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Worst Case Scenario

September 30, 2011

So, I pulled my kid from her fantastic private school and enrolled her in the fantastic community elementary school down the street. My friends have all told me that I am crazy, and by that I mean making the “crazy” sign and using language like, “you are making a terrible mistake and you will be sorry.” I know there is a very good chance that in January I will show up at the door of the private school, the school where I am keeping my son, where he is flourishing, with my hat in my hand and a giant helping of crow to eat, begging them to take her back. And they might not. And yet I pulled her.

I said it privately, and I’m saying it publicly: the school is a great school, they handled the situation with the boy who was picking on her as well as they could have. His mother is a prince among women, and I can only hope that if I were in her situation I would show as much class as she has shown. I hope she and I can salvage a friendship out of this; I think we can. If I had it to do over again, I’d pick the same school.

The principal is someone whose judgement I would trust with anything. Her teacher is fantastic, like a teacher in a movie, and I mean the kind of movie I never see, the kind where no one sprouts extra legs or eyes or turns into a flesh-eating robot 20 minutes into the film. The kids in her class are all great kids, even the one who tried to push her off the bleachers. It might well have been my kid pushing another kid off the bleachers. I don’t blame my friends for telling me I am crazy.

But still, I pulled her.

She was horribly unhappy. I could tell. She’s been unhappy all year. We couldn’t put a bead on it until a few weeks ago, but she was miserable and terrified, and I made the choice to believe her, and to believe in her.

Chris explained it like this: “It’s almost impossible to evaluate a scenario with an extremely low probability and an extremely high cost.”

He and I might be wrong. We might be a hysterical mother and overprotective father with a paranoid and delusional daughter. I am sure we are — but what if we’re not? I hope we’re wrong, and I’m glad we will always be wrong and that we will never be proved right.

If I pull her, the worst case scenario is that she leaves a wonderful learning environment where she is unhappy to face the unknown of a very different learning environment which people I know and respect tell is is great. The worst case scenario is that I have hurt the feelings of her wonderful teacher and principal, and pissed my friends off. And even in a worst case scenario, I can’t imagine my friends not forgiving me.

If I don’t pull her, the worst case scenario is too horrible to contemplate.

So I pulled her.

I’ve already been through a highly improbable worst case scenario once already, and so I no longer have the luxury of thinking that the improbable is impossible. Even so, I can’t go through life making major decisions based on the lesser of two worst case scenarios. It’s a horrible way to evaluate options.

Nevertheless, I pulled her.

I pulled her to teach her that when you are unhappy, and you have tried to make it work and it’s not working and you can’t see a way for it to work, you make a change. I pulled her to show her that I believe her, and that I trust her judgement. I pulled her because I want her to know that it’s better to be safe than right, and that when she is mortally afraid of a boy who she feels has been cruel to her and who has hurt her, the best choice — the only choice — is to leave.

Do I think her fear is warranted?

I don’t think it matters.

From → Uncategorized

  1. doris permalink

    I so agree with this choice. We had a similar situation with my son and a teacher and heard ourselves telling him how to handle potentially dangerous situations. And then realized that is not the job of a child and it is not the job of the one in danger. We did our job and pulled him out the following day. Getting out of the dangerous place is. I think you are doing the only right thing.

  2. Aunt Lee permalink

    The only worry is that the abusive boy might have been only one problem and another exists that she cannot bring herself to tell you or doesn’t understand herself. But you and Chris are such good parents, listening closely, and talking to her and to each other with thoughtfulness and care, so I trust that you will be on the alert.

    Twill be hard for her to be the new girl when her confidence is at an ebb, but the situation of a new school holds the possibility of her developing resilience in a non-frightening way. That would be a tremendous payoff for her.

    As for you and Chris, you don’t have to be right. You made a loving decision, and that’s what counts.

  3. joel permalink

    All future candidates for Mother of the Year in any nation on Earth will have to somehow come close to your level of greatness before they’re allowed to progress to the finals. I mean it.

  4. Wow! You both have that parental sixth sense!
    I heard via my personal grapevine that Katherine is very happy with your decision to move her to a neighborhood school. That alone is validation for your decision, which is neither right nor wrong… it’s just the decision that had to be made in this situation, and it has the best possibillity to lead to more happiness and peace of mind.

    That’s my judgment.
    May all beings be happy, at peace and at ease.


  5. It is our job as parents to provide the guard rails. You are reinforcing the guard rails for your daughter. And you are proving to her that you hear her and trust her and support her, no matter what. That is what good parents do. I am inspired by the courage you and Chris have shown in this.

  6. Kate permalink

    Your children are so lucky to have you two as parents.

  7. Kay permalink

    I think you made a very wise choice. Friends who are really your friends will show the same trust in your judgment that you have shown in your daughter’s. Friends who don’t are perhaps to be let go of. Showing your daughter that you would not go along indefinitely in a situation that was intolerable for her is going to mean a lot to her now and in the future. Good for you and your husband!

  8. julia permalink

    Not to worry….I agree with you as well! You are not crazy for looking out for the happiness and safety of your daughter! Good for you. —Julia

  9. What they all said.
    My 43 year old daughter at age 11 was really unhappy in her very posh school whose lower and middle were, for other children, the of the best. She was miserable. We thought she had learning disabilities or something, had her tested. Psychologist said “What a lovely daughter you have. Too bad she is soooo unhappy in her school.” 6 months later, having been moved to a different (public) school, she was so happy that her handwriting had become legible, fluid, smooth…….. One of the best decisions we ever made.

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