Yesterday our bus driver, an immigrant man who is great with the kids and delightful to talk to each day, reported that on Thursday, when he got to my new student’s stop, there was no one there to collect him. The bus driver waited for ten minutes until finally someone came.
I called Mom to let her know what had happened. I could hear her asking someone else who was with her, “were you at the bus stop on time?” I told her that sometimes the driver ends up bringing the child back to school, and the parents have to come get him. In rare cases, the police are called and the children are taken to the local Children’s Home.
This was the wrong thing to say.
She said, “I know that place! I’m not dealing with that place! I’m pulling my baby out of school.”
And she hung up on me.
I let the Princess know what had happened. She thanked me for giving her the heads-up, and assured me that the parent will probably cool down and forget all about it, but if Mom called, the office would know the story.
Then I went back to my classroom and talked about it with my Americorps volunteer. It seems crazy to say that you are going to pull your child out of school (especially when he has just started school for the first time a few weeks earlier) just because the bus driver says you were late to the bus stop. It’s inexplicable to the average middle class person. But to some mothers living in poverty, it makes perfect sense.
I have encountered this before . These are mothers who love their children and want the world to know they take care of their children. They are also women on the defensive in a tough world, who are very quick to go on the offensive. She perceived a threat, and she responded quickly. Never mind that all she has to do is meet the bus on time, or be willing to go to the school to pick him up. Never mind that his skills are incredibly low and that he needs to be at school to be at all ready for success in kindergarten. It was a) threat, and b) response. And I think she felt like a good mother, looking out for her kid. In her world, perfectly logical.
But it took a while for me to stop being upset and just let it go.