This came up at the Goose household yesterday. The Cat Who Walks Alone is taking an ice skating unit during P.E. this quarter (she’s a junior in high school). (And before we get sidetracked into, “Ice skating? We never had ice skating when I was in high school!” I will say that the school district is in deep money trouble, they’ve failed twice to get a bond referendum passed, it doesn’t look good for the third attempt coming up this spring, and high school P.E. has already been selected as one of the first programs to be cut for next fall. So.)
They take a school bus down to the Civic Center during the P.E. class period, which since they have “block” scheduling, is 85 minutes long. The P.E. class period takes place at the same time as four of the lunch periods.
Today, for some reason, the Civic Center won’t have any ice (they have dog shows and gun shows and flea markets there, too), so the P.E. teacher told the kids yesterday that if they bring a note from home excusing them from P.E., he will allow them to go sit in the cafeteria, instead of spending the entire class period sitting on the bleachers in the gym. He can’t simply allow his P.E. class to go hang out in the cafeteria, but he can wink at a “note” that says, “Please excuse my daughter from P.E. class today, as she has a doctor’s appointment.”
However, it can’t be a note that says only, “Please excuse my daughter from P.E. today,” because then she would be expected to stay with the P.E. class, which will of course be sitting on the bleachers. And Mom can’t give her a note that says, “Please allow my daughter to go sit in the library during P.E. class”, because that’s not how it works. She’s supposed to be in P.E. class, somewhere.
He has to have a note that has a reason for her to leave the school, and then if she’s caught hanging out in the cafeteria, instead of being in the gym, he’s off the hook. He can shrug and say, “Well, it’s not my fault if she decided not to do the doctor’s appointment, or brought in a fake note.”
Last night (late last night) I refused to give my daughter a note saying this. I said, “It would be a lie. You don’t have a doctor’s appointment. I’ll be happy to give you a note that says, ‘Please excuse my daughter from P.E. today,’ but not for a fake reason.” Tears and hysterics. “I’ll be the ONLY ONE there, everybody else will have a note…”
I told her, “You can ask Daddy in the morning and see what he says.”
So this morning we snagged the Better Half on his way to work and we all Discussed the Issue. And his response was, “Sure, why not?” I was shocked. “B.H., that would be a lie. The Buck Stops Here, with the parents. How does it look to our daughter, to see her parents, the Sunday School teachers, writing a fake note?” And then I got to bring in the Slippery Slope Defense, which I don’t get many chances to do, :D, “If we start there, then what’s next? What else will she expect her parents to lie for her about? What if she and I are riding in the car, and she’s driving, and she rear-ends someone again, and she’s already got one ticket, and she’ll lose her license? Will she expect Mom to trade places with her, and we’ll pretend like Mom was the one who was driving?”
He said, “Well, if she gets caught sitting in the cafeteria, who suffers? Us? No. Her? No. The teacher? Yes.”
I said, “Huh? If she gets caught sitting in the cafeteria, we, the parents, suffer–we get caught having written a fake note. And she suffers–she got her parents to write a fake note, and then she cut class, is what it amounts to. She knows perfectly well she’s supposed to be in a class somewhere, not hanging out in the cafeteria.”
He said, “But she’s got such a good record, she’s a straight A student, they’d never do anything to her.” And after a minute he said, “Well, except for that time in the 8th grade when she got into that fight…” I said, “Uh-huh…” And he said, “And, actually, she brought home some Bs last quarter, Chemistry and Pre-Calculus…” I said, “Ah-ha, grades slipping, cutting class, that’s how it will look. Then next thing you know, they’re asking her if there’s trouble at home, dear?’”
He said, “But the P.E. teacher would get in trouble.” I said, “No, he’d be absolutely off the hook. He can’t be expected to verify every note that every student brings in. He can just say, 'Wow, what an amazing coincidence, that the day there’s no ice at the Civic Center, every kid in my class has a doctor’s appointment.”
I said, “The P.E. teacher has a responsibility to provide an activity for his class. If there’s no ice skating, then it’s his job as the teacher to find something else for them to do, not just have them sit on the bleachers.”
He said, “At the Post Office lately, they’ve changed the rules, so that if you call in sick, you have to bring a note from your doctor. It used to be that you only had to bring a note if you were sick more than 2 days, but now it’s on the very first day. You have to bring a note from a doctor if you miss only one day. So people are basically forging notes from doctors, because it’s dumb to have 1300 hours of sick leave accumulated, and you want to take a day off for a bad migraine, but what’s the point of going to a doctor for that? So you forge a note. And the supervisor winks at it, and everybody knows what’s going on. So, isn’t that the same thing as this?”
I said, “No, because you’re forty-something and you’ve had many more years of experience in working your way through the gray areas of life. Also, it involves getting around what’s generally acknowledged as being a dumb rule, that’s only there to be a rule, not to help anybody. The rule at the high school about having to have notes to get out of class is there to help people, to make sure kids are where they’re supposed to be, and that they’re not just hanging out in the cafeteria. Also, nobody young and tender is watching you folks down at the Post Office to see how you handle things. The Cat is watching us to learn how to handle things, and I think she would learn a bad lesson about honesty from her parents. It’s bad enough that she’s learning a bad lesson about honesty from her teacher.”
So–anyway, the upshot of all this is, the Better Half had to defer to me, because as the Bible says, “The brother without scruples has to defer to the brother with scruples”, and he said, “Well, if you feel that strongly about it, then sorry, Cat, you’ll have to sit on the bleachers for 80 minutes today.” She wept, helplessly. I said to her, “How likely is it you’ll really be the only one there?” She had to admit, “Well, no, probably C. will be there, her mom probably won’t give her a note either.” (This is someone she’s known since First Grade.) I said, “Well, then, you can sit and talk to her.” “Oh, Mom!” [wail of despair] “Talking to C., she’s like–it’s like talking to a 3-year-old!” Horrors. :eek:
Well, so, what do the Teeming Millions say? Should you give your kid a fake note to excuse her from P.E. class?