Thank you for pissing off my teenage daughter…

backtoschool

Dear Ms K,

Thank you for pissing off my child enough so that she tells me about it. If only one person reads this blog today I hope it is you.

Parents are invisible except in what you see in our children. With any luck the best of us reflects in our teens. But they are their own people by this time. They aren’t just influenced by us, but by the kids around them and by the teachers and by what they read.

This is about what they read.

And this is specifically for you, my daughter’s Freshman English teacher.

She says you hate her. I told her that you don’t. She says you’re negative. I’m sure you are but… she doesn’t see what you have to deal with day in and day out. Or you might not be negative at all except through the eyes of a frustrated 14 year old girl.

My daughter is a freshman this year. She reads books about drugs, suicide, cancer and mental illness. These books are dark. These books don’t have happy endings. Nobody celebrates at the end.

Her reading list includes: Go Ask Alice, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Thirteen Reasons Why, The Fault in Our Stars.

She is enjoying the section in class about civil rights. Maybe there are a few happy endings there. She was vocal about the chapter on Internet awareness and censorship.

She is frustrated by the lack of discipline among the other students in the class. That never seems to end well. She said she feels sorry that you have to deal with the problem kids. She wishes they would go away forever.

Her fiction, the stories she writes, can be dark. Extremely dark. But her stories are good. Really good. Adult good. But I have to admit she can work on spelling (me too.)

But this isn’t about what she writes. It is about what she reads and your reaction.

Yesterday you mentioned that my daughter reads dark books. You asked her if she wanted to go talk to a counselor about it. Maybe hash out some feelings. I don’t know exactly what you said because I got it second-hand from a peeved off 14-year-old who has been peeved all year about her English class.

You noticed what she was reading. No doubt you noticed that my kid wears a lot of black and too much black eye liner as well.

But the point is that you noticed what SHE, my teen, was reading. You have around 200 students to keep track of. They don’t think you see everything – but you see a lot more than they (your students) will ever know.

She said you told her that she could go to a counselor. It sounded like you almost pushed her to get out of class and go seek help. That pissed her off and she defended herself and said she was fine. Sappy books aren’t her thing.

Then she complained that all you like are fantasy books that she doesn’t like. Then she complained about everything else in broad terms. I don’t think she understood where you were coming from.

Thank you for looking for things that might just be a little off or disturbing. Thank you for looking for patterns that could mean maybe things aren’t quite right.

My daughter complains that no matter how well she does that she gets no positive input. She came from a very very small school with 30 8th graders and then jumped into a school with over 500 Freshmen. It was a bit of an adjustment. It is frustrating. So give the kid a break and sometimes just say “Your story had a lot of grammatical issues but the characters were well-developed. Good start. Work on your grammar.”

Not getting into Honors English was a huge blow. She would have thrived there. She is disgusted by the lack of respect the other kids show the teachers in the “non-honors” classes. She is frustrated that she isn’t close to the teachers like at the smaller school. She is frustrated that no matter how she does that she never gets positive input from you, her English teacher. She loves English. She loves to write. She is good – really good.

I know those last two paragraphs would have received a lot of red marks. In my defense, I’m writing fast, like eleventh hour fast. I’m rambling too… just call it musing.

Listen, I know a little about writing (not just rants like this.) I’m an admin for a highly successful online writer’s group. I am a published author. I also write an odd little semi-popular blog.

I know more than a little about teens. In my blog I cover issues about teens and suicide, bullying, depression, being an outsider and all sorts of problems. I also write about the wonderful and amazing goodness of teens – including their music and culture and humor. Yes, teens are funny. I love teens. That is one of the reason I write a parenting blog.

I also write about Vampires. Yes, my daughter has a shirt printed with the words “My mom blogs about Vampires.” I’ve written a fair amount on the blog and I have to admit that some of it is pretty good (passable.) But this isn’t about me.

A while back I heard an interview of the author Stephen King. He was talking about how when he was a kid he was fascinated by crime and serial killers and other unsavory things. That is exactly how it is with my daughter. She read about things she finds awful but fascinating. One day she hopes to be a Psychologist specializing in teens and tweens with mental illness. Just like Stephen King, she is starting early in her research.

I told my child to bring in Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck or The Crystal Singer by Ann McCaffrey so you won’t worry too much. She said she wants to read Of Mice and Men – one of my favorites but another dark story that doesn’t end well.

So anyway….

Today my daughter is wearing a yellow shirt, blue jeans and maroon shoes. Her necklace is a manatee picture on a bottle cap. On the way to school we talked about Obama Care, the drought and roller skating. We talked about how neither one of us like Little Women. And she told me that she loved me then laughed about some lame joke I made to her.

No black today. I want to tell you not to worry about her, but that wouldn’t be true. Thank you for worrying about my daughter and showing concern. Thank you for showing concern to all of the kids, because I know you do.

Your students have NO IDEA that you are going into more or less a battle zone five days a week for five periods a day. Your job isn’t easy. Dealing with kids (including the shit heads in your class who throw books, call you the “C” word and don’t care about schools) isn’t easy.

That said, you have at least one student, my child, who talks to her parents and tells us about school and about her frustrations and daily battles to get through it. She cares about school. It might not always show but she really cares. Just like it might not always show that you care – but I’m glad I found out that you do.

Once again, THANK YOU for caring enough to say something. Thank you for noticing.

Thank you for being brave enough to teach Freshman English in a public high school.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Be it the click of the metal keys or the click of a computer keyboard...I will write.

Be it the click of the metal keys or the click of a computer keyboard…I will write.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/daily-prompt-one/

24 thoughts on “Thank you for pissing off my teenage daughter…

  1. Well said. I think I would have been one of those when I was that age, but it’s funny, in the early 1960’s at my school no-one was really interested what you read at home.

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  3. And thank you for being a parent that cares enough to write this story (among many other good deeds). My son is a teacher of teens and he says (over and over) that there are far too little parents these days that care enough, if at all!

  4. Pingback: Thank you for pissing off my teenage daughter… | West Coast Review

  5. My daughter complained about the same things in high school. She was in AP classes, but when they weren’t available or didn’t fit in her schedule, she complained about the behavior in her classes. She just finished her BA with a double major in theater and politics and stayed on for a full ride to grad school in theater. She reads dark books and writes dark plays, but is positive, happy and delighted by stretching her intellect. Thank goodness for her teachers who recognized her anxiety in high school and helped her to handle it. There is an end to the cloud if Jen is any evidence.

    • Funny how happy well adjusted kids read those crazy books full of conflict and hard issues. Thanks for dropping by! Maybe your dear daughter can do a creative guest blog post for me one of these days!

  6. This post is disturbing in quite a few ways. Even giving the teacher the benefit of the doubt – that she’s over zealous in her role as a mandated reporter – which is probably a lot more scary in the post-Columbine era, when you’ve got 200 kids to notice.

    What is truly sad is that even in the 9th grade, the most harmless move of a teenager to think for herself and push back against cultural pablum is met with the implication of mental imbalance, which these days so often includes medicating a kid back into lockstep with the herd.

    I survived high school in great part through making it into accelerated English classes – I hope your daughter does too. There I found, not only peers who thought as I did but several key teachers, one of whom especially aided and abetted the taste I had then for profoundly anti-establishment writers.

    It almost sounds like surviving your daughter’s HS requires masking one’s true feelings the way I would only decades later learn to do in the corporate world, but I guess that kind of learning is increasingly the point in “higher education.” Like I said, disturbing post. I hope your daughter connects with the kinds of allies, among students and faculty, that make it possible for a kid to become who they truly are.

    • Thanks for your comments, as always. I was thinking some of the same things. It concerns me that based on the fact that my daughter reads books on the teen/young adult best seller list and wears band shirts her teacher assumes she has “issues.” Sigh. Maybe I should teach English (on the other hand, maybe not.) It is a fine line. Teaching is not an easy job – sort of a damned if you do, damed if you don’t job on most days. Sadly it is the same for the students.

  7. You’re daughter sounds terrific. So does the teacher. If negative. I know how that is since I’m a teacher. This also made me wonder about how my son will be in high school.

    It reminded me how I wish I’d noticed a teacher noticing me when I was a teen. It would’ve been nice.

    • Thanks so much for dropping by. The classroom is a tough place to be – and I wish I didn’t have to even think that. My girl will still think the teacher hates her and she’ll still make an A in the class, but it is frustrating as a parent. Fortunately most of high school is really good. A lot of friends. A lot of discussion. A lot of learning about life.

  8. It’s a tough job out there for teachers. Even in the AP classes there are disrespectful kids … and parents of those kids aren’t much better. I know it may seem like “intrusion” but if I know of several teens who really could use a bit of noticing and I applaud the teacher even if it peeved off Clara.

    • I’m glad somebody notices even if it makes my child get her feathers ruffled. She told the teacher that she was fine – and that was fine – and the truth.

      I can think of too many cases in the distant past (my distant past) of kids who were in horrible situations and nobody said a word. Sigh.

      Thanks for stopping by. Always glad to have you here.

  9. It sounds to me like you daughter is a perfect candidate for home school. Let her choose her own curriculum, let her study what she is interested in and pursue the activities that she likes. I understand her frustration all too well, and I got fed up with it after the start of my junior year in HS and dropped out and learned trade skills, and the I went on to get a Master’s degree. I use the skills I learned working instead of being in school daily along with the high tech, financial and personnel functions I deal with at the office.

    We home schooled our daughter, who is quite a free spirit, let her set her on goals and pursue her interests which turned out to be a challenging baccalaureate. She did a lot of volunteer work and ended up with quite an impressive resume by the time she was 18 and entering the job market. One day she was doing something with her peers and became quite astonished at how ignorant and limited they were in so many things. She called us and thanked us for allowing her to be weird, choose her education and pursue her own interests.

    • I know exactly what you mean by the ignorance. It is sad how many kids are so clueless about the world around them. Those are the ones I hope will meet those teachers who inspire and motivate them.

      We have friends who home school and have had great success but it just wouldn’t work for us. Despite my background BS degree (which was a lot of BS) my successful creative career (which isn’t blogging) and a heavy science and education background I would not make a good teacher. Plus we’d all drive each other crazy.

      She is learning lessons about life and dealing with people who are difficult, with different cultures and different views… plus she is making a lot of friends and getting to know most of her teachers and administrators really well (and liking them).

      Despite my constant complaining I hear more good. It is my job just to stay on top of it and keep her talking to us about it.

      One thing I’m so grateful for are the choices in education parents have now with charter schools and homeschool programs and hybrids of the two. Before high school we were fortunate to find a small Montessori public charter school. Get a good foundation early and give them the tools they need and they’ll thrive as teens and adults.

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  11. Much like your daughter, I had a fascination with the dark books. My reason is, I have a pretty good life and have not had the chance to live out there yet (even though I’m 21). I find that reading books are my experiences in life and it’s the knowledge the books have given me that I bring when I make art.

    During my time in high school, I found that I really dislike the students who were always breaking the rules. There were times where I felt that teachers favored the more talkative students despite their ill-mannered ways as opposed to the quiet but great students. I think differently now, of course, and I greatly appreciate past instructors. I hope your daughter gets to know her English teacher more. I loved all my English teachers and professors and am in constant contact with them. Teachers in general are great inspirations not only in class, but outside.

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