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The Death of the Middle Class Soul

Monday, November 08, 2010

By Aurore B. Reales


Meandering among those picturesque houses, we slowly arrived, our disorganized selves. Entering the castle of otherness, where it all seems so perfect that seams are bursting and the puss is about to explode… We were invited to dinner.


Robot, the husband, in his vaguely discomforting mixture of success and self-hatred, kept himself on a self-constructed pedestal where he contemptuously looked down on us with helpful tips on how to lead our lives, unaware of his unsympathetic tyranny.


The invitation to such talk was apparently my recent parent-teacher conference with my son’s classroom teacher. It didn’t go so well, since the teacher told me I should have him assessed for ADHD. Not only that, but apparently she thinks he has an attitude of not caring about school and no insight into how her attitude may very well damage all his future chances for college and later success in life.


I asked her if she had a rapport with him, knowing my child is conscientious and cares, if anything too much, about all sorts of things.


“Children should be busy and aren’t they?” Robot again. His daughter crying on the way to piano lessons on the days she is not taking swimming lessons – the best in her class and isn’t she pretty? Poor thing refuses to eat.

“Even in our household…”, the wife begins. “Even in our household” betraying her true need for friendship with me. Well, too true… we don’t have much household to speak of. Their marriage a sour and cynical affair where the players can’t even conceal their contempt for each other when a guest is around. Tension creeping up and threatening to strangle us in the middle of the meal. “See, I can’t cook anything, nothing is ever good enough.” “My wife is too lazy to drive the kids to their classes and comes up with all kinds of excuses.”


Yes they are just as concerned about our public school. Frankly it is too much for me. Even the teacher has the timbre of the ghetto. She is white, I’m not trying to be racist here. I’m talking about the American Anger. I can’t take it anymore.


When we first moved here I never wanted to have my kid go to a secluded white European private school. I wanted him to learn the real American society. But that was before I was confronted with the reality of it. Now it doesn’t feel like a safe environment I should expose my kid to. Children don’t get the attention they need, let alone the education they need. School cuts lead to large classroom sizes and unhappy teachers, and the building is dirty.

The school yard atmosphere is rough, tough and harsh, lots of bullying.


Boys are being ostracized. Normal active, bright boys are labeled hyper and the ADHD accusation flies around too often. The kids are not supposed to question, but to follow. They are stuck with mind-numbing repetitive tasks that they quickly see through. Still they are supposed to walk in line.


“What are you reading kid ?” He asks my son.


“Mostly mangas.”


“What are mangas?”.


“The old story of the battle between good and evil like in the ancient myths, excellently drawn,” I inform my opponent.

And he means no harm, he probably thinks he means well.


Upside down world. I think we would not be so obviously different if we still were in the seventies. I mention something like that with a sigh. I decide to give my son a haircut and remember my friend, a psychologist who lucidly said, “Parents who don’t love their children, buy them expensive clothes.”


Why would you put so much time on the surface of things when nothing underneath is right? We may be disorganized in my small family and have our issues, but we are emotionally clean, mentally strong and most of all, we know how to love.


Another kind of poverty and decay is to let go of those values.

 


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