Monday, March 7, 2011

Pork: The Other White Meat

On Friday morning, we went to register Seren for Kindergarten at our local public school. We have had our reservations about the school in general. But who doesn't? It is the great unknown! And then I have my reservations about just sending my 'baby' to kindergarten! We looked into the school where she currently attends and while we LOVE it, it only offers a full day kindergarten and is quite pricy. As long as Sam is home, we don't really need full day kindergarten. The public school offers a half day program and is FREE and we'd get to know our community better. And I'm a public school advocate.

Anyway, so we already were feeling pretty emotional about this whole thing.

We get there with the requisite birth certificate, social security card, proof of mortgage, utility bill, etc., etc. And this is a whole team experience! Seren quickly gets taken to the kindergarten room where she is playing with other kids. She looks at us like "Hmm. What am I doing here?" We quickly explain and go stand in a long line. Once we get through the line, we stand in the office line. Once we leave the office, we sit down at a laptop to fill out more forms. And then fill out paper forms as well and then go and stand in the line we first stood in when we arrived!

Yah. It was that fun.

Meanwhile, Wyeth is demanding a "momo" which is his word for a granola bar. Since we didn't expect this little trip to be the fun "adventure" that it was, we don't have a momo. Or anything edible. He starts getting impatient. Sam and I start getting really impatient as our 9:30 start time has quickly become 10:30. And then nearly 11:00.

During this fun, Seren is being evaluated down the hall to make sure she knows her alphabet and the numbers 1-10.

Two parents in front of us is another family. Also waiting. Also getting impatient. He, however, is an alum of the school and the staff recognize him! He also is tatted up from head to toe. Lots of big beautiful tattoos. Lots of color.

I don't have a problem with tattoos. I have problem with gang signs but not tattoos in principal.


What I read on his forearm is huge, bold and black tattoo ink made me stop in my tracks. It read:

"I am 100% GRADE A, Pure American, Born and Bred WHITE MEAT"

Hmmm!? Lets re-read that tattoo.

Cue over-reaction on my part.

Is this some Aryan Nation we are sending her too? Does he really think that anyone that isn't White isn't American? Does he really think he is Grade A WHITE MEAT!? Does he really think that? Do his children think that? That no one else of different races has anything else to contribute?

Why are we sending her here? What message is this sending?! I want her to be exposed to many different ideas. Many different people in her life. Many different view points. People of different sexual orientations and faith traditions. I want it all- including the craziness that comes with diversity. I don't want to raise her in a bubble. But I'm not sure a 5 year old can navigate bigotry.

And then of course I'm being completely judgemental in my own thought!

Lets just say that after we finally made it through the 1.5 hour maze of forms, immunizations and tattoos, I cried myself all the way to the office.

I'm not ready for her to be a 'big' kindergartener. And I'm not sure this is what I want. My friends all told me, and they are right of course, that this is one person. The school doesn't think this. Most likely the great majority of the parents don't think this. And my dad pointed out, this man with the tattoo may not even think this anymore. I know all of this rationally. I really do. And this would just be one more viewpoint for her to be exposed to.

BUT...I'm not being rational. I'm being emotional!

So what do you think? Overaction on my part? Or would you too go home and do some googling on home prices in the 'other' district?


Beth said...

Oh Megan--what a yucky experience. Rest assured, though, that there are parents in the private school where Seren goes now who feel the same way. They're just too polite to tattoo it on their arm. (Seriously?) Seren is so precocious--she can handle it. And you say that you want diversity, etc. etc. So this is it. Have you thoroughly researched this school? Heard from other parents in the neighborhood? Heard anything about the principal? What are demographics and test scores? So much to consider--I know. We still don't know where William will go to school. It's all so stressful! Ultimately, I think Seren will thrive whereever you put her. But you have to be comfortable.

LauraC said...

I think I would freak out too. It's not just the bigotry, it's the loss of innocence. I have mourned that quite a bit the last year as the boys understand more about the world.

I mean for reals, they come home saying boys don't wear pink. It's a long tough battle to raise children to be open-minded.

Jessica Phillips-Silver said...

Good reason to overreact, good reason to google other districts... but still plenty of reason to remember that white-meat-dad is not the school. Remind me of this in 4 years, when we're sending Elle to public in DC.

Jessica {Team Rasler} said...

I'm sorry that your kindergarden registration experience ended up being such an emotional roller-coaster. Being a public-school teacher, I'm obviously an advocate of it, just as you are. Of course, though, we want what's best for our kids and sometimes that's not it. In this case, though, I think it's pretty safe to say that bigotry is everywhere, and it's easier to fight when it's right out there like that. It's a lot harder when it's subtle. I think five-year-olds can also think about equality and justice and race better than we think they can. Or want them to have to. It's going to be a big step, talking things over like this over the next few years. I'm a little glad that you're doing it first so I can walk in your wise footsteps in a few years when Sebastian heads to public school!