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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Last day of kindergarten...

..and thank God for that!

Last week, OctoBoy was supposed to write up a small paragraph (with parental help) about his favorite kindergarten memory and draw a picture to go with it. "Be creative! The more original, the better!" was what Mrs. Chip told them,  That was the sum total of the directions on the assignment sheet.

As he is a fan of explosions, dinosaurs and mortal peril, OctoBoy constructed an action-laden and elaborate tale of a pterodactyl carrying off a school bus loaded with is classmates and teacher, with the latter being rescued by OctoBoy and his gang of four friends. (They have several clubs they've created over the year -- the SuperHero Club is the latest in a string of Spy Guys, Escape Plan, Girl Hater and Peanut Butter clubs.)

The drawing was top-notch, as well; an action shot of the pterodactyl flying off with the bus clutched in its claws while the five boys blasted it with surface-to-air missiles.

He was excited to take it in, and he was very proud of his work. I was, too -- it was the most enthusiasm I'd seen for a writing assignment all year.

He came home and silently handed me the draft, which had a big red "NO" scrawled across it. The accompanying note informed me that this was not a creative writing assignment, and that OctoBoy was to confine himself to reality. The assignment would have to be re-done using one of the memories she helpfully listed: holiday parties, Catholic schools week, the zoo field trip or her in-class birthday party(!).

Needless to say, the second draft was much less enthusiastically approached. We wrote two sentences about the zoo, and he drew a tiger. (Though it was NOT munching on Mrs. Chips' skull, as I would have had it.) THIS draft was acceptable for the end-of-year scrapbook. In looking it over, all 25 kids had boring, lifeless memories that matched each other. Not a single spark of fun or creativity among them.

The note Mrs. Chips sent home and the original draft came in with me this morning when I went to meet with Sister Linebacker for the last time over Mrs. Chips' nonsense. I expressed my concerns calmly and (surprisingly) without raising my voice or using profanity: kindergarten is no place to be quashing the enthusiasm and creativity of children, and perhaps Mrs. Chips would be happier teaching a higher grade -- or not teaching at all. Certainly, after a year of complaining and bullyragging OctoBoy, she is not welcome to speak to him again. I reminded Sister of how many meetings over her conduct we've had, how many notes I['ve sent in, and how many times I've felt the need to call Mrs. Chips's issues to her attention.

Sister agreed; Mrs. Chips has already resigned her position due to "incompatibility issues." Apparently, I am not the only parent who's been in over the course of the year. A WIN for OctoBoy!!

By the way: Sister loved the pterodactyl tale and the picture. she made a copy for her office wall, and I got to keep the original in my Box of Kid Things I'll Save Forever.


  1. "Mrs. Chips has already resigned her position due to 'incompatibility issues.'"

    I'm in a really cranky mood at the moment, but that brought a huge smile to my face. Thanks for the update.

    (I'm hoping the 'incompatibility issues' were something along the lines of "Your attitude towards the kids is incompatible with the continuation of your metabolic processes." Or "Your attitude is incompatible with your head not being run through a door.")

  2. I do love a story with a happy ending.

  3. "The assignment would have to be re-done using one of the memories she helpfully listed: holiday parties, Catholic schools week, the zoo field trip or her in-class birthday party(!)."

    If I was Octoboy's art director... we'd combine the zoo and the party and show - graphically - what tigers do to strung-out vegans.

  4. I'm glad the boy had a moment of great creativity and enthusiasm. I'd have been worried if he hadn't.

    And I know it's of little consolation, since Octoboy has already suffered a year with her, but I'm glad she's done there. Maybe his first-grade teacher will be more of a teacher.


  5. Had this been public school, the principal would have regarded you with a look of abject boredom, defended Ms. Chips' right to screw with little kids' minds before added something mildly insulting and infinitely placating to you. End result - Ms. Chips would be free to thusly kill off the love of learning, imagination, and fun for future kindergartners because, hey, she has tenure.

  6. Is this the same Ms. Chips who proclaimed that anybody who didn't have undying love for "Dances with Smurfs" was, in fact, a horrible monster who hated Mother Gaia and actively killed puppies when they weren't bulldozing the rainforests?

    Pffft. Good riddance. I'm sure she'll be happier in her new career as a Code Pink event coordinator.

    And, I'm sorry, but I'm kind of stuck at the "you have to be creative, but not too creative!" excuse. Kind of defeats the purpose, no? It's also rather sad that she feels the need to bully Kindergartners into writing stories about her birthday party. What a bitter, lonely life she must have.

  7. Well done, OctoBoy, and good on you for supporting him, Mom.

    The dragonslayers amongst us do so not because no one ever told them they couldn't, but because they never believed the nay-sayers. As for the dullards who delight in scuttling the creativity of a small child, fuck 'em.

  8. Any chance you can post a scan of the masterpiece?

  9. Yippee!

    Good riddance to bad rubbish.


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