I haven't posted here for awhile. Things are really picking up steam in my New Job That Is Very New. Funding issues, hiring issues, faculty firing and temporary replacement issues (gah), followed by student issues, travel, a publication due on Thursday (gah again), and of course my normal research and teaching duties connected to this center. But after today, I need to vent, and CM is the best place to vent in this entire World Wide Webz.
Problem Posed (by me!):
Today, the parent of an 18-year-old "special needs" students (TRUTH HERE: VERY LAZY STUDENT WITH VERY GENIUS OLDER SIBLING NONE OF WHOSE TALENT RUNS IN THE FAMILY) cornered me.
She told me that Special Student has all sorts of Special Needs (none of which are documented). She questioned me on how I am accommodating those Special Needs. She demanded to know my lesson plan. She wondered why I don't have my lessons prepared for the next few months. She asked to know why she has not received any of my homework assignments, my reading list, or my syllabus. She is worried about his progress, or that he will get a low grade.
To all of which I responded: FERPA FERPA FERPA FERPA FERPA
(just in more conversational language)
This enraged said mother. And she began to lose it, wondering however in the world I had been hired here, and how I must be so grateful for the job, insulting me, my teaching, my research background, and my personal socio-economic status. Fantastic!
By the end of the day, I was pulled into the Dean's office. And she was there. Glory be! The Dean was somewhat supportive of me, but very political about it, so that it appeared that he was also being supportive of the mother. He stopped her multiple times during the interview to point out that her characterization of my refusal to discuss her son was not, in fact "evidence that Dr Monkey hates him" or "fails to appreciate his genius" or "neglects his inability to find peers in the classroom." (GAH) Okay, great, he was able to shut that down. But no matter how supportive he is of me, the fact remains:
He should not be speaking to this mother. I should not be speaking to this mother. The student is 18 years old, supposedly an adult, and there is NO REASON for us to be rewarding her bad behavior by talking to her.
And so, in true form: Unsolicited Advice to a Mother:
Dear Mum of Special-Needs/Not-Special-Needs-Snowflake:
You need to take a step back. I understand that you are a highly educated woman who gave up her career in order to raise two brilliant (well, one brilliant, and one mediocre) children. I understand that you poured your energy into them instead of developing something in yourself. And so I completely see why you feel it is necessary to move near your children and tag behind them. You have done nothing else with your life, so it makes sense (to you) to continue doing this now. Unlike most rounded parents, you did not give your children space as teenagers and use that time to start doing things for yourself again. And so now there is an enormous child-sized hole that you are unwilling to accept.
Nevertheless, you need to stop. You children resent it. You are becoming delusional. You have neglected to treat others as you would have them treat you, and your manic rages concern me.
I have a suggestion. Get a dog. They are so needy!! They WANT you around. All the time. They NEED you. They cannot feed themselves or let themselves out, and they are social creatures who crave your attention all the time.
Get a dog. Name it something clever. Go to doggie parks and doggie groups and get real nerdy about dogs. Knit it stupid outfits and take it on vacation with you, where you can annoy other vacationers with how much you are obsessed with your tiny dog. Take it to the movies and to restaurants. Then get outraged when they forbid you from coming in with your non-service animal. Post about these events on doggie forums. Cluster with other crazy doggie people.
Get this dog and make fake accreditation forms for it so you can pretend that YOU are special needs, and use your same logic from your son's pretend special needs on the dog -- it has medical certification! It is an epilepsy dog! No wait, I'm partially blind and it's my tiny guide dog! Whatever gets your rocks off. Then take it places and DARE people to make you put it in a cage.
Get a dog. And leave the rest of us alone.