To answer these questions, I would have to start at the beginning. The beginning would be round about the end of 2004, when my oldest, then only 5 years old where in grade 0 in public school. Three months earlier I made my 180 and converted to Christianity. On this particular day, as I parked my car in front of the school I saw her sitting alone on the front steps of the school, head on folded arms, crying.
She had lost her drama teacher on the way to class (a different location than usual) and the school secretary couldn't find the new location either, so Liza was left on her own, outside the school building.
Scene #2: She often tells me that her back hurts and I don't take much notice until one night in the bath tub I see these huge purple bruising all over her lower back and I ask and she tells me again that had told me many times CJ* kicks her in her back every time she goes to her school bag to get something. I go and see the teacher the next morning and find out that this CJ* is a troubled child with a troubled background and that no one can do anything because his mother is quite an aggressive lady. No one messes with
Scene #3: Most mornings as we take the last turn on our way to school she complains that her tummy hurts or she's feeling nauseous.
Scene #4: Ilze comes from little school with bite marks on her upper arm.
Scene #5: Again she comes home from school with nail scratches very close to her one eye and another bite mark. After consulting with her "caregiver" I find out that this situation is actually quite "normal" around the school and that these things happen... I get the idea that I'm making a fuss about something that is not important.
Scene #6: It is prize giving time and the giving out of prizes lasts until after eleven o'clock on a school night. The next morning the class goes on a field trip and I phone the teacher to tell her that I will be letting my children "sleep in" for a bit and I will meet them at the field trip location. Was I in trouble for doing that!? I was told that I did not have the authority to make these decisions and all the school children must be at school on time. Parents do not have this authority and I must comply with school rules and management decisions.
Scene #7: We are on holiday (2007), our last school holiday and I am trying to make up my mind whether to send my children back to an institution where I give up all my God given parental authority to a person I didn't even interview beforehand and know nothing about. So Liza wants to make paper maché and she tells me to phone the school teacher to find out the correct recipe. After not being able to get hold of the teacher, I make my up my own recipe. While mixing the paste I'm talking to a friend on the phone and Liza is jumping up and down and goes into a complete meltdown. I ignore her until I finished the telephone conversation and then she tells me that my mixture is too smooth and that it must be all lumpy like Teacher's otherwise it won't work! I keep my cool and kindly tell her not to worry and that I'm sure our mixture will also work...
Later that day Liza tells me: "Mommy, Teacher's paper maché didn't actually work as well as ours. Our maché is much better!"
And I almost forgot, Scene #8: Teacher needs to go away for a family funeral and three of us parents gets to be Teacher for the day: I always thought that my child does great in school and that her work was above average - that was my perceptions at Teacher-Parent meetings... not so. And when we started to home educate that next year (2008) she was not able to read and couldn't do math. In fact, she hated reading and writing and so we started all over, from scratch...
I am careful not to include my opinions in this post, as I pledged to write truthful and with integrity. This is where everything started, and these are the memories that I have of my children's brief encounter with mainstream school. I will not include stories of kissing games at the age of six or finding my younger child in a cupboard hiding and waiting for mommy to come and fetch her... and a caregiver shrugging her shoulders - one less to worry about...
Tell me, how can a parent protect their child, if that child is not in their own care and supervision? How can you protect your child in a group of 40+ children with an overworked teacher that is absentminded for a few moments?
How can I protect my child?
(*name changed to protect a troubled child)