When I got to work Friday morning, I walked past the library and peeked inside. I saw Joe Cool, his mother, and his 3rd grade brother (Joe Cool, senior - who I taught 2 years ago) shopping at the Book Fair. I got a little bit riled up about this, and vented to Miss W: "He doesn't have a folder or a pencil case or pencils or crayons... he doesn't even have his glasses!!! And she's buying him books? Where are her priorities?"
Now, you know me. I'm all about books and reading and the like... but if the child doesn't have his glasses, how is he going to read? According to a note from mom, the glasses are broken and they're "waiting for them to get fixed." You know what? I wear glasses, and I've broken them before. I have never had to wait three weeks to get them fixed.
Whatever. I chose to just let it go.
So when I saw him about ten minutes later standing in line with the rest of my class, I said, "Hey, I saw you & mom at the Book Fair! What books did you get?" He gave me a blank look. ("Books? What are these things you call books?")
"I didn't get books," he said.
"What?" I teased him. "You went to a Book Fair and you didn't get any books?! Didn't they have anything good?"
He nodded. "I got a pencil, an eraser and a poster."
Of course. Why get books, when you can waste your money on junk?
He showed me his purchases: the pencil was one of those superlong rubbery things that you can tie in a knot (which they're not allowed to use in school). The eraser looked like a hundred dollar bill (cuz it's all about the Benjamins, baby). The poster was some sort of flashy car.
During math class, the money eraser flew across my room, narrowly missing a girl's head. It's on my desk now. Fifty cents, right down the drain.
What kind of message does it send to a child when a parent walks right past the 8 huge shelves of brand-new, affordable, age-appropriate books and goes right for the junk on the table? More importantly, what kind of message does it send when a parent will buy her child whatever he asks for, just to keep him quiet?
The things that frustrate me the most about my job are the things that I have absolutely no control over.