So at the end of March, we get an email from Mrs. E saying that she’d like to meet with us to discuss our “lovely, lovely child.” It’s right about conference time, so I’m not suspicious. Until the day before the conference when Peeta tells us that he did math with Lucy today. Who’s Lucy? I ask, praying that it’s a new kid in his class. But no, she’s his friend. She’s a teacher. Suddenly, I get a sinking feeling.
Then we get home and there is an email from Mrs E telling us to bring in the application forms for the summer school a local college hosts for public school kids in our city. A summer school that lasts for eight weeks, six hours a day. The sinking feeling worsens.
We go to the meeting, and despite the fact that I say There Is No Way In Hell we are sending Peeta to summer school, Bucket insists on bringing the forms. We walk into the class, and Mrs E is there with the reading tutor Peeta has been seeing since the fall, Patty, whom we love. Bucket puts the forms on the table, and Mrs E says, Oh good. You brought the forms. Are you going to send him? No, I say, glaring at her. Why not? Are you going away? Yes, I say, but also, I don’t want to send him away for eight weeks of the summer. He has serious separation anxiety issues as a result of BEING DUMPED IN AN ORPHANAGE, so it would be enormously traumatic for him to be sent away to a place where he knows no one. It’s not sending him away, she says. It’s a day school.
Sweet Jesus. How is this woman an elementary school teacher with so little understanding of children?
And we go on from there. She looks at us and says, Peeta has made amazing progress this year. He’s right where he should be. If you aren’t going to send him to the summer school, you should get him tested for special ed or have him repeat the year.
Bucket and I blink at her. What?
Yes, he’s done very well and he’s right at grade level, but he’s been working so hard that I feel he should be farther along than he is. He should have had a reading explosion by now, and it hasn’t happened. Also, he’s not doing very well in math. He’s having a hard time with word problems.
The following thoughts go through my mind:
1. I am going to kill this woman with my bare hands, right here in the classroom. I will not go to jail, because I will be doing humanity a great service.
2. What the fuck is she talking about? Why would you have a child repeat the year if he’s not failing?
3. WORD PROBLEMS INVOLVE READING, YOU STUPID, NASTY, HIDEOUS BEAST.
Then she looks at me and says, You look so upset! as if she has just told me that Peeta is a Mensa candidate and I’m not reacting appropriately.
So I say, I’m a little frustrated here. All year long, we’ve been asking how he’s doing. All year long, you’ve been telling us he’s doing fine. All year long, we’ve been asking if there’s anything more we can do. All year long, you’ve been saying no. And now it’s APRIL and you’re telling us he needs to repeat the year?
And, I shit you not, she looks at the reading tutor and says, Patty, you want to take this one?
I’m not sure if I have ever been so close to homicide in my entire life.
Patty explains that it’s more of a wondering for her. Peeta has been working hard, but she would also have hoped he would be further along. She’s not sure if it’s because he has a cognitive delay, or if it’s just going to take him longer.
Mrs E jumps back in. He should repeat the year. He has a “glitch”. She repeats the word glitch so many times, I start to wonder if she has Tourette’s or something. Also, he’s young for his age. Not chronologically young, but socially young. Repeating the year is the best idea.
Then she looks at me again and says, You still look so upset!
I start to wonder if I would get a medal for killing her, instead of just getting an innocent verdict.
Bucket and I leave. I am so angry when we get in the car that he asks me if he needs to drive, because he is afraid I am going to drive into something. I say no, unless she walks into the street, and then all bets are off.
That afternoon, I call the kids’ Aunt Julie, reading specialist and All-Around Awesome Teacher. Julie is also enraged. She tells me that she was just reading with him in Ethiopia, and he was fine. She tells me he is not young for his age, he is just sensitive. She tells me not to let him repeat the year, because it would be hugely detrimental to his self-esteem, having worked so hard all year. I am glad I called Julie.
Bucket and I go to meet with the principal. I tell her I am pissed off that this has happened. She tells me that she is sorry, and after she heard about our meeting with Mrs E, she called a staff meeting wherein she informed all the teachers that they are not to recommend retention without speaking to her first. Small consolation. I ask her if she thinks Peeta needs to stay back. She says no. She tells me her kids had Mrs E when they went to the school. I ask her how that went. She wasn’t like this then, she tells me. I don’t know if it’s burnout or what, but she was different.
Well, that’s fucking great. The principal of the school agrees that this bitch is burnt out. Or evil. And yet, here she is, teaching my son.