So today I was blessed/lucky/whatever to be required to pick Hannah from her first detention.
I don’t know what to think of today’s type of detention. Here’s how it works. You receive a nastygram from the school informing you that your child (hence known as the condemned) is required to attend detention on (insert date here). And of course, (insert date here) can be moved around a bit if it interferes with something which is nice, but I will continue.
So, being the totally evil parent I am, I decreed that she should serve her detention as soon as possible, without care for what will be missed since it’s, well, detention. The condemned (Hannah for those of you who were not paying attention) should serve their sentence as soon as possible.
3:30 rolls around and I hop into the Happy Honda Civic and drive over to the school (taking a half hour of the lunchtime I rarely take Mr. Bossman who occasionally reads the blog). Remembering the emblazoned bold type “YOU MUST SIGN YOUR CHILD OUT OF DETENTION”, I stepped inside the Junior High to pick up my ward.
Of course, I forgot today was the first dance of the year. For sixth grade, the dance takes place just after school. As I open the door, I’m blasted with the ever-popular dance song “Y-M-C-A” with a bunch of screaming 12 year olds who are unfortunately out of key. I walk in, find the assistant principal (who, as God as my witness, is named Mr. Hittler) walking around the entrance. I ask him where I can pick up the condemned and he points me to a seat and informs me to wait until they come down the hallway.
As I am sitting there, being pounded with 70s and 80’s music and screaming children; I start to notice something. There are a lot of parents there. Quite a few. More than twenty would be a good guess. We chat and wonder why we have to sign our children out, hypothesize that it’s for their safety, and wait patiently as 12 year old scream “SWEET HOME ALABAM-EE”.
3:55 rolls around (five minutes after they were supposed to be released), and I find Hannah through the crowd and we walk out to the car. Here’s how the conversation went:
Me: “So, did you just sit in there?”
Hannah: “No, we read”
Me: “Read?”
Hannah: “Yeah, it was pretty fun. They had lots of good books to read.”
Me: “And this was detention, right?”
Hannah: “Yes, why?”
Me: “I’d like to know how this was ‘punishment’.”
Hannah: “Yeah, so would I.”
The drive home went quickly, mostly because I’m sitting there wondering why the heck detention is now a “fun” thing and it finally hits me. The punishment was not for Hannah, it was for me.
Now before you stop reading this, hear me out. Most policies in school now demand parental involvement; something I’m all for. But as most schools have a zero tolerance policy for, well, everything; this obviously gets taken to extremes. We just received a nastygram from the school about a week earlier informing me they were going to report Hannah to the probation office for extensive absences. She had missed a total of five days so far this year, mostly due to doctor-excused illnesses (one due to a family wedding) and now she’s being treated like a criminal. So what would the punishment have been for another absence? We (meaning me and Mrs. W) would have to take more time off work to go to the probation office to understand in more detail why Hannah was missing school (which probably would have required the damn X-Rays for the pneumonia they thought she had).
Who gets punished in this case? The kid, who misses more school by going to a meeting with the probation department or us, who has to take time off of work to talk about it in painstaking detail.
Now I’m sitting here wondering what was the point of detention? I had to go into the school and sit and wait and sign her out. Sounds petty yes, but what was the point of detention if (at least for my child) it was fun? Was it to get her to turn in her assignment? Or was it to make it a PITA for me to push my child to do something (which for those of you who know Hannah is like trying to force a cat to like a bath) which has the opposite effect.
Either way, I still don’t like public schools…

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