For the first time in the Wildflower Child's three years of public schooling, she brought home an assignment that I simply couldn't get behind. I'm not talking about core curriculum math or something about religious tolerance or Columbus Day (I've come close with Columbus day). This was something that probably most people don't realize can be a traumatic subject.
My daughter had a three page handout from the teachers that she was to fill out "with your parents help" about her birth story and her family tree. The birth story part asked who was there and the family tree was a blank template that was ordered like this:
And that's when I started to have an anxiety attack.
Any readers of this blog know there aren't many good feelings about my daughter's father. That extends to his family as well. Having to write down the names of people I want NOTHING to do with and have that included in her school project was not fun. I debated for two days before sending the following email to her main teacher.
Dear Ms. Pawlowski,
I was very nervous about how this note would be received. And I know it isn't as polished as I would have liked if I had written it in a less emotional state. I got much less worried when I received the response this afternoon.
Hi Ms. Williams,
I didn't want to make a huge issue, but this was so very important to me to point out to a second grade teacher in 2016. Family doesn't mean one thing. Family comes in all shapes and sizes and colours and combinations. It is vital to recognize the delightful variety that family can be.
I did respond immediately.
Dear Ms. P-,
Yes, I have aired a lot of personal issues in these notes, but I felt it was important to make a point of why a project like this can be damaging. I am very pleased to see that my note has made an impact and perhaps other families can avoid the discomfort that I've experienced due to a simple blank template that made assumptions about my child's life.
So that's how I became "That Mom" and made a little difference. I hope that other parents aren't hesitant to stand up to what they think is right. As long as they aren't being dicks. Because, don't be a dick.
Best part of this whole experience was talking to Wildflower Child in bed tonight and her saying that she has "A mom, and grandparents, and... kind of... but not really... a dad. He's not around much..."
She's getting it. But she's okay. As I tell her often, it's her and I, forever, and always.
I'm Kirsten. Some things you could label me with; tattooed, geek, mama, animal lover, weirdo, nerd, writer, movie and TV addict, lazy, ambitious, insomniac, feminist, LGBTQ+.