Photo Credit: New York Daily News
I don’t know if this story has been playing anywhere outside of Massachusetts. If it isn’t, let me explain:
A 5 year-old brings a toy gun to school, not for any particular reason, but he brings it to school. The toy gun is very obviously a toy gun, not one of those toys that looks like a really good replica. This thing is very easily identifiable as plastic and fake (with the big orange stopper on the end and everything). He takes it out of his pocket to show a friend. He ends up at the Principal’s Office. The principal suspends the kid for half a day. Mom, Christina Stone, goes to the school and is upset that her precious baby would be suspended for such a thing.
Stone says when she and Jonah were meeting with the principal and a police officer, the Connecticut shootings came up. She says Jonah asked her, “What happened in Connecticut?” Stone said she was forced to explain what she had deliberately kept from her son.
“My heart really, really breaks for Sandy Hook and it’s different for every incident. Let’s face it, it’s been going on for years. But I don’t want my child to have to be having that put in his face,” Stone said. “Because that age group doesn’t hear about this type of thing, they don’t understand that this is going to scare people.” Source
Yeah, but you know, and you understand, and that’s enough, lady. Who doesn’t know that in this day in age, where a national conversation is happening about gun proliferation in our nation and gun violence in our communities, you don’t have your children bring a toy gun to school. Why does your 5 year-old have a toy gun to begin with? Another post for another time.
But here is the kicker:
Stone says she and Jonah will meet with the superintendent Friday for a disciplinary meeting, and she plans to appeal the suspension.Source
Wooooow, really? Really?
There are so many school communities in this country who, after Columbine, went to a zero-tolerance policy regarding guns, real or fake, in school. There have been stories about kids being expelled from school for bringing toy guns to school. Some kids have been allowed back to class while others have not. At the school where I used to work, a student brought a butter knife to school and was forced to leave (The school was going to expel him, which has legal ramifications. Instead, they withdrew from the school so that they could at least continue to go to school in the district). This woman, instead acknowledging that what her son did was wrong and that bringing such a toy to school is inappropriate– and in the current context, unacceptable–is choosing to waste people’s time by fighting a half day suspension. Half day. Not even a whole day.
I have a real problem with non-reflective parenting, especially among those who clearly have the capacity to be so. There is nothing about this woman that screams over stressed, under appreciated, or struggling. This is a woman who decided not to think for a moment, it resulted in embarrassment, and instead of owning up to the mistake, she is doubling down. What is she teaching her son about integrity? About mistakes? She should be using this as an opportunity to talk to her son about sensitivity to others in the community.
And, as I write this, I just learned that the school district reverse the ruling. The boy won’t have to serve the half-day suspension. I’m so disappointed. I feel like we just justified another over reacting suburban mom and give other such moms the green light to do the same. We have to be better than this–for our children.
Here is what that boy learned today:
1) If I do something stupid, as long as my mom is mad about it, I probably won’t have to face consequences for it.
2) Consequences are subjective and optional. If you make enough noise, you probably don’t have to face them.
3) Certain people in this world are subject to consequences for their actions. Other people (mainly, White and middle/upper middle/high class, don’t have to).
4) When faced with any sort of scrutiny, more likely than not, institutions like schools will back away from decisions they have made.
5) The squeeky wheel gets the grease–and that is positive. (Even though, in truth, that is not always the case.)
It is ok to be an advocating mama from time to time. We all have a right to make sure that our children are given a fair shake, and sometimes that requires intervention. But without reflection, parents can cripple a child’s sense of fairness and justice if they are always stepping in to fight the unnecessary battle. I have a feeling that this mother will be waging every battle that she possible can as her son takes step after step in his life. And for that, I feel bad for him.