On Valentine's Day, my son was hauled into the office at school and lectured on having created an inappropriate Valentine's Day envelope. I went to the school yesterday to talk to the lady administrator involved and to get the envelope. This morning I wrote an e-mail to the principal telling him we were appalled at the idea of our son being punished for so innocuous an enevelop (to see the envelope, click on my previous post). Thankfully after sending that e-mail some sense came to light in this issue, but before I tell you about that, I want to post part of the letter I also wrote this morning to the female administrator responsible for punishing my son. (I snipped a few entire paragraph and used . . . to show where I removed text for length purposes.)
After seeing Jared’s artwork and discussing it with my husband, I want to go on official record and say that we do not feel Jared’s Valentine envelope is inappropriate in any way. You mentioned that Jared put a shepherd on a horse, and I guess you see that as a problem, though we fail to understand why. In actuality, Jared, cut off the staff and put it in the church so it would NOT be a shepherd, just a guy, a comedian, on a horse, but he did ask me last night, “Mom, would there be something wrong with a shepherd on a horse?”
No, absolutely not. A guy who owns sheep might just have a horse, too. I’m not sure if you are seeing something sacrilegious in his putting a figure who once was a shepherd on a horse, but we don’t see the connection. Nor does our son. It is because it’s a rocking horse? He just thinks of it as a horse.
Your main concern seems to be that the boys were excited about candy and that their projects had no relation to Valentine’s Day. This should not be a problem. In fact, we compliment the art teacher for inspiring such creativity! My husband and I believe that this should have been a fun day for the children and should be continued in the future. They didn’t make fun of their classmates, disrupt class, or endanger their salvation in any way. Valentine’s Day is not a sacred holiday. It is not related to scripture and really doesn’t need to be. It is about friendship and fun, and that’s okay. There will be enough hard and serious things in life—let the children have some clean fun! (And if we need any proof that God has a sense of humor, just look at the giraffe.)
My family has been at [this school] for thirteen years . . . For the most part we’ve had wonderful experiences, and we enjoy the conservatism . . . However, my son’s trust (and ours) has been damaged by what we see as unnecessary discipline and subsequent neglect. Instead of inspiring trust and respect, there is only fear on Jared’s part and incredulity and some defensive anger on ours.
I know you are sorry about how Jared has taken this . . . but we are concerned about how it was handled. In fact, we believe it shouldn’t have been addressed at all. One serious concern we have is that if my son had really been so terrible as to need to stay in the office for over an hour, we should have been notified. Certainly in this case, he needed an advocate who knows him and cares about him.
Okay, back to the regular blog again. Most of this I also wrote in the e-mail I wrote to the prinicipal this morning. Almost immediately he called me back and told me he was so sorry this happened, that he felt terrible, and that there was absolutely nothing wrong with Jared's envelope. Whew! Finally some sense. He asked me what he could do. I told him jokingly that she should have to miss lunch completely like she made him do and write an essay on why she shouldn't have punished the children for having fun. More seriously, I told him that it was enough to know that he would talk to her and that something like this would not happen in the future.
I also requested that if my children need direction in the future and if she is involved, that I be notified immediately, and that she talk to my son about this issue only in my presence. Quite frankly, he's afraid of her, and I can't blame him. There's no excuse for having my son sitting in the office for more than an hour without calling me. Over the years, I have mostly enjoyed everything at this school, but this was a real concern. I mean, a bad teacher might crop up now and again, but they are always let go rather quickly--being a private school, there is no union to protect rotten teachers. But this was something else altogether. I had to know if this was the direction the school was heading (fanatical), or a mistake by one woman. Thankfully, it turned out to be the latter.
I still haven't decided if I'm going to let her apologize for making my son miss lunch and class for so long (which later caused a good deal of homework to make up and more frustration on his part). I mean, what's the point if she doesn't admit she was wrong in the first place? She remains convinced that the boys have committed some grave error.
Oh, and BTW, I also e-mailed the art teacher commending her for encouraging such creativity as I saw in the other boys' Valentine envelopes. Yes, one or two might be considered a little much for this conservative private school, but you know what? I thought they were extremely creative. How can you punish that? Especially when it wasn't hurtful to anyone. In the future the school should definitely refer to parents for such matters. It really isn't in their job. Thankfully, I think that's the direction they're headed.