I usually am. "It's so nice to get your call. My daughter's having such a hard day at school. Can you tell me what's been going on?"
    She told me the ins and outs of the crime. I felt like a detective talking to an informant. We would crack this thing! We would!
    "We already know your daughter didn't send those emails, but we're assigning a computer programmer to track down the IP addressees so we can properly punish those involved. Your daughter will have to go to three hours of detention since she gave out her password, though. This will go on her record, but only that she gave her password, which is very minor considering what is going on the other kids' records. Not only were terribly messages sent, but some of the other children responded in a like manner."
    I have to admit, I was a little worked up about the detention thing, but instead of acting angry and throwing a fit, this is what I said, "The Scribe's had a tough time. She's struggled with reading and math. She hasn't wanted to go to school. Last year she used to call home sick--constantly. But that all changed this year. She found a best friend. She reads all of the time. She's getting ahead in math. I actually wrote a letter about her teacher and plan on nominating her for teacher of the year. I'm so thankful for her teacher, and proud of my daughter. But you know, today she called home saying she didn't feel good again. One of those emails even went to her best friend! It's sad watching someone get ahead, just to stand by while someone else tries ripping it from them."
    There was silence. Then finally, "I'm going to clear this up with all of the students. They need to know the Scribe didn't do this, especially her best friend. Thank you, Ms. Hirsch. I'm sorry your angel had to go through this. Be expecting a call from the principal shortly."

    I felt much better. I finally took the letter I'd written about the Scribe's teacher and submitted it to various sites. Here's the last section:

    Mrs. X has changed my child's life. She's left a lasting mark that no one can take away. I'm so thankful for the confidence and courage she's instilled in my child, and I will always be grateful because in resurrecting my child's love of education, she's saved my hopes in it as well.

    I printed out two copies and immediately decided to bring one to the teacher and one to the office so they could see how much we love the Scribe's teacher. The end of the day came and the principal still hadn't called me. I know everything was resolved, but for some reason it really irked me how I wasn't worth that woman's time.
    So, after school, I gave the teacher the note, hugged her and told her she made a bad situation good. Then, I went to the office. All of the teachers had left to do Zumba in the gym, but I silently bet the principal was still there. "Is anyone here?" I asked.
    After a moment, the principal came out. "Why yes," she said looking at some papers in her hands. When her eyes met mine, she froze. "You're the Scribe's Mom, aren't you?"
    I took the envelope containing the sweet letter I wrote about the Scribe's teacher, and I tapped in on the counter.
    "Yes, I'm the Scribe's mother."
    "Oh," she fumbled with the papers. "I'm sorry we played phone tag all day."
    Okay . . .? I HAVE caller ID. Can you call it phone tag when only one person has been calling? The woman hadn't called me once!
Her eyes went to the envelope which I kept tapping on the counter. Her face puckered as if she'd sucked in a fly. "What is . . . what's that?"
    I let her stew for a minute. I wondered if she assumed it was some legal document, or some other terrible thing. After she'd suffered sufficiently, I handed her the envelope. "It's a letter saying how amazing the Scribe's teacher is. I think when someone DOES their job and works hard to make the students and parents feel this is a safe learning environment, they should be recognized. I nominated her for teacher of the year. I even sent this to the local news station."
    She looked paler than before--if that was possible. "I'm sorry," she said. "I'm sorry for what happened with your daughter. It really wasn't her fault. And me, I'm so new to this."
    "It's . . . okay," I said after a moment. "The counselor who I did talk to was very helpful. I'm glad she called. All I really needed was to talk with someone. The longer things went, the more worried I became."
    She nodded and we shook hands. "It's so nice to meet you. It always means a lot when people praise our teachers."
    "And I figured it might make the school look good, too." I paused. "Being a new principal . . . that would be tough."
    "But meeting understanding parents and helping their kids, it makes it all worth it."
    "Thanks for your time." I waved.
    "No, thank you. I really appreciate that you stopped by." And that was all I'd needed the whole time was to feel like the Scribe mattered, and our needs were important. It was a roller coaster, but I hope we all learned something. The best discovery of the day though, was the oracle at the gas station. I still can't believe he was willing to go on break and help me wage war with a school. Some people are too awesome--seriously--that makes me want to work at a gas station so I can go into "oracle training."

    As we drove home last night, I turned to the Scribe.  "Do you still have to go to detention?"
    "Yes," she said.  "On Friday, for three hours with the boy who calls me 'the mop head potty mouth.'"
    "Oh, man.  That should be interesting."
    "Tell me about it," she said and forlornly stared out the window.  
    I sure hope today will go well for her.  Cade chuckled when I told him.  "Life has a funny way of sorting itself out," he said.  "She'll be all right.  You just wait and see.  For one thing, I bet she'll never give her password out again."
    I laughed.  "I bet you're right about that."