My Daughter: In Trouble Again

Oh, I so dearly love my daughter. I’m missing her a lot right now. She called me yesterday to tell me about her bad day at school. She has lots of bad days at school. She’s feisty and outspoken, and she’s going to a small, rural high school in a rather closed-minded area of Arkansas. Imagine this tiny, punky kid with died hair extensions, crazy clothes and assorted piercings walking into a classroom full of farm kids each day. Sigh…my girl.

So, newsflash… she got suspended. Again. Keep in mind that she has one of the highest GPAs in her school. She’s very bright. But, somehow, she manages to mess up now and then. This time, it was by using her friend’s cell phone in the school bathroom because her ride to work had fallen through. She was trying to make desperate, last minute arrangements. A teacher walked in right in the middle of her conversation, and BOOM! My little darling daughter was immediately escorted to the principal’s office. So was the girl whose phone she used.

She cried, she begged, she explained. She didn’t try to get out of the in-school suspension. She was trying to let the principal know that this was in no way her friend’s fault. She told him that this was entirely her doing and that she’d take whatever punishment he gave her, but to let her friend have her cell phone back. She even told him that she’d stolen the phone from her friend’s purse, and that the girl didn’t even know that it was gone. The principal didn’t buy it. He’s making the girl’s parents come and get the phone. Her very mean parents. My daughter’s worried about what they’ll do to her friend when they find out.

It’s hard to help with these things long distance. I told my daughter that I wished I could hug her and buy her a cup of cocoa. I looked the friend’s parents phone number up on Infospace and gave it to her. She’s going to call them and explain that this was all her fault, and see if she can diffuse things a little.

“Wait Mom. It got worse.” She told me that she had to go to the office to find out the date of her suspension. It was supposed to be today. The day she was scheduled to go on a special field trip for kids who’d scored really well on some state testing. She’s been looking forward to it for weeks. “Mom, I lost it. I just totally broke down,” she said. The woman behind the desk took pity on her and rescheduled the suspension for Monday.

My daughter then had to go back and talk to the principal about the fact that the LAST time she had an in-school suspension, the teacher in charge of the suspension room gave her a hard time for not standing for the Pledge of Allegiance. She’s had problems with this before, as you can imagine. I’ve always told her to stick by her principles, but to be prepared to back them up. This teacher told her that if she didn’t stand for the Pledge, he’d report her and she’d be given an even longer suspension. My daughter challenged him on this by presenting him with a copy of the student handbook, which defends a student’s right to quietly not stand. This made him angrier, and he gave her a very hard time. She took the handbook to the principal today, a preemptive strike to avoid another confrontation with the same teacher over the same issue. The principal actually agreed with her, told her he’d talk to the teacher, and that she would not be harassed.

It’s hard to watch her struggle while she figures out life. And as her mom, I’m more proud of her than upset. She’s learning to correct her mistakes, show loyalty to her friends, fight her own battles, and she has integrity. Have I mentioned how much I love her?

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13 thoughts on “My Daughter: In Trouble Again

  1. Brian says:

    Kudos to your daughter for having the courage to stand (or not) for her beliefs. I hated saying the pledge in school, so would often stand and pretend to mouth the words as the rest of the class said it.

    We are one of the only countries on earth that does this type of thing. Texas even has a pledge to their state flag that students must recite every day.

  2. randomyriad says:

    Public High Schools are like small junta run countries: most of the people who live there are powerless. Its sad to think that a person can’t use a cell phone to make arrangements. My children run in to this stupid beaurocratic mindset all of the time. And, what are our high schools teaching kids about democracy and personal responsibility when they handhold and rulemake them to death. Your daughter sounds like a young woman who is trying to run her life and they are getting in her way.

  3. Brian: Thank you. I’m really proud of her. Not just for this, but for so many other things. Once, she was in a class where everyone was screaming for the death penalty for these two young school shooters in Arkansas. My daughter said, “I can’t believe that you think that it’s okay to decide who lives and who dies.” The teacher slammed his hands on her desk and (erroneously) yelled, “Jesus said, ‘An eye for an eye.’”

    My daughter looked him in the eye and yelled back: “Well, Gandhi said, ‘An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.’” My little rebel.

    RM: My kids have always run into that too. It makes it very hard for them, because I’ve always taught them to treat others with respect and to expect that for themselves. There seems to be a major power play going on in schools–a lot of the rules make no sense, there’s favoritism, and the kids aren’t always treated right. It’s made for some interesting conflicts over the years. And geez, some of the teachers are just idiots. But, in a way, it’s a microcosm of the bureaucracy they’ll have to put up with as adults, so maybe it’s good practice for them to learn to effectively deal with it now. Frustrating though.

  4. This is heartbreaking, a young person who is doing what is right and is being punished for it by ignorant authority figures. The Jesus vs. Gandhi story was excellent, I can see why you’re so proud of her. And how terrifying that a public school teacher is speaking for Jesus.

    And that’s a great photo, by the way.

  5. It happens all the time in that area. It seems that most of the teachers and administrators are channeling Jesus. I seldom have gotten mad at my kids for getting in trouble at school, because I usually think they’re right.

    Last year, my daughter was paying some school dues, and a teacher reported her for passing COUNTERFEIT BILLS! The principal and vice principal took her out of class, searched her locker, hauled her into the office, and tried to force a confession out of her. At that point, she had no idea why she was there or what she had supposedly done (they wouldn’t tell her). She was terrified. They made her dump her purse, her pockets, and her backpack, which all turned up nothing. Then they called the accusing teacher into the office to ask her if she’d seen the new ten dollar bills. She said she hadn’t, so they showed one to her for future reference. My daughter put all of her stuff back, and left the office. She felt so humiliated. None of these bozos ever apologized to her. No wonder she’s counting the days until graduation.

  6. Ms. McQueen,

    I’m afraid I’d sound pretty ignorant if I offered any advice about your daughter or support or anything else, really. But I wanted to say how much your love and support shows through when you write about her. I do know she’ll be fine with such strong love in her life. And she’ll eventually find/make a better living environment.

    I also enjoyed your writing immensely. Thanks for discovering my site so I discovered yours.

  7. Little Miss says:

    You are a great mother. Very wise and loving. I didn’t experience American high schools, so I don’t have first-hand experience, but for my daughters it was hell. I think you are doing a wonderful job supporting her and helping her to make her own way in the world and think for herself. My favorite quote is “to thine own self be true”. I, too, let my daughter have pink and purple streaked hair.

  8. Beth: Thanks for stopping by! I’m really enjoying your blog. I love it that you’re sharing your experiences–I hope to learn a lot there.

    Little Miss: Thank you. I gather that you’re originally from England, and am wondering if we’d actually be able to verbally converse! Actually, a southern accent is supposed to be closest to a British one. I too subscribe to the “to thine own self be true” philosophy. My children are great examples of this. I’m so proud of them. You sound like a great mom too.

  9. WildKat says:

    You should be proud of her! At that age a lot of people spend their time trying to fit in and be exactly like everyone else. She is being the individual that she is. Most people won’t get to this stage until university or later. She is obviously mature and responsible enough stand up for what she believes in, and was being responsible by trying to get to work. I can’t understand what exactly she did “wrong” here. If there was no cell phone use allowed in the school and she explained to the teacher who caught her why she was using it then the very most they should have done was give her a warning that she shouldn’t do it, or tell her she should use a payphone, not get her suspended for trying to get to her job that day!

  10. Little Miss says:

    Actually, MB, I’m American. I just lived my whole teenage years in England going to English girls schools, and then a very small international school. So, my years where I was learning like your daughter is to find my way was in a very different culture from American high schools. Although, I was over there when the whole punk rock phenomenon started up. No… I didn’t put safety pins in my nose. LOL. But I somewhat understand the piercing stuff they do today.

    Oh, and what’s funny about accents is I had to study and take exams (voluntarily) in speaking with a British accent and I learned all the British spellings and so on. Now I have to write web copy for a British audience and I remember nothing! Well, very little. )

  11. Wildkat: I agree with you completely. I know that school staffs are overloaded, but I wish they could take things on an individual basis. Sometimes a lot of them don’t seem to think very clearly and are way too punitive. My daughter has a good head on her shoulders (most of the time), and I just can’t be mad at her when she gets in trouble for stuff like this. She was doing what seemed right at the time.

    Little Miss: Thanks for the explanation. What an interesting experience that must have been! I’ll bet your educational experience was fantastic. And I would LOVE to have been in England during the punk movement!

  12. Pat Riot says:

    I KNOW!
    Lets all be different and do whatever we want.
    Complete anarchy is a GOOD THING!

    Of course, someone has to grow food, clean streets, make electricity…

    I’m so different that I look and think just like all my “friends”.

    “and in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

  13. Gee Pat, you seem a little um…angry. Love the Beatles quote.

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