Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Ruffled feathers.

My friend Widget had this quiz on her blog. She's Hermione (explains a lot) and to my complete surprise (and joy) I'm Harry. No wonder I love the books so much. It's all about MEEEEE!
Something happened yesterday that has me a bit ruffled. I'll preface it by saying that I'm not a sooky-la-la about my kids. I see them pretty clearly, and I have no hesitation in admitting their flaws. (It's easy for me, as I don't have any flaws myself. Naturally.)
I'll be the first to say that Jack was a hideous beast when he was in years 7 and 8. He was very immature, loud and didn't fit in with the other kids in his classes. He had a very lonely two years until he started to grow up a bit towards the end of year 8 and met some mates. He's thriving now. Thankfully, the alchemy that occurs in year 10... the alchemy that instead of turning lead to gold turns revolting adolescent kids with raging out of control hormones into reasonably human-like people by the end of the year has occurred with him. He has turned into a funny, creative kid who is good to be around. (He still has his moments, but he confines them to home, a gift of love to his nearest and dearest.) Other teachers who have known him over the last four years are also very complimentary about how he's turning out (though they'd still like him to do more homework with greater detail), so it's not just me. He's turning out ok.
Unlike some other teachers' kids who also go to the school. Who are in the same year level. Who are female. Whose parents don't have the same degree of clarity when it comes to their offspring. Whose parents have no hesitation while talking to another parent in insulting said parent's child while insinuating that their own female child is vastly superior.
Am I speaking in vast generalities??? Or do you get the impression that this is probably not a very large group of students I'm referring to?
We're doing interviews with the year 10s at the moment, which I've referred to in an earlier post. This particular girl had her interview yesterday. She wanted to do an enhancement subject (a year 12 subject) and after a lot of see-sawing and humming and harring we let her. Her behaviour and attitude (she's a real little 'miss') and her marks were borderline, and during her interview she talked as if she was one of the teachers instead of a student, which got up our noses a bit. She loathes Jack and ignores him totally, so he finds it amusing every so often to greet her with a cheery "Hi Bleep! How are you?", just to watch her turn her face away.
(She's not really called Bleep. That was my subtle way of disguising her identity. I don't care that they're not fond of each other. That's none of my business. As long as they're not being openly nasty to each other, bullying or beating the living daylights out of each other, then I'm keeping out of it. I think they've got a delicate balance and routine worked out, so good on them.)
After school I was tutoring a year 9 girl, and I saw...(lets call him Mr Bleep) walk past the door. I'd heard another teacher say something nice about the daughter he has in a junior level of the school (I'm not giving that kid a pseudonym), so I ducked out into the hallway to tell him. We all like to hear nice things about our kids.
"Yes, my child who doesn't have a pseudonym is very different to Bleep," he said. "Bleep and I are very similar; almost too much alike."
I smiled, because he evidently thought that was a good thing, and then I told him about something that was said in the interview before he got there. Bleep had said something that absolutely sounded like something Jack would say. I knew she'd hate that, (who likes to hear that they're similar to someone they don't like? ) so as a joke I said, "You really shouldn't hate Jack so much, Bleep. In some ways you think alike. He'd say the exact same thing that you just said." She shuddered and laughed, I laughed and we moved on.
I told that to Mr Bleep, expecting that he'd have a chuckle. Instead I get a genuine shudder and a remark that was delivered in a way that implied that I would totally understand where he was coming from.
"Oh dear. That'd be terrible if it was true.... Bleep's nothing like Jack."
Umm... pardon?
Would it have been impolite to say "Thank Goodness, it's such a relief to me. Jack doesn't have teachers handing me written complaints about his attitude and his inability to shut up in class. He doesn't walk around the place with his chin jutted up at a very slight but discernable angle that shows that he thinks he's a cut above the rest. He doesn't go up to you and make bitchy sly comments about what a pain Bleep is. (yes, she does this occasionally. The next time she does it I won't be very polite.) It makes me wonder what Bleep says about Jack to you, because you've never even taught him, unlike me with your daughter. Jack never mentions Bleep. She's not even on his radar. Yes, Mr Bleep, I'm very fortunate that Bleep's nothing like Jack. How glad I am that you can see the difference between the two."
(Don't get me wrong. I actually don't mind Bleep in a lot of ways. She's a nice enough kid when she wants to be, and she has a good sense of humour. But she's certainly not vastly superior to Jack. Or anyone else in year 10, come to think of it. It's just that I'm a bit miffed at Mr Bleep at the moment.)
Fortunately for the sake of good working relations I have manners. I smiled politely and we kept talking, then I ducked back in to my tutoring kid to see if she'd finished her story.
I know it was only an off the cuff comment, and he meant it as a joke..... well, half meant it as a joke...we get along really well and I like him a lot.....
but there was something in the delivery that I really don't like.
I don't think I make comments about other people's kids to them with an undercurrent of criticism and dislike. I've discovered that I really don't appreciate being the recipient of remarks like that. As I said, my feathers are a bit ruffled. I understand that Bleep is probably the president of the "I Hate Jack " club, and that her dad is probably an honorary member. That's fine. I approve of family loyalty. But don't expect me to join in with jokes that cut him down. I'm not a card carrying member of that club. Never will be.
Now I wish I didn't duck out into the hall to make his day brighter with a remark about his other kid, the one with no pseudonym. Next time I think I'll keep it to myself.
Whinge over. And out.


River said...

Glad you got that off your chest. And since Miss Bleep is basically a nice enough kid, a little maturity could see her turn out at least as ok as your Jack, who sounds like a terrific kid. It's great to see our kids straighten up and develop into people we enjoy.

River said...

I'm Ginny Weasley.

Frogdancer said...

Sometimes it's good to vent. I kept seeing Mr Bleep today and I felt guilty. I like Bleep, and I like him. I just have /had an issue with the way he said the line.
(I'm a drama teacher. I know what tone of voice is all about...)

Still, I feel better now!

Scott said...

Well, I've never met Bleep but i don't like Mr Bleep, and I really like little non-Bleep. So there you go! It's OK not to like Mr Bleep - not many people do. And I'm Hermione Granger.

Frogdancer said...

hello Hermione and Ginny.

I guess that means you and I end up married, River!!!!