August 27, 2018

the annual asshole parade of one

I've a work friend who reads this blog regularly, and thinks nothing of (and, now that I consider it, likely revels in) phoning me up or shooting me a jaunty e-mail pointing out a typo or grammatical inconsistency.  I'm honestly thankful that he does this, and for the times P.J. does the same thing.  Without them, my writing would resemble baby Swiss.

All of that just makes me even more of an asshole, though.  A hypocritical asshole.

It's the beginning of school.  I've dispensed with the sentimental side of it; now comes the gritty reality, the late bus arrivals and lunch money accounts and sheaf of paperwork that comes home that first day.  Ironically, there's less in the way of forms from high school than there was in the elementary school era.  The stack was missing those requests to "tell us a bit about your kid and anything you think we need to know", which is good because I used to write essays on those things, running sideways into the margins, and I doubt they were ever read because they were clearly the ravings of a madwoman.

Today, there are four simple forms, three of which need some contact information and a signature, and one of which is a half-page slip of paper asking that I sign to acknowledge that I have gone online into the virtual classroom stuff and read the syllabus for the class.

Except that it doesn't say which class.

Me:  "Oi!  Kid!  Which class did you get a syllabus in?  More than one?"

Kid:  "English."

Me:  " .... "

Wait.  Isn't that the class where the teacher is supposed to help them hone skills such as expressing thoughts clearly, including all needed information, proofreading, and reviewing for adequate context?

I'm online reviewing the syllabus now.  Except that it isn't one.  It's a guideline for classroom policies, cell phone usage, what happens if you stick gum under your desk, and tutoring hours of availability.

Oh, wait, here we are.  It's actually on the introductory page, this syllabus.  They're going to be studying ... world literature.  That's a bit vague.  First quarter, heroes and epic things.  Good.  I liked old Gilgamesh, even if it creeped me out when he watched his friend decompose.  Second quarter, Eastern stuff.  Also approve.  And so forth, ending up with Western literature next spring, which will of course receive the bulk of the emphasis because we think we're awesome.

And now I can't read any more, because this page is a fucking train wreck, and I've already identified two typos, three grammatical errors, a demonstration of the inability to construct simple subject-verb tense agreement, and a place where the teacher accidentally a word.

I'm trying to let go of the superfluous commas.  They're like gnats on the page.

I'm a merciless asshole and today, I'm on parade.

Last year was nearly as bad.  One teacher sent home a two-page class letter, and I upset my son because I snapped and marked up the letter with loads of corrections.  Only then did he tell me that she had said to them that day that she wasn't the best writer and asked the students to forgive her little errors.  Turns out English is not her first language.  World.  Class.  Asshole.  And of course, I had marked it all up in pen.

I still don't feel bad for walking around with a pen and adding an "A" to all of the carnival signs at his school that read PLEASE KEEP CENTER ISLES MOVING.  They asked for that shit.

And I managed to stifle any commentary whatsoever when I visited his second-grade classroom and saw that "caddy" was spelled with only one "d" on the bulletin board.  It took a lot out of me, and I think I lost some sleep over it, but I kept my mouth shut.

Even my boss tells me to stop being an asshole sometimes, when he IMs our team and I point out a mistake he made.  That, I just do for fun.  But I take The Kid's education seriously - not so seriously that I feel the need to be all up in the school, intervening and having conferences, but seriously enough to worry about how an English teacher who doesn't know "each" and "none" should be paired with "is" can impart the finer points of distinction that should be provided.

I would hate to be a teacher, any teacher, and see a parent like me approaching.


  1. May Karma spare you the ass-biting it usually provides. HA! I hope The Kid has a great school year! And you, too!

  2. You remind me of my sister. It takes her forever to read a book because she has to analyze sentence structure & wonder why the author stated something one way when it should have been said another way. My kid's 5th grade teacher sent home notes with their & there used incorrectly and it drove me crazy. She also gave her an A+ on an essay even though there were misspelled words & incorrect punctuation. When I questioned her about it she said that she was more concerned about the content and the idea shared than things like spelling & punctuation. Personally I think it was because she didn't know the mistakes were even there. And that was many years ago. I guess it hasn't gotten any better. Sad :-(

  3. Ehh, I'm with you on the asshole thing, that's pretty bad. The English teacher should be able to write a good syllabus...