So yesterday I get one of “those” phone calls that parents dread. Admittedly it was rather low on the scale of parental dread. One might reasonably say it was close to the bottom of the dreaded scale, but it is on there. AYD had been escorted to the front office by the principal, and was cooling her heals there until a parent could come in and sort stuff out. Her life of crime had begun.
In most junior High Schools all the students are treated like criminals, but only some rise to the challenge. AYD graduates from junior high in two weeks, so she is making it in just under the wire.
Calling in the parents is one of the most significant punishments that can befall a junior high student, and it prefaces all of the more severe punitive actions. When your parents are called you are in trouble; you have done something quite wrong.
There are significant consequences to parents being called in. Tooele is an outer bedroom community for most folks; the average commute-to-work time is in excess of 30 minutes. This means that many parents are expected to take an hour off work, and the student is expected to sit for at least one class-period in the office.
The office has large windows so that the student is on display to their peers throughout the interminable wait time. The bell rings and hundreds of students rush past the offender-on-display; some linger long enough to make obscene gestures. There are some sociopaths that would revel in the attention, but in most adolescent minds this is cruel and unusual punishment.
What had AYD done to deserve this punishment? Was it some valiant gesture of defiance against a fascist dehumanizing system, or was their cruelty and torture involved? I found it hard to picture AYD engaged (or at least being caught) in either of these types of actions, but I was hoping for the first.
When I was in junior high school there was this one fellow who skipped classes for almost an entire semester because the material being taught was “worthless and patronizing”; to compound the insult he spent his class-skipping time seated in the hallway of the school reading books on esoteric sciences. He only returned to class when he was invited to continue reading in the junior high hallway throughout his repetition of 8th grade, which he would be doing if he did not attend class long enough to complete at least some graded material. The administration wanted students in classes as long as they were not a danger. Was AYD a danger to her fellow students?
After spinning up the possibilities in my mind I was not prepared for the actual nature of her offense. AYD was dressed inappropriately.
I am not the best judge of “appropriate” dress for a 14-year-old girl. I try, but it is a skill I have no intention of using for very long. I tried to circumvent my need for it at all by suggesting that both AOD and AYD wear hospital scrubs till they graduate the 12th grade, but that was apparently “not happening”. I know that if I dressed myself from AYD's wardrobe it would be wildly inappropriate regardless of what I chose. Now my lack of attention had forced AYD into a life of crime. It is always the parents’ fault.
Luckily I was working at home, so I took a camera and rushed over to the junior high school with some dungarees and a sack-like shirt for AYD to change into. This is a picture of her in the school's front office, and this is the apparently inappropriate outfit she was wearing.
I was shocked at my ineptitude. The outfit actually looked appropriate to me; especially given the fact that it was 86F ( 30C) and the AC in the junior high was not working well outside of the front office. How could I be so blind as to not see that AYD was dressed as a harlot, and presented a danger to all the boys in the school? I read Great Expectations once. Just because the school might champion some Dickensonian imagery does not mean they must bow to them all. What vile boy-crushing monster had AYD become, and why could I not see it?
I began to think : “luckily the school administration can look at AYD and see her as a provocative female”, but then I thought…no…that is extremely creepy. I tried to think: “luckily the school administration can look at AYD though the eyes of hormone addled teenage boys to see her as provocative”, but then I thought…no…that is weird-creepy.
So I began to imagine some teacher thinking inappropriate things about AYD, and she being punished for it. Imagine sitting in a class where you knew the teacher was literally looking through your clothing to see you as a provocateur? I began wondering if transferring her to a new class in the last two weeks of school would do more harm than good.
It turns out that the principal himself had personally identified her as inappropriately dressed. He had walked up to her during lunchtime and identified her crime where nobody else could. I can’t help but think that the principal’s action creates an unhealthy atmosphere in his school. What does it say to the teachers who had her in class earlier in the day, and not noticed her inappropriate dress? Will there be punitive actions taken against the teachers who could not look at my daughter with perversion in their eyes?
Is AYD safe?