Finding the funny in parenthood before somebody loses an eye...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Fresh-Picked Fight...

I picked a fight.

I knew it wasn't the right thing to do but, well...I was crabby and she asked for it.

It started out innocent enough - I was just reading my e-mail.   I had received a "digest" e-mail from one of those on-line parenting communities that lists all of the latest topics being discussed and everyone's responses to them.  (I won't name the community...we all belong to at least one and they're fairly similar...)

These communities are the perfect breeding ground for fights because invariably, someone asks a big fat ridiculous question, or makes some incredibly shallow comment, and everyone jumps on it.  Then it turns into a huge angry thread.  (I love it when that happens.  Very satisfying.)

Well someone posted THIS:

   "...I have looked at several public schools, and mentally I am having such a hard time with the idea of my child attending for kindergarten, all of them look like cement-and-chain-link fence prisons. What do you guys think? Will my child be emotionally scarred by the sheer ugliness of those places?"

There were just SO many ways this question irritated me. 

First of all, "yes," schools in LA aren't very attractive.  Aside from the fact that Schwarzenegger has completely bankrupt California Schools and we have NO money at all, we are a BIG, DIVERSE city! If you want freshly pressed, homogenous children popping off a school buses and playing duck-duck-goose on vast, lush, green yards, then move.   Simply move.

Secondly, MY kids attend Los Angeles public schools!  What a HUGE insult to the LARGE group of parents across our city who break their backs daily trying to make public education a viable alternative in a city where the powers that be prioritize parking above a quality education.

And FINALLY, and I may alienate some readers here if I haven't already, but COME ON, lady..."emotionally scarred" because a school isn't pretty?? (This woman could benefit from reading some  good parenting books - here are a couple I recommend...)

You can see how this was a plump little worm shaking it's butt and sticking out it's tongue at a crabby, circling catfish.  I had to bite.

I typed my reply:

..."Yes. Yes it will...and while you're at it, you should also avoid pictures of hungry children."

I knew I shouldn't have sent it.  My finger hovered above the "enter" key for a solid 10 seconds.  I knew my response would result in a barrage of e-mails chastising me for poking at her.  Dressing me down for being cold and flat out rude to this poor new mom.  But I just couldn't help myself.

I hit SEND.

The first e-mail from an angry mother arrived almost immediately   She called me snide and heartless for not being more sympathetic to this poor mother's "very real" concerns.  She was right, of course.  I had been snide.   I began to feel badly.  I had second thoughts about my behavior and rash comment.

So, I posted an apology to everyone in the discussion forum and then I sent a note directly to the mom personally apologizing for being so rude.

The mom I "offended" e-mailed me back and accepted my apology semi-graciously.  In her e-mail, she said "...LAUSD may be fine for some, but fears it doesn't address the needs of kids, like hers, who were ready for more."  The implication?  My kids know...NOT "ready for more."   She had done it again.  She had dangled her big, fat, nasty ol' worm out there.  Its' a** was wriggling right in my face. 

I resisted biting.  My left eye twitched from the need to settle this unspoken score I had with this woman.  She was clearly asking for it, right?

But I'm going to be the bigger person here though and let it go.  I am not going to "engage" this woman further.  We will respectfully agree to disagree.  In fact, I've already practically forgotten about the whole thing...

However, if pictures of hungry children anonymously show up in her e-mail, she totally had it coming.


  1. LMAO...I too will probably offend someone for laughing but the starving pygmies was some funny stuff right there! I am guessing that because the schools there(I'm in KY) aren't aesthetically pleasing that it implies that the teachers aren't equipped to teach. I would have never made that link. I guess I am glad that my girls have a fully mulched playground surrounded by a field of green otherwise they would probably be dumber than owlshit!

  2. oh my gosh- it's impossible to resist sometimes, isn't it? I started a 31-comment thread (no lie) on a friend's Facebook status update once- that was as long and ugly as a rattlesnake. That comment thread could have easily scarred a child for life with its perfect ugliness. But what is the internet good for if not to occasionally dispense our own personal brand of justice?!

  3. @Lucy I made the mistake of putting a semi-political comment (actually it was a joke even) on my fb wall and it spawned 87 comments LOL Sometimes I need to learn to keep my big yap shut!

  4. I have just learned to stay away from those forums. I can't stomach the stupidity that comes across.

    You must be a better person than me because I would have taken the bait on the second comment.

  5. love you, sarah. once again you are spot on. she had it coming and i love that you let her have it so succintly! it is like a car crash, i do sometimes read the ridiculous-ness, but do not have the courage to let them have it. i do not think she would make it inside our cement jungle anyway, wink wink.

  6. I say good for you for saying something because some people really should be slapped for being so stupid. I try to stay away from those because I would not be able to hold my tongue and then I would never get off the computer because I would constantly be lashing back and forth. So for me it is better to read people like you standing up for us all!

  7. the ignorance and sense of entitlement some people carry around with them is always surprising to me. as a public school teacher where funding is always an issue and we're all (teachers and parents) trying to do the best we can, thank you.

  8. Hi Sarah, I too saw this woman's comment on the mom blog. But, it was too hideous for me to even comment on. I WROTE A BOOK about applying to private schools and my kids attend private school. I don't make negative comments about public schools. I attended public school all the way from elementary to graduate school. One of my schools was stunningly beautiful (Topanga Elementary). And, my PUBLIC university wasn't too bad either (UC Berkeley). My graduate school was UCLA. Not too shabby for a public school. Just my opinion:)


    Christina Simon

  9. This was really interesting for me to read about your thought pattern before/during/after participating in the debate. I don't think I'd have had the cajones to hit 'send'.

  10. Good job on restraining yourself, Sarah. Some people are so self-centric that they can't see the good in other options like public schools. But, that doesn't mean we need to follow their inanity with our own.

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. I think it's all about live and let live.

    Entitlement? How about just concern for her child. There are, after all, lots of alternatives. As she was considering her options for public school, public school was obviously the topic.

    I wouldn't say public school is an alternative. It's pretty much the standard norm.

    Maybe her concern for how it looks goes deeper than just aesthetics.

    It seems this struck the "am I doing the right thing (or enough) for my child" cord with other mothers who get defensive about the choices they make for their children.

    I haven't met a mother yet who's never wondered if they're doing the best they can by their children.

    Your kids attend public school. Yeah, so, tell her how great your kids are doing in the school and why you love it.

    And it's not about what she said, it's about your reaction. And why that reaction? What is it really about?

  13. Shannon - I just wanted to address your comment and thank you for taking the time to share your opinion. I love a good debate. :)

    I was hoping I outlined what I was thinking when I wrote the post, but perhaps not. I guess what it came down to for me is the words she used and the concept that if your child sees ugliness in the world, that they'll be scarred.

    It is ONLY my opinion that there is ugliness in the world, and children will see it - they should see it to an extent, at least. HOW we couch it for them and help them process is - AGAIN, in my opinion only - is the difference in whether or not that child will be "scarred". How this woman put her statement just irked me. Of course she's entitled to her point. And I mine. Also, I don't know if you live in LA, but this is a hot topic here.

    Anyway, the beauty of having your own blog though is you get to post your own opinions. This was mine.

    Thank you again for sharing yours.


  14. Like your spunk, woman. I know what you're saying. I used to live in northern NJ and let me tell you, those are what you would call, "aesthetically-challenged" schools. Lots of cement, netless b-ball hoops, not a tree in sight. Depresing? Yeah, a little. But it's also where a lot of our future leaders learn and thrive. I can understand parents' reserve at first sight, but it takes more than the visuals to throw off someone like me.

    And here's the part most parents forget: Those teachers in the chain-linked, concrete jungles are there becuase they WANT to be. It's not because of the paycheck, that's for certain. And I can't think of a better teacher for my child than that.

  15. You edited my comment of the part about you maybe sharing with the woman why you love the school that you're children attend. :)

    Yes, it is your blog and blogs are for individual expression!! I know what they are, but thank you for pointing it out to me. ;)

    I do not live in LA. However, public school funding and educational issues are all over the USA.

    I understand where you're coming from. I see I'm the only one to challenge your opinion and that may feel a bit awkward to you.

    My reply comes from the fact that I homeschool my kids. So I can see both sides.

    Maybe I understand her concerns more than someone who has never considered or researched options other than public school. (Not to mention it's hard to get the right perspective when I'm not reading the threat first hand)

    Hey, I have a lot of Libra in my chart, what can I say? I'm all about fairness.

  16. That's supposed to be thread, not 'threat' btw. lol

  17. LMAO.
    I would not have afford no regrets to what I post and being part of those boards I offend many. It was your opinion. Your entitled to it. Tell the rest of those moms to "bite-it"


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