Tuesday, August 07, 2007

St. School House Rocks

Even with all the wacky saints in the Catholic church's saint index (St. Eligius, patron saint of cab drivers), it's nice to know that there are still some saints who you can pray to (if you're so inclined) for something that makes sense. If I were the type to pray to a saint (which I'm not), I'd be directing my prayers to St. Martin de Porres, patron saint of public schools.

I count myself fortunate that my daughter is enrolling in one of the highest-scoring elementary schools in the state, but that doesn't mean I'm not nervous about sending her to a school that relies on the local property taxes of a poor neighborhood for its funding. They've been using the same trash compactor for 20 years (yes, I did recognize it), and who knows if that thing's going to explode and shower all the children with mystery meat and chocolate milk?

Of course, this may all be just my delusional, insomnia-driven brain ramblings, brought on no doubt by receiving a phone call this morning telling me that my daughter has to come in for a test next week (two weeks before school actually starts). At first I thought it was a placement test. Silly me, thinking that just because my husband, who took the call, SAID it was a placement test, he would continue to say the same thing eight hours later. He's changed his story to "They didn't SAY what kind of test it was, I just THOUGHT that might be it, but I never SAID THAT."

Which I countered with, "Dude, I WROTE DOWN WHAT YOU SAID. Are you saying you MADE IT UP?"

Now for all I know it could a freaking TB test or something. That's all she needs, for the school nurse to stick a needle in her arm and inject her with fluid. I'm sure Gina will LOVE going to that nurse for her scrapes and cuts after that.

And can we talk for a minute about the paperwork I had to fill out? I know the school system has to be thorough, what with all the crazy allergies kids have these days and trying to make sure you actually live within the proper district boundaries, but you just KNOW they aren't handing that Migrant Worker Survey to the white families. The last time anyone in our family did migrant farm work was sixty years ago. That's why it didn't even occur to me to fill it out, and I had to stand there stupidly in the office and answer the questions verbally after handing in the 40 tons of papers I had to fill out and sign. Surely they saw the paper I filled out that said my daughter already HAD a TB test, right?

And will somebody please tell me why I can't pick up my five-year-old directly from her classroom? I'm walking the child to and from school, so why do I have to wait out in front, at a distance? I'll tell you why: two years ago there was a sudden surge in the number of divorces among this school's parent pool, and suddenly dads were walking in and picking up children even though it wasn't their assigned custody day, and by law the school had to allow it because both parents were listed on the registration card. But the moms were getting all pissed off, with the "Why would you let my child be picked up by her own father on the fourth Tuesday of the month, don't you know the intimate details of our private custody agreement?"

So the principal (who I really do admire, as she was my high school geometry teacher AND my husband's guidance counselor later on) said "To heck with this meshugas, I'm not having our classes disrupted because these people can't handle their own private affairs. Everybody wait out front for their kids, and there are no more after-school conferences. If it's that important that you tell the teacher what's going on, you have to make an appointment during the day, and if there's a problem with your custody agreement that doesn't involve having your ex removed from our registration card, tell it to the family court." To which I say rock on, except for the part where I can't go stand outside her classroom door and make sure no strangers try to take her before she makes it all the way to wherever I'm allowed to wait, if she even remembers where that spot is.

Then, of course, there's a whole set of papers you have to clear if your child was born in a foreign country, particularly if s/he's not a citizen of THIS country. Thank God my kids weren't born any farther away than North Carolina. I kind of feel sorry for the children of undocumented workers. Heaven knows what kind of lies those poor kids have to tell in today's anti-immigration political climate just to keep from being deported back to a country full of drug lords and mara salvatrucha.

Wow, they really have to deal with a lot at that school. Maybe if I have any Catholics in the readership, you could say a prayer to St. Martin for my school, that the teachers and administrators not go postal just trying to keep things running smoothly. I'll just be standing over here in the parents' waiting area with Gabriel the Archangel, patron saint of postal workers, radio, and television. Apparently he knows why FOX cancelled Firefly, and what better place to learn of the mysteries of fate and television workers than in the nearest House of Learning?

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