Helicopter? More like laser guided bunker buster.

Thursday, June 08, 2017


I've become that mom, ya'll. The one who calls people and demands things.

Well, I mean I was always kind of that mom but my justification was that she was still in K-12! She needed me! I had an obligation!

This all started over a month ago. Em - now a high school graduate - got her orientation notice from her selected school. The selected school wasn't MY first choice because I am all snobby about my own alma mater and how superior it is to all other schools and why didn't she want to go to UVM when she was accepted there???

Ahem.

So she selected a different school and I had to let it go since these are her decisions and my job is to empower my fledgling adult.
The fledgling adult




















Fair enough.

So we get this postcard about orientation and we say, collectively, "We are not flying you out East for a one day orientation since we are about to plumb new depths of household poverty starting July 1."

I ask her to call the First Year programs people, who shuttle her over to Advising who gives her the most convoluted run around I have ever had the displeasure of listening to second hand.  As it was May, she couldn't make an appt to speak with an advisor because she had to wait until June. Once June came she *could* try to make an appt but it was doubtful since all the advisors were working with the orientation groups.

Through that conversation I glared at Terrance who kept saying "What? Why are you looking at me like that?" in a nervous way.

I held my tongue. I did not intervene, although I immediately knew that this was bullshit and if my kid didn't register she would have Zero classes come whenever the advising office got around to calling the "didn't come to campus for orientation" students.

I waited until June. I asked if she'd heard from anyone. Nope. They sent her an email with the helpful (not) instructions to attempt to schedule an appt with an advisor.

This morning, we sat down and tried to schedule the appt. To the surprise of no one, there were no appt's THROUGH JULY 28TH.

Through the attempt at scheduling, I continued to glare at Terrance who, once again, repeated "What? Why are you looking at me like that?" in a nervous way.

My nostrils flared. "That's it. I'm calling the advising center myself", I declared.

Emily got off the bed and perched on a chair across the room. Terrance simply exited to the downstairs.


The advising center staff attempted to give me the "You have to schedule an appt. and yes, they are all busy with orientation so you'll have to wait..." spiel.

"So, what you are saying is that because she is not on campus to attend orientation, she will have to wait until August to register because no one plans on students not attending this not mandatory orientation? What you are telling me is that a student who is local is privileged over a student who CAN NOT FLY THERE to attend your one day orientation and no one has made a contingency plan for this?"

The advising center person cared not one iota. "No one has ever brought this up before", she lied directly to my face.  "I suppose you could talk to the Dean's office."


Ya'll recall the moment in the movie 300 when the Spartans laugh and go kill 4 million more people before their own deaths? Yeah. Punting me to the dean's office felt exactly like that.  

"Oh. Yes. Transfer me to the Dean's office." 

Emily shifted nervously in the chair across the room. 

The Dean's admin assistant was calm and collected. She handles a million parents.  She listened to my question and said "Oh, let me transfer you to the Advising center."

"Wait." I said, firmly. "They just transferred me to you because they claimed that no one in the history of orientation has ever expressed a concern about their child's inability to register and that we would have to wait until August to get an appt with an advisor. I do not think transferring me back to them would be helpful."

It had to be something about my tone that shook little alarm bells. Not even a raised voice, but a subtle rattle of danger alerted her to the fact that I had the potential to unleash a minor Kracken. 

"Just a minute...."

And just like that I got the Dean's academic coordinator who assured me that the Head of Advising would call my kid tomorrow to help her pick out classes.

He was cool, he was funny and he handled me beautifully. As we were ending our conversation, I confessed "I've become that mother. I'm sorry. I should know better, I'm a professor at UWL..."

He laughed and reassured me that it was all right, he understood. 

Em came over and hugged me. "I'm sorry", I said, "sometimes I can't help myself. My instinct to fight for you is deeply ingrained and I have to remember to let you do this for yourself."

Later Terrance ( gently) chides me, reminding me that she has to solve this stuff and I agree. 

Some parents do these things because they believe that their child is a special snowflake and all should recognize their genius. Some do these things because they, themselves, are bullies. In my case, it is a deeply ingrained habit of having to fight for her right to have educational opportunities with every IEP renewal, every honors or AP class.  

It is hard to shed that role, although I acknowledge that I must.




4 Baleful Regards:

SUEB0B said...

I am on team Dawn with this one. Mindless lying bureaucracy makes me pop my cork, as much as I may try to bottle up my feelings and tamp down the RED ANGER.

I am glad you finally got The Guy who could help and was personable. I had that day, too. My IT helpdesk has been giving me the runaround - my computer has been not working since Weds, which means I am not working - and I finally found the one kind, funny extrovert in the IT dept who hooked me up with a loaner. Thank goodness for these few people.

Unknown said...

Hah! As long as you don't start "fighting the dorm dining halls" or calling her profs to complain about a grade, on her behalf, you probably aren't yet "that mother", and won't be ��

Go mom!

Nichole said...

I think this was definitely one of those situations where a parent DID need to step in. The important thing is that you teach her when to get more aggressive herself (I think that might have worked here as well, because that "no one's ever complained" is pure MALARKEY) and when she needs to call in reinforcements. It's good that you know when you need to sit on your hands and not be PITA Parent, but it'll probably make you feel a little better KNOWING that Em knows when and how to do it without your help. Like, maybe quiz her on how she'll handle it the next time someone pulls some bureaucratic bullshit?

But you know that stuff will occasionally come up while she's in college that you will have to step in and handle, and that's totally okay.

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