and then there was the sympathetic ear

A couple of days after my last frustrating post, I spoke to a school counselor at A's school.

"I think your school is driving me and my son nuts," I cried. "This is why."

The counselor listened. She was oh-so-patient. She spoke to A directly --- and discreetly --- and lent her ear to his feedback. She was as shocked as I was about A's experiences, and made some recommendations, and armed me with information. Seems she was proactive, too, because things started happening.

I received emails. A was given a treat party at his dorm. The form dean who I initially loathed for his lack of cooperation was finally responsive.

And A's academic grades, which were already good, went up a bit...he became comfortable with BTBSA at some point. He very very nearly made the Dean's List, as well, by a half a point.

Still, I encountered resistance from the form advisor on some things. Boarding schools, even if progressive, are still conservative by progressive school standards. Does that make sense?

Example: A wanted to take Photography in the spring. His form dean said "No." "No room" in his schedule to take Photography. I called the Photography instructor. He couldn't help, he was starting sabbatical, and he recommend that A start approaching faculty with his issues on his own. It seems that that is the BTBSA way. I begun to understand why.

(Note: This is something I like *very much* about b-schools...students are expected to handle their matters themselves without parental intervention, as part of encouraging their personal growth process. These kids' parents will NOT be the ones who call Human Resources at their child's first place of employment to complain about their precious babies' probationary work evaluations!).

Anyway, I told A to talk to the Arts director, and he did. Then A marched back to the form dean, photography portfolio in hand, and said, "Look. Photography is my passion. Please accommodate my schedule. Your arts program is one of the main reasons why I came here at all." The form dean looked at the portfolio, and said, "Um, I am not a photography critic. I am just a layman." Then, miraculously, A's spring schedule included Photography. Oh yes, the form dean had to CHANGE EVERYTHING in the schedule to include Photography, but darn it, the course is now there.

Another problem that came up this winter term is that the form dean stupidly scheduled A's classes straight through the day, past the time that the dining hall closes after serving lunch. Another email from me: "Excuse me? My son does not order in. He eats lunch on campus in the dining hall, sitting down, and for longer than 5 minutes in-between classes. Please fix. Thank you." The schedule was rectified by 10 AM the morning following my email.

Are there social class issues? Yes and no. In the above scenario, a wealthy student would probably order in food from a local restaurant four days a week and blow off the scheduling snafu. Or perhaps the wealthier parents wouldn't be calling to complain about a missing photography course. They could just purchase a photography travel course to the Sahara desert or Papeete and sonny boy would have a nice little exotic exhibit in the school arts center.

I relish the ways I can still participate in my son's life (and be useful as a guerilla educator!).

There is a joy to the process of getting what you want where it is possible to be had.

Tonight, A's uber-Republican roommate, IAAR!, wanted to know why A was playing Somali oud music. "Look, I don't mind you playing that Arab music. But it's weird."


"Yes, hon?"

"IAAR is ridiculous. He thinks Somalis are Arabic because they're muslim. Says it's all the same. I wish he'd be more open-minded."

I really had to laugh.

And how did A learn about Somali oud music at all? Because he DJs at BTBSA on Tuesdays. And researches music. And learned that Hamza el Din, who was Egyptian, attracted the attention of the Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan. Much like Ravi Shankar got a fanbase in that group known as the Beatles. If not for the Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan, A would not be learning about global oud music.

In other news, I've learned that in my ripe 30s, I am starting menopause. No joke. LaMai's FSH levels are off the charts. Turns out my mother started at 38.

Sympathy comments are welcome.