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Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Wee Bit of Ugliness Upon Which I've Been Ruminating

mountain laurel

The photo is there to offset the ugliness. It's not the ugliness. It's a pretty mountain laurel.

Here's the ugliness.

A few weeks ago, I was out on the soccer field, helping my neighbor with team pictures. Maybe it was the baseball field. It's been a busy season. It doesn't matter. What matters is that there were a bunch of kids and we were wrangling them into awkward poses for their spring sports photos.

One of the boys was being, well...a boy. He was probably 7 or 8 years old. He wiggled. He squirmed. He got the giggles. He made silly faces. You know...like children that age do. Someone made a snide comment about how his parents might want to look into medication for that wiggly boy. I made the comment that he was just being a boy - I'd get the photo.

And I did. But not before hearing another one of the moms say this:
Listen. I teach second grade - believe me when I say we'd like to have them all medicated. That's the only way we get anything done in school.
I stopped what I was doing and just looked at her - expecting to see some cranky, evil looking cartoon lady standing there, but she just looked like a typical mom - just like me. So I thought maybe she was joking. But she was no comedienne. She was just a normal looking, nice-seeming lady who happens to think that all children should be medicated.

It absolutely killed me. Here was someone who was not only in charge of her own children, but of the 30 second graders that she looked after 180 days a year. The ones she couldn't deal with unless they were medicated.

And it started me thinking. I remember, way back in first grade, we had one of our boys evaluated for any kind of learning disability or attention deficit disorder. There were no neurological tests to see if something was going on in his brain - it was all based on surveys - of us, of his teacher, and of an educational psychologist. Thankfully, none of those involved in my son's evaluation shared the attitude of the lady at the sports field - he didn't need medication, just a little change in OUR thought process of how we deal with his unique personality. None of us were strong advocates of medication, either - I counted that as a blessing. His second grade teacher was not quite as confident of our decision, and it was a very difficult year, one of the reasons which prompted us to homeschool full time.

Now, imagine that there's a boy like my boy in that lady's class - actually a boy like either of my boys...one wiggly and talkative, the other dreamy and distracted...I believe that particular teacher would strongly encourage medication.

Then, take it one step further and realize that she's just one of a multitude of teachers who think the same thing...that second grade boys (and girls) should be required to sit in a classroom all day, with a 20 minute recess, and a lunch period, without wiggling or talking or squirming or losing focus or giggling or occasionally falling out of their seats for absolutely no reason.

Sure, that's what grown ups do. I think we can all expect that high-school students are able to keep their backsides firmly planted in their desks. But even middle-school-aged children can struggle with that, from what I've seen.

I don't really have a conclusion here - it's just been sitting in my brain and wiggling around up in there for a couple of weeks and driving me right bonkers, and I thought I'd try and release it into the ether. I know for a fact that there are children who absolutely need, because of some neurological reason, medications for ADHD. They benefit from it, as do their caregivers and educators - their lives are enriched for having access to medical treatment.

But this woman's attitude is dangerous and unhealthy - it connotes a desire for the drones to maintain their steady droning. At the risk of exposing even more of my nerd side, I couldn't help but picture the Borg ship and their relentless motto, "Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated..."