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Roger N. Meyer "...of a different mind "
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 Copyright 1999 Roger N. Meyer

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     [This is a post I sent to a parent who shared her anguish in seeing her son, the perfect angel at school, come home and unravel nightly.]


     Something about these posts, about kids melting down after what the school folks call "perfect days."


     Even knowing our kid is no different than another parent's still doesn't soothe the hurt and the pain. And for our child.....?


     Uncomfortable as this proposal appears, and heartless, perhaps, let me suggest something that works, something that really hits home to the doubting teacher or the smug administrator.


     We know our kids behave differently at home.  After a while, the difference is expected.  What isn't necessary is the continuance of this, and the only reason we "tolerate it" is because the school folks aren't convinced.


     What to do?


     Well, some of us have hired psychologists and other experts to observe our kids at school, and then, if we have the money or the smarts, at home.  But then we just engage in a pissing contest, our expert against "them," and for every year, for every new teacher and new school, we go through the same, inane exercise.




     Heartless as it may seem, I suggest making a record that can't be "scripted," or made up.  It has all the drama of filming an accident as it happens, and all potential of betrayal and cruelty if done with a vengeful heart.  Unthinking critics can call it that.  I call it "making a record."  Records aren't only for the good times, the parties, the kid who is enjoying himself or herself, seemingly unbothered by the rolling of the tape.


     Records that convince are records of our children in their meltdowns, in the look in their eyes of confusion and loss of control after having spent a day hanging on in gargantuan daily marathons of control.  Custodians in institutions used to do this to condition their staff to treat inmates like wild circus animals, as if the staff just by being there needed convincing that their inmates were less than human and deserving of less care.  Psychology students, today's experts, also do their filming and taping in efforts to document their theses, and demonstrate somewhat the same lessons, this time to their academic peers and thesis committees.


     What is our hypothesis? What have we to prove?


     A simple thing.


     That our children fall apart upon escape from their daily torture chambers at school like divers with the bends.  Divers who come up too fast and must be placed in decompression chambers for hours, hours for each foot of uncontrolled ascent.  And our homes, our other children, and we, we are witness to it all.  We are witnesses through a large glass window, a window not affording the real diver in pain in the real chamber that privacy that preserves dignity.


     This is not footage for celebration.  It is footage for proof.  Proof that the school environment is so toxic to our children that their Jekyl and Hyde character can finally be played out on the real stage, to convince that doubting audience of parenting and family critics.  Our children, caught like deer in the light of an oncoming car or a powerful flashlight, frozen for those moments of time we'd much rather not see, but must.


     And so must they.


     Bring pictures of your children to every meeting.  Not wallet pictures.  Pictures that dignify their stature and your love.  Pictures showing their gentleness as well as their confusion in contexts other than a forty two student classroom.  Images to convey the whole person to these roundheads, these persons convinced that they have the lock on reality and the truth about our children.


     Let your children's pictures, their voices, their movement convey other words, words we only begin to mouth before the time for the conference is at an end.  Words not yet out of our mouths while they unfurl their agendas and stake the high ground.


     Establish the ground rule of your meetings with every one of them, almost in the same manner opponents or allies often offer praise to a higher power before joining in combat or collaboration.  Let the images of your children become the opening prayer, and let them not forget why you meet, across that table, across that chasm of understanding.


     Simple things make strong bridges.  Smiles break stones.  An image of pain and confusion brings a whiff of reality to their fantasies of control.


     Introduce your child to them, each one of them, and let them remember your child as you experience him.


     Then, get down to business.


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This article is copyright, all rights reserved by the author, Roger N. Meyer.  It may be reproduced in single copy once for personal use, and in no more than ten copies total for educational purposes.  Fair Use is authorized for all purposes and under conditions established by US Statute and the International Copyright Convention, to which the United States is a signatory nation.  No person shall publish, distribute, copy, or by other means make this material available to others for purposes of personal gain or professional self-aggrandizement.  Individuals wishing permission to exercise other than fair use or limited distribution as outlined above must contact the author, in writing, and receive explicit written permission from the author prior to engaging in further use of this material.

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