Monday, May 12, 2008

Failing to Launch

During the camping trip, and even before, a lot of us that teach 7th grade this year noticed that our kids this year seemed, well, a bit young. Maybe even a tad immature. Instead of our usual crop of girls who were 13 going on 33, we had girls that actually acted like a 7th grade girl should act - interested in boys (barely), wearing Hannah Montana t-shirts, and carrying pink binders with Carebear stickers all over them. Our boys, besides being the smallest group I've seen in some time (I am, amazingly enough, still taller than a lot of them and that never happens by May) cry a lot. We have got the most amazing group of criers. It's downright strange. They're nice kids but they seem so, well, young.

And then we started putting together the camping trip and Mrs. Bunny and I think we've figure out why.

Last year, when we took our kids on the same trip, we had not a single phone call from a single parent. Not one. They all sent in the fee for the trip, signed and notarized the permission slip, and dropped their kid off that morning with sleeping bag and luggage in hand. It almost seemed as if they were glad to be rid of them for a weekend. In fact, we had a number of parents thank us for the "weekend off".

This year our phones were ringing off the hook.

We had not one, but two parents call up to ask where they could park their camper and pitch their tents as they figured this would be a fun vacation for the whole family and they were planning on tagging along. (Mrs. Bunny put the kabosh on that by explaining it was a private facility and no, there wasn't a place for them to camp, and yes, they'd probably be considered trespassing.)

I had one parent that called me, and Mrs. Math, to inform us that she had taken the morning off work, even though she really needed the money, so she could be there at the school to wave goodbye to her son and take pictures.

When our bus left on Friday we had at least half a dozen parents standing in the rain in the parking lot waving goodbye, many with cameras. Considering that last year not one parent showed up for the grand departure, this struck us as a bit odd.

Then when we got to the camp and the director told us that he had one of our parents drive all the way out there earlier in the week to "inspect" the camp and make sure it was adequate, we about hit the floor. He informed us that he's never, in all his years there, had a parent do that. The fact that this parent showed up on Saturday to eat lunch with her daughter was really no surprise by this time.

Of course, this parent is a bit, shall we say, over involved. She drives her daughter to school and walks her into the building. She comes back and eats lunch with her daughter. She returns to pick her up, and walks her to her locker to fill her backpack. She's there so often some of our newer staff members thought she worked there. He reasoning, according to Mrs. Eagle who has her daughter on her team, for doing all this is that she doesn't want her daughter exposed to the language and types of discussions the "other" students engage in. Why she doesn't just homeschool her or send her to private school is beyond me, if she's that paranoid.

Mrs. Bunny and I were mulling all this over this week and she mentioned that perhaps the reason why we have such an immature group is that their parents aren't letting them grow up. They're smothering them.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for involved parents because without parental involvement, children just don't do as well in school. However, part of growing up and a big part of seventh grade is developing a little bit of self responsibility. A little independence. Making mistakes and learning from them. And none of this is going to happen unless parents let it happen.

And for some reason I have visions of a lot of these kids living at home in their 40's...


W.R. Chandler said...

Isn't it amazing how one group can be so different from another, even though each group is made up of individuals?

I always think about that when our schools' adequate yearly progress (AYP) are determined by state test scores that are produced by these differing groups of students.

The Vegas Art Guy said...

Wow, kids actually acting like kids? Heck even my 5th grade daughter is not into Hannah Montana anymore. Now my three year old son thinks she is hot stuff!

The Bus Driver said...

LOVE the idea of a camping trip for these kids! sounds like you all had a blast!! i think i found a new favorite

Ann aka ButDoctorIHatePink said...

We had a kid like that at one school where I worked. Mom came in every day to bring her a special lunch because it was the only thing the child would eat. They requested all kinds of special accomodations for her and we had to deal with them on an almost daily basis. This girl was an 8th grader - I can only imagine that high school would come as quite a shock to these parents, as that sort of babying won't be tolerated at that level.

"Ms. Cornelius" said...

Ohh, mss, I don't know about that....

(heavy sigh)

Bless you for taking those kids anyway. I might have developed a case of the hives just thinking about it.