Off The Beaten Path

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Georgia, United States
Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some people move our souls to dance. They awaken us to new understanding with the passing whisper of their wisdom. Some people make the sky more beautiful to gaze upon. They stay in our lives for awhile, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never ever the same.

Friday, September 28

Looking Back

I got up this morning and it had rained during the night. It is funny, the thing that makes me happiest these days is rain. But it always reminds me of a time in my past when I was looking forward to the new beginning I had chosen for myself and my family. The kids and I had just moved to Louisiana, and it rains there almost everyday during that early spring. It was May, school still had about six weeks to go, and my daughter was in the fifth grade, Nick had just started Kindergarten.

I don't suppose it ever occurred to me, just how different school can be from one part of the US to another. I know that in the back of my mind, I was thinking, [just how different could it be?] Well we soon found out. For one thing they had a uniform that you had to wear. The reasoning behind uniforms is that it keeps everyone on an even plane. I rather doubt that the people who developed this concept gave it any deep thought. Kids will find away to stand out in a crowd, be it new shoes, a pricey watch or jewelry, or just the way they wear their hair. But regardless, in their wisdom they decided that uniforms were the way to go. The uniforms were dark navy blue, and heavy broadcloth. The temperature was in the high 90's with 99 percent humidity. I remember Ana coming home with her face looking red like the bulb in a thermometer. And she hated them. Even if you bought every type they had it gave you no more than five outfit changes in a week, all navy blue, and hot. So she would get up in the morning, and say, " there is nothing to look forward to, I hate school."

They had what they called "candy recess". This was another brainless idea. They take the kids out, place them on spots of ground according to grade and sex, [girls here, boys here, 5Th grade segregated from fourth and so on] and then pass out candy and tell them to sit still. They had long since done away with playground equipment of any kind at the Lafargue Elementary because someone has gotten hurt and sued the school. So there were no jump ropes, no tether balls, no slides, swings, NO nothing. After sitting and eating candy for 10 minutes they would send them back in the school, and tell them to sit down and be quiet. Talk about setting children up for failure.

And then there was the NO talking rule. When I was in school children were allowed to communicate. It taught them how to form ideas and express themself. But in Louisiana in the Parish of Avoyelles, Children are not allowed to talk at school, not even during lunch. I was beginning to think Ana was making this stuff up, so I went down to school. You could hear a pin drop. The only sound that echoed in the halls was the sniffle and sob of a small child who had been placed nose against the wall for talking. I spoke to the Principal, he said he was sorry that the rules were not to my liking, but that he had only been at that school for three years, and the secretary had been there for 25 and she ran the place with an iron hand. If I looked puzzled, I was, why was the secretary running the school? Before I went home I went into the office, and found her reprimanding a five year old for missing the bus. She had him reduced to a sobbing, weeping mass of blubber. I gave her a look that would have melt iron, and told her, "if you EVER talk to my child in that way, you will find yourself knee deep in lawyers." I had this picture of Nick, (who already cried every morning and clung to me when I would take him to school) standing there cringing in front of this woman who had been hired to keep books.

I went home knowing this wasn't going to work, in the first place, there was NOT one computer in the entire school, except the office, in the second place, they offered nothing in the way of physical education, no music program, and they spanked the kids with a paddle that had a taped handle if they talked. I don't think my kids in their life had ever done anything for which they deserved to be spanked in that manner. By the end of the week I had made up my mind, we would move to Georgia, with the kids father, close up the house in Louisiana, and say goodbye to the life that I wanted for my kids; the country, a garden, freedom, peace and contentment.

Leaving California did not work out too badly, it could have been much worse. Ana is now a Senior, ready to graduate, passed her Sat's with a 1600, has been bombarded with requests from colleges, "pick me, pick me." Nick is now in 7th grade, takes the Clarinet in school and does well academically, so it was not a bad decision. But when you hear me speak wistfully of my home in Louisiana, it is for the life we left behind, the good part, the picture I have in my head of my kids running through the yard waving their arms, using dried grasses as make believe swords and yelling at the top of their lungs, "give me liberty or give me death."


Elween said...

it's really not easy to adapt in a new environment. just try, your boy learns clarinet? that's wonderful. too bad, our education system here doesn't offer music lesson. :(

Akelamalu said...

That wasn't a school it was an institution and a bad one at that! Thank goodness you made the decision to move your kids. x

Nea said...

HI Elween, yes schools here offer the children much in the way of arts. My daughter takes voice, chorus, keyboard and my son is taking Clarinet. Kids here in the US are not that appreciative of all that they get for free. Ana didn't give it a chance in Louisiana, but I could understand, it was really bad. And Nick just spent his whole time scared and crying, there is no way he would have learned much there.

Nea said...

Hi Akela, it was more like a military school or something and that is for sure, I know people have a hard time believing how bad it was, but I was there and saw it for myself.

The Old Fart said...

Nea I wouldn't call it a Military School, the school sounds more like a Concentration Camp perhaps. I wonder what happen to the "Lady" that rule with "The Iron Fist". She is probably in some old folks home with no friends.

Cindy said...

Sounds worse than a prison! I wouldn't have put up with it either.

Nea said...

Hi Bill, and I wasn't even exaggerating........haha

Hi Cindy, I really had no choice, did I. And They have a huge drug problem in Louisiana, I think I know why, children trying to escape the reality of their school life.