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."


  1. I like how they talk about a elementary kid's permanent record like what's in it could make or break a kid. As if 20 years from now your kid is going to be at a job interview and all of a sudden they get with questions about that one time in the fourth grade when they gave out their e-mail password. Ridiculous.

    Anyway, I'm glad the issue was resolved. Back when I was in the 5th grade there were a couple of girls who taunted me RELENTLESSLY. One day it all came to a head, one of them pulled my hair and it looked like they were going to actually beat me up. So I defended myself. The best part was, they 'sentenced' me to detention, not because I'd done something wrong, but because they claimed it would be better if I wasn't out with the other kids for a while.

    Thankfully I had a mom like you who stood up for me and didn't back down. I think stuff like this is why parents need to be so much more involved in what's going on at school, because no matter how good the education is or how dedicated the staff, this crap still happens.

  2. oh WOW!
    three hours for giving out a password? yikes!
    BUT!!! in the end, it kind of worked out.
    that ORACLE dude, though. he's the stuff awesome is made out of, huh?

  3. They have "records" I'm elementary school? Seriously? That's ridiculous.

    Im so glad that someone finally contacted you about what was going on. I would have been one upset momma. As for the principal, shame in her. Who cares if she was new at this! She needs to be in contact with parents through everything!

  4. You are a good example of, "Words that soak into your ears are whispered...Not yelled."

    Kudos for giving the principal and ear full!

  5. I meant an ear full!

  6. I LOVE that Oracle dude! Seriously, he rocks!

    I can't believe they have "records" and "detention" in elementary school. This is such a foreign concept. Those things usually don't start until Junior High around here. Yikes.

    You are truly amazing Elisa, I don't think I could have held my temper as well when I actually saw the principal face to face and her give me a line like that Phone tag. I would have spewed all about how I didn't receive even ONE phone call through this entire process, and that as a principal it is her job to ensure the safety of my child while in her care. I also would have mentioned something about legality being broken by interrogating a child without parental permission, she may be new, but she really does need to know that is not ok.

    I hope all is well with "Scribe" today. I hope they let the students know that it wasn't her. If they keep putting off telling the truth, then when the truth does come out, sometimes it doesn't matter because kids can be mean and they will still associate the bad with them, even when it's been shown to be false.

    Oh I can't believe you don't have another "to be continued.." here...I will definitely want to know how her day goes today...maybe add a snippet in tomorrows post so we all can know she's doing better?

    JadeLouise Designs

  7. LOL never knew there were records in elmentary school. Sounds like they treat the things like a friggin FBI terrorist file or something, that's just sad. Glad it all worked itself out, even if the principal sounds like she was just making excuses, I bet if you weren't there she still would be playing imaginary phone tag..haha

  8. You handled this beautifully. I'm sure the Scribe learned many lessons from this. I hate it that she had to go through it though. Poor thing.

  9. You CAN catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, But who wants a bunch of sticky flies? I hope you learned that you can stand up for yourself with being obnoxious, although sometimes it IS necessary. You can be the sweet Elisa we love & still MAKE YOURSELF HEARD! I'm glad we could help resolve the situation.

  10. I admire your restraint. You handled yourself amazingly well and the Oracle gave sound advice.

    Your kids are lucky to have you. I hate that the Scribe had to go through this, but I think it'll only make her stronger. The world had better watch out. She'll probably rule it one day :D

  11. I'm glad that there was a happy ending to this story. I was worried about the Scribe!! You let that principal get off easy. New to the business or not, it's just RUDE to not return a phone call.

  12. i'm glad it all worked out but am still a little disappointed in the principal. just deal with the situation and move forward!

  13. Dear Elisa,
    This did resolve itself because you became pro-active. You have so much integrity and people--like the gas station attendant--recognize that. The principal may be new at her job, but she needs to learn that parents are not the enemy. I do admire the way she got to the truth of the whole thing, but her questioning the Scribe without you being there still concerns me. If you ever get the change to speak with her again, I'm hoping you'll let her know that.


  14. You let the principal off way too easy. You probably could have negotiated the counselor down too, ie accept the detention but have the record thing tossed. Sure it's an elementary school record and ultimately meaningless, but still it's the principle of the thing. They handled this badly and probably needed at least the scare of a legal threat thrown back at them.

    Regardless, the Scribe's feelings are the important thing here. Hopefully in the coming days this blows over at school for her.

  15. I'm glad things are sorting themselves out. The Scribe did do something wrong in giving out her password, so I understand why she needs detention. They are tracking down all the various students who sent those horrible things (talk about one wrong move snowballing!) and I hope they are dealt with firmly. I would bet The Scribe isn't going to be talked into doing something like that again any time soon. I just hope it is made clear to all the students that she didn't write them. It will all blow over in a short while. But what an ordeal! You and The Scribe handled it well. :)

    PS Love The Oracle. ;)

  16. I'm so sorry that the Scribe had to go through this. I'm glad they sorted things out at the school. I hope her detention goes uneventfully!

  17. I am glad I read Trish's comment before I started pecking at this keyboard. She said it better than I ever could: school record? Who gives a stink?

    I mean even juvenile criminal charges are sealed.

    I hope you and the family (especially Scribe) have a much better weekend.

  18. The principal sounds like she needs to get a backbone herself. Was she so afraid to call you and find out what you would say that she pretended to call you instead? I too think you let her off too easy. But at least the whole incident is now under control. Or at least it seems to be. :-)

  19. ahh. I'm so glad everything worked out in the end. You have some nice and awesome people around you! :)

  20. I am so glad you were able to get everything resolved and that in the end, the staff and counselors truly did care about Scribe and her situation. I think sometimes people forget that educators do more than just teach reading, writing and math. They help to shape the personalities and moral compass of our children. One uncaring teacher can lose a child forever.

  21. I'm glad that everything worked out. I'm still confused as to why the principal never returned your calls. Sure she's new but that doesn't mean she ignores the parents, especially in a situation like this. I wonder what she was doing or taking care of when she was supposed to be calling you and the other parents. At least you had nice people around you who supported you. Especially the Oracle Stranger - how cool is that. Always nice to hear when strangers help each other.

  22. Damn you. You made me cry. How do those little kids know that filthy stuff anyway? When the Hurricane was in fifth grade, a boy called a black girl "bitch ass n*****." I told Favorite Young Man and his friends, who were in high school, and they were shocked. They said they didn't know words like that when they were in fifth grade. Look at how fast the world changes, spinning around like a top out of control unless we follow Christ and put on the brakes.


  23. I love that kid. I know I've said that a million times but if you ever need me to go kick some school bootay I have no problem getting the gas attendant and we will handle your dirty work. :) Cade is right. She is going to be great!

  24. We don't punish kids at our middle school for giving out their passwords...what can happen next is punishment enough! I don't think she should have gone to detention. Tough school! You were very in control and classy--don't know if I could have done the same!

  25. Wow what a story I feel for the kid and I am glad she didn't have to go to detention as she was the victim and we should not punish the victim ever...............

  26. I am late to the party. Sorry I didn't read this sooner. Don't want to say what you've already heard. All I can say is Wow! On many levels. Wow!

  27. Crap, I almost bit my nails off reading this! What a nightmare! I'm glad that it looks like things will be getting worked out but I am not the happiest about 3 hours of detention. Poor Scribe has suffered enough.

  28. is it funny the places where you find wisdom? i like that. the "oracle" at the gas station. sorta like the "fool" in the king's court in medieval times. the only person in the court who would tell the king the truth. i bet the oracle has more wisdom in him then he evens knows...