This week I am unhappy with the big kid's school. I am very happy with the school administration, they are fabulous, but I am unhappy with some of the things going on with the students.
The problem is, I don't know if I have unrealistic expectations. I have just left this magical little bubble of a school where everyone embraced our values. You knew that chances were 9 our ot 10 that if your child went to play at another family's house, their approach to discipline and media would be similar to yours. You knew they would be safe, and that they wouldn't be watching some freaky movie.
Friday Sprout came home and told me that her third grade reading buddies insisted on choosing a book with naked babies in it (which I'm sure were cartoony and fine). She described in detail the sexual gestures and statements they continued to repeat, with the book as a starting point, even though she asked them to stop. This is not the first situation of the kids coming home and asking about hand gestures depicting straight and gay sex.
I emailed the teacher, who got right on it. The situation must have caused a stir because Small Sun came home saying that the girls in question went to the office. He was given a message by another third grader "tell your sister she's lying. Those two girls didn't do anything wrong, your sister is lying."
Sprout told me she had been afraid to tell me because she didn't want to get in trouble.
I don't think that navigating exposure to more adult sexual information should be the job of first grade.
Last week a child splashed hand sanitizer in another child's eye ("on purpose"), and the hurt child went home. Also last week, one child chucked a large piece of mulch, hitting another child in the head, where she already had stitches that were healing.
Small Sun learned the "real F word", which, as it turns out, is not "stupid."
In Sprout's class there are a few children who have been sent home mid-day for extreme misbehavior, and many afternoons include recounts of endless classtime lost with classroom management.
A girl in Sprout's class told the story of Chucky - the horror movie. Fortunately, Sprout thought she was saying "Chookie" (chicken), so it didn't make much sense to her. She has found the girls in her class to be manipulative. The same one who tells about Chucky also talks about Satan killing Jesus, and cries and causes drama if Sprout says she doesn't want to participate in her recess "storytimes".
I've heard about lots of lying.
So here's the thing - I want to be able to share about sex freely with my kids, when I think they are old enough. I want to have the conversation about drugs - I don't want the school having it from preschool on up for me (and they do). I don't want to keep my kids in a sheltered bubble, but I want them to be in a safe and kind environment where their job is learning - learning reading, maths, science, technology, english, and everything else. The things they need to learn about as they grow up, and need to know about the world, are things I want to be communicated by a loving and thoughtful parent, not a fourth grader on the playground. I want their peers to be kids who are in families that value kindness, honesty, responsibility, and discipline.
I don't know if this is a public vs private school issue, or if this is America and I'm just not used to it, or if I am too sensitive and need a thicker skin. What I do know is that what I hear coming home from school often makes me feel unhappy, and I don't know what to do about it. I have many good friends doing public school, and feeling happy with it. I also have many friends homeschooling or hybrid homeschooling. When do you keep going, and hope it gets better, and when to cut your losses and make a change?
There are so many things I am really happy with at this school, but unfortunately, the kids aren't one of them...and that's kind of a big part. I'd love your thoughts.