It's 3am and I found myself wide awake and my brain churning. Thoughts running rampant, trying to sort out the feelings I have about Porter and school. My mind is racing with what should I do, am I doing the right thing, am I overreacting, am I being ridiculous. I need to write it out. I need to list it all.
Right now, for various reasons, I'm considering homeschooling or sending my kids to private schools. This is something I never... ever.... ever... thought I'd consider. I'm a teacher by degree. I've worked in public schools and I am far beyond a helicopter parent who wants to shelter my kids from any little harm they could get in this world. However, I feel like things have compiled to make me consider other options.
My biggest concern is Porter. Porter.... at school he's the friendliest, kindest, most loyal friend to others that I know. He goes out of his way to shovel the neighbors driveways and sidewalks when it snows. When the neighbors dog gets loose, he runs outside to get him and take him home. He's helpful. Kind. Goodhearted. Social. In kindergarten, I remember going into school with him one day and he said hi to every adult that worked there that he passed. Teachers from different grades, the gym teacher, aides. He was Mr. Social. He was- and is- friends to everyone. He gives up his snack if someone in his class doesn't have one. He goes out of his way to do nice things for them. He risks his mothers wrath and stays with his friend on the playground after school because his mom is late and he doesn't want him to be alone. However, his choices in friends kind of....sucks. I don't know how to put this nicely. He's a great student-- academically, socially, and behaviorally. He doesn't get in trouble. He follows rules. But the kids he gravitates towards... do not. This is isn't something new... I've had concerns since Kindergarten. And, as he's gotten older and I've become more involved at the school, there are other issues that have been raising red flags to me.
-Kindergarten.... he talked all the time about a 1st grader "G" who always seemed to be in trouble, or making bad choices.
-The one child in his class, "M" that had all kinds of rotten behaviors- belching in my face one day while I was helping a little girl tie her shoes, talking rudely to adults etc- is one he started to gravitate towards.
-First grade- he continued sitting by "M" at lunch, and playing with him on the playground. We had many many discussions about choosing friends, and who you decide to hang out with can affect how others view you, and you have to make good choices in friends or you may find yourself in trouble even if YOU weren't doing anything wrong.
-Second grade was when I really became concerned with SCHOOL, as well as friends. 1. His class was a bit... disorganized. I volunteered in his classroom one day a week, for the entire morning before lunch. He had a student teacher for part of the year, which compounded the inconsistency in his classroom. One child had an MP3 player in class. There were tons of distractions- a handful of kids who were just... off the wall. During writing assignments I couldn't help but feel like.... Porter can do better than what he's doing. He isn't putting forth enough effort because there isn't structure here. He's just "getting by". He's capable of more.
-I ask the boys every day... "Who did you sit with at lunch, kiddo? Who did you play with a recess?" I want to know who my child is choosing to spend their time with. The boy in his 2nd grade class, "T", that he gravitated toward as a friend this year, knew more things than a 2nd grader should know. It broke my heart, but also.... I don't want MY child exposed or hearing some of these things. His dad had been in prison. He stole from Porter. He talked back to the teacher. He refused to listen to the teacher. He put forth zero effort in his work and just scribbled. The teacher told me at the end of the year that "T" was acting up more because he didn't want school to end and to be at home. I'd discussed with the teacher if he was someone I should encourage or discourage Porter to play with/continue to be friends with. He said Porter would be good for "T" but never let Porter go to his house. My heart ached for this child but.... as a parent of my own child I have to protect MY child. I felt like Porter was always going to have these friends he chose that I didn't allow him to hang out with outside of school. And, as he gets older.... its going to get harder to discourage these friendships as peer pressure rises.
-2nd grade, a boy was talking to Porter about SEX. He came home and asked what it was. What the actual hell. SECOND GRADE!
-Last year I had to stop the boys from riding the bus to and from school because the things I heard them say the 6th graders were talking about on the bus were so inappropriate. Cussing, sexual words, threats to each other (not the boys, but other kids on the bus) etc.
-3rd grade, I went on a field trip and in my group there were 4 kids. A little boy and girl who were super sweet, Porter and another boy "D" who was a wild child.... as in, teacher having to ask him repeatedly to do things, him refusing to listen to the teacher, throwing a tantrum, etc. Who does Porter talk about playing with? THIS child!
-On the bus home from the field trip, I overheard another boy, "G", who was sitting in teh seat across the aisle from us say multiple totally inappropriate things. Mentioning something about "Condom candy" to the boy he was sitting with. Joking about his friend (the boy he was sitting with) "licking his penis and liking it HAHAHA" I was so appalled. I said something to him numerous times and then the teacher did end up taking him to the front of the bus (along with "D" who was getting in trouble on the bus too).
-The girls in front of us on the bus had her mom's iPod and were looking at half naked black and white model pictures of men on it and giggling. THIRD GRADE! I'm sorry... but 1, why are you keeping sexual pictures of men on your phone (celebrities and the like.... you know, like you see some people Pin on Pinterest as "eye candy") and giving it to your child to take to school???
-Hudson rides the bus from his school to Porter's after school so I can pick them up in one location. Hudson told me one day a boy on the buss called him a "Mother F@$#er"
-Porter- 3rd grade- goes out to recess with 6th graders. Doesn't this seem like a bit of an age gap to be playing unsupervised?? 4th and 5th graders are together for recess.
-Porter told me he was threatened during "Fun Friday recess" (an extra recess) by a 4th grader. He was talking to his friend and this kid butted in, and Porter told him not to be rude and the boy told him "You'd better not talk to me or you'll be lying on the ground with a bloody nose/mouth (something like that)"
AUGH! As you can see.... its not just one incident. And honestly, I can handle bullying/mean kids. I can handle that. And my kids are no strangers to swear words... I'm not mother of the year by any means. But our society put so much sexualization in EVERYTHING and I'm starting to see the trickle down effect... its not just parents who let their little girls dress like mini teenagers... its the sexual things kids know about, hear about, think about.... and it grosses me out. I want my children to be CHILDREN for as long as they can be. I don't want to have to explain to my 3rd grader what a condom is. I don't want my 3rd grader oogling over sexual pictures of the opposite sex. And, I don't feel this way so much about HUDSON'S experience at school... he's in 1st grade right now and I haven't had one concern about friends/kids in his class etc. He plays with 2 little girls most often, and they take stuffed animals to school and play with them on the playground. I haven't had any red flags with him- yet- other than the kid on the bus calling him a MF'er.
The hard thing is.... I don't dislike the school or school district. I have no problem with the teachers or the curriculum. I have FRIENDS who send their children there who have totally different experiences and who love it there. I KNOW there are great kids that go to the school because I know their parents. I want more than anything to LOVE where I send my kids to school. I WANT to send them off to public school and feel they're safe and learning about age-appropriate things and not having access to the minds of children who have been corrupted by their parents/home environment. I know private school isn't going to shelter them from all of this either. There will be naughty kids there. I know homeschool won't hide them from the horrors of the world forever, and to be honest it could totally trash our parent/child relationship because I honestly don't feel like I'm cut out for it.
I don't know what the solution is right now. I do know I've had this nagging feeling for the past year that this isn't working. I don't know what to do, or where to go. I could discuss all these concerns with the principal but honestly.... are they going to follow my child around and make sure he's not hearing inappropriate conversations at school on the playground? No. Is it going to change how other parents are parenting their kids at home? No. Is it going to change Porter's choice in friends he plays with during free time? No. Its all things that CAN'T be controlled that are the problem.