Be cool, Stephen. Be cool.


Be cool, Stephen.  Be cool.

I’m repeating this mantra as I excuse myself from a meeting, rush out into the hall and call the wife.

“What the fuck is going on!?” I demand as she picks up and starts to recount the incident giving rise to the ‘Jaleel choked Chima in school today’ text on my iPhone (which I was reading surreptitiously until I got to that line and flew into a fury).

Be cool, Stephen. Be cool.

I’m trying to check my inner rudeboy as people from other offices stream past me in the hall.

I growl into the phone: “Where was his teacher?” “What were they doing?” “Who is this Jaleel?” “What EXACTLY happened?” The questions stream rapid-fire from my lips.

Be cool, Stephen. Be cool.

“In the back of the line.” “They were on their way to music class.” “He’s a boy from his class.” “That’s what I’m trying to figure out.” Come her responses in equally rapid fire fashion.

“Where was Miss Lennon?” “Where was the class aide?” “Why was Jaleel putting his hands on Chima?” More questions, I’m not satisfied.

Be cool, Stephen. Be cool.

Through the phone I hear my wife ask, “Chima, where was Ms. Lennon?” My son answers, “She was in the class because Ms. Paris was out sick.” Ok. That answers the aide question too. Understaffing, Ms. Lennon doesn’t play that shit.

More eavesdropping, “Chima, why was Jaleel touching you?” Son: “He said I cut him in line.” Inaudible contribution from the big sister chiming in with her two cents, no doubt. Cutting in line, choking.  This kid is clearly fucking troubled.

Be cool, Stephen. Be cool.

Ok. Chima’s talking, so he’s fine. “No bruises, I hope.” “No he’s fine.  He just had the remnants of tears streaking down his face.” 

“Did he tell anyone?” “No.” My son’s got tear trails down his face and no one even noticed?  WTF!

Be cool, Stephen. Be cool.

Tomorrow, I’ve got a date with the principal, the teacher and a little boy named Jaleel (at whom I intend to glower until he gets the point). 

I hope I remember my mantra.

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1 Comment

Filed under Parenting

One response to “Be cool, Stephen. Be cool.

  1. Tai

    It’s difficult being a parent these days, let alone of a minority child in a public school. Hell, any school for that matter. As I read this, I could feel your anger, your frustration with how the school failed your son, your wife and you. Safety in our schools is a growing issue that I believe should get more attention. Remember when our generation was in middle school? (sounds like that’s where your son is), you would never have had something like that go down without a teacher or disciplinarian being all over it.

    Keep the rudeboy in tact and call the school to task each and every time something like this happens. There is usually a negative inference in the saying, “the squeaky wheel gets the oil” but in this case, it’s necessary. Having grown up in Elizabeth, I thought that Duluth, GA would be a safe place for my son to attend school. Boy was wrong! I sent him to high school as an honor student who was also a top performer in the honors chorus, and they gave me back a (!*@#!!) Gangster Disciple!!!!

    Even in the most affluent neighborhoods, the schools are plagued with drugs, sex, gang activity and violence. It’s not safe for teachers, other professionals and certainly not students. I know, I put a lot more into this post than what you discussed, but I just feel where you are now because I was there too and high school actually got worse. To make matters worse, there are a lot of troubled kids (like the one who choked your son) in school and the schools are just way too understaffed to address these issues. What helped me when I started this journey, I looked up rights they quote in their own student handbook and code of conduct. Hope it goes well and your boy gets through the rest of the school year without incident.

    Like

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