General Question

rossi_bear's avatar

My son just came home from school and was very upset. what do you think about this?

Asked by rossi_bear (753 points ) November 21st, 2008

he was going to forced to watch a movie about cancer and he could do it because his great grandfather has just passed away from cancer. and that is what the movie was about. it hits to close to his heart so he was told to go to the office and he got in to trouble because he refused to watch it. what would you tell the school on monday?

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51 Answers

googlybear's avatar

What you said here…he didn’t feel like watching the movie because it was too close to home and he needs some time to recover from the traumatic experience…sorry to hear of your loss…

rossi_bear's avatar

thank you googlybear. it was just 6 years ago but they were very close and my son was young when his great grandfather passed. we was there for the whole thing. so it brought up bad memories. i don’t think that they should have marked him as skipping a class. he was in calss and they told him to go to the office, they said he skipped it. and that is not what happened. he was there.

Raggedy_Ann's avatar

This one hits VERY close to home having just lost my mom in March…I would contact the principal and arrange a meeting (preferably face to face) with you, your son, the principal and perhaps the teacher. Explain the situation, from you son’s point of view. If that doesn’t work then I would probably go to the school board.

jrpowell's avatar

I would talk to them. And I wouldn’t worry about the skipping class thing. It isn’t like he won’t be able to get into college even if somewhere on his record it indicates that he missed a class.

EmpressPixie's avatar

I wouldn’t worry about him not watching it. Talk to the school though, and make sure you take his side strongly. It’s really important—especially in middle and high school—for your kids to know you have their back. You have a chance to be a super mom, especially since you understand why he couldn’t watch, so you should take it! You don’t get those chances often. When you talk to the school, I’d tell them why he didn’t watch it and that you fully support his decision.

My mom was a great advocate for me when it came to middle and high school. It’s definitely one of the things I will always appreciate.

bodyhead's avatar

No offense but, if there’s cancer in the family, he should probably be learning about exactly what it is and how to treat and/or avoid it. I don’t know how old your son is, but you might consider watching the video with him (or something similar). It seems like he could use the knowledge more then anyone else in the class.

About skipping the class, don’t worry about it. It’s just one mark on a meaningless piece of paper. I don’t even know why you are going to meet with them. They can’t really do jack against you or your son. If they press you or make you or your son any more upset, I would tell them that you’re going to call the local news and tell them about the situation. That’s usually enough to calm school employees down. If they don’t back down, call the news. Don’t use any threats you aren’t ready to follow through on.

loser's avatar

I’m very sorry to hear about your loss. I’d go down to the school and raise some hell though!!!

flameboi's avatar

That they are supposed to be open minded about this kind of situations and that they should not force the students to do things that stand against their beliefs or judgement….

rossi_bear's avatar

he is now 16. but as i said he was very close to him. we was there when his g. grandfather passed. and i don’t think that he is ready to deal with it. he is total tears right now as it is! they are in the wrong. see his has a perfect attendance and he is worried about this too. i am going to go to the school and the board. thanks for your help!!

bodyhead's avatar

The local media will take your side. I’m just saying. Make them understand.

I’m with Pixie up there too. Make sure you totally get his back. Let the board and your son know that you are in full support of your son.

Raggedy_Ann's avatar

I agree with Pixie. Make sure that your son also realizes he did nothing wrong and that you support his decision 100%.

rossi_bear's avatar

you bet i sure will! he watched his g. grandfather suffer through all this and my husband and i have his back 100% all the way!! thanks for all your help!

nikipedia's avatar

Wait, his great grandfather died of cancer 6 years ago, he is now 16 years old, and he can’t watch a movie about cancer? Am I misunderstanding?

mrjadkins's avatar

As someone who works in education, I can only suggest that you follow the direction of the first responder and communicate with your child’s teacher first. Going to the school to “raise hell” isn’t the way to handle this type of issue. Remember, your actions on this are teaching your child as well. How would you teach your child to handle conflict?

In the workforce, how would you feel if someone complained about something you did by going to the president of the company without letting you know about the situation first?

Schools are by far not perfect. Teachers are greatly over-worked and over-expected to teach everything (including sex education, healthy eating, proper hygiene, netiquette, social behaviors, etc.) beyond the 3Rs these days.

Teachers are people too.

As a Flutherer and as an educator, please go speak to the teacher first about this issue. Find out what is being taught. Most teachers provide parents a syllabus of information at the start of school. Ask for this and make sure you are okay with what is being taught. Voice your concerns. Share. Communicate.

Raggedy_Ann's avatar

The amount of time that has passed should not matter nor should his age. He basically watched his great grandfather die. My mother died in March 2008, I’m 41. Are trying to tell me that I should be over it since it happened 8 months ago? I basically watched her die too. I don’t care how old you are, watching a loved one die stays with you for the rest of your life. My uncle tells the story (he is 79) about how his father (my grandfather) was holding his hand and died right there. This was in 1963 and you can tell it still bothers him to this day.

EmpressPixie's avatar

I would say talk to both the teacher and the principal. Since the teacher involved the office in the problem, the office needs to be involved in the solution.

Edited to add: Also, it is so important for the office to know that you are involved in your child’s education enough to come down to the school. Admittedly, I’m used to truly awful public education systems, but my life was so much easier because the school knew my mom was all about being involved.

jrpowell's avatar

I’m with niki on this one.

I was under the impression the kid was under ten. But 16? My father was killed when I was ten, my grandma died when I was 7. At sixteen I was had a really good friend die in a car accident and another committed suicide. How is your child going to deal if you die in a car accident tomorrow? Never ride in a car again?

Raggedy_Ann's avatar

Everyone handles the death of a loved one differently. It’s part of being human.

flameboi's avatar

Well, I’m with John, I still believe that schools are not supposed to give you a hard time with certain issues, but your son has to learn how to deal with death, it’s part of life

EmpressPixie's avatar

Honestly, as long as she approves of his actions, I don’t think the specifics are important. Where “she” is Rossi. I see this as more of a situation where a child had a behavioral reaction to an educational stimulus that the school found to be inappropriate, but Rossi has not. Because parents and schools need to agree on appropriate behavior or the system doesn’t work well, they need to discuss this matter and how something similar might be handled in the future.

Raggedy_Ann's avatar

Thank you Pixie—I couldn’t have said it better myself. If parent’s became more involved in their childs education I think the world (or at least a part of it) would be a much better place.

nikipedia's avatar

I’m not judging whether his reaction is “right” or “wrong”, but it does sound abnormal and raises some red flags for me. It sounds like the school district handled this situation in the worst possible way, and standing up for your son is a wonderful way to support him—but I also wonder if there might be something else going on here that might be worth exploring with your son.

bob's avatar

Rossi, based on your description, both the teacher and the office administration have made errors in judgment. Your son should not be punished, either with his grade or in any other way, for refusing to watch the movie.

Tell your son that you support his decision, and on Monday you should calmly explain the situation to the office and the teacher. If there are any consequences mandated by the school, ask that your son be exempted from that punishment. If the school or teacher wants to punish your son anyway, you might have to tell your son that sometimes punishments are unfair, but that you still support his decision. But don’t make him watch the movie.

Judi's avatar

What kind of movie about cancer? A health education movie or a Dramatic movie about someone with cancer? It really does make a difference in the answer. There is so much fear out there of the “C” word. As a mother, you have a responsibility to your son to help him deal with this fear and know that a lot of people with Cancer get cured. It is no longer a death sentence. If you over react here, you will not be doing your son any service in helping him deal with the realities of life AND death. Everyone dies. Part of parenting is helping your children deal with death in as healthy a fashion as you do teaching them to deal with life. Please take a deep breath and spend the weekend helping your son get a step closer to healing. Chances are he will some day watch you die. This is a teaching moment to help him now to navigate that bridge when he gets there. I am not belittling your families pain by any means, I am just saying it may be an opportunity to move towards healing. Next week, if you choose to talk to the school, maybe it can be from a point of trying to understand first what their goals were, then trying to explain your son’s sensitivity so you can work together as a team for your son’s sake.

Raggedy_Ann's avatar

Judi that is a wonderful answer. This is a wonderful opportunity, not only for Rossi and her son, but also for her son’s class. Perhaps Rossi and her son can talk to her son’s class about it and explain why he feels the way he does. I would bet that there are possibly other kids there that maybe feel the way he does. As I said earlier, death is handled differently by everyone. It’s what makes us unique and human.

rossi_bear's avatar

ya niki and john and others if you knew how close they were then you might understand. sorry you can not see that!!

rossi_bear's avatar

and thank you for the help in this!! i really appreciate it. i just got back from the superintendents office and they have dismissed him for class for this subject. they do have a heart. :0) that is good to see and they don’t blame him and us for doing what we did. they were totally understanding.

rossi_bear's avatar

he knows death is part of life. it is just hard for him at this time. i mean my grandmother died and he accepted that fine. i mean it hurt him but not like his g. grandfather.

mrjadkins's avatar

This entire discussion and “resolution” makes me really sad.

The next question I pose from your scenario is “what lesson(s) does this experience bring not only to your son but to the teacher, the superintendent, and to the others in this discussion following along?” If you are reading this scenario, what do you think of the way this was handled?

It sickens me. It really does.

rossi_bear's avatar

it sickens me too to see that there are heartless people that can’t understand what is happing to him! we took care of my grandfather til his death that is why it is so hard for him.

syz's avatar

Did you say it was six years ago? If he’s having that much trouble dealing with it this far out, you need to get him counseling. Cancer is so pervasive, there’s no way he can avoid being exposed in some form or another. Wouldn’t you rather get him some professional help so he can develop strategies to deal with his pain? If he can’t handle it six years out, I think it’s unlikely he’ll learn to deal with it on his own. Stop blaming the school and look for a way to help him cope.

And I’m sorry if this seems out of line, but he’s sixteen. Are you sure he’s not emotionally manipulating his mom?

rossi_bear's avatar

i think you need a reality check@syz!!!!

syz's avatar

Really? How is seeking help to deal with a problem questionable? Is counseling a dirty word for you? If he was injured, would you take him to a doctor? Why is emotional pain somehow less important than physical pain?

cdwccrn's avatar

I think I agree with two comments above.
The teacher and office needs to be talked to.
Six years is along time and 16 is pretty old. If he is still suffering that much that a film in school hits close to home and needs to be avoided, he may need talk therapy.

SuperMouse's avatar

My mother died of cancer in 1977. I attempted to watch Terms of Endearment in approximately 1996 and could not get through it. I have never tried, and will never try to watch it again. That simple. It is just to traumatic for me. I don’t think your son should have been forced to watch the movie and I don’t think he should have gotten in to trouble for not wanting to watch it.

Personally I think you should talk to whoever marked him as truant. Whether this young man needs talk therapy (he might, but maybe it brought us some old stuff, and let’s face it that happens to the best of us) is immaterial to this question – if the movie overwhelmed him he should have been given a pass.

rossi_bear's avatar

he did talk to a conciler and he was fine til today. the film brought up bad memories. i am glad that some of you do undersatnd what my son has gone through. he is doing better now. it was the suprising shock that hit him when he was watching the film. the guy on the file looked like his g.grandfather. now do you understand what has gone through him mind? i was not trying to be rude by no means, i just think that some( definatally not all) don’t see the whole picture and you are wrong in passing judgement like that. and can you just picture his face when he saw that guy on the film?? he was excused from class. the school does have a heart. they understood. thank you all for your help. bless you all.

EmpressPixie's avatar

MrJadkins, you might be a good teacher who would never make a mistake in this situation or handle it poorly, but let me assure you there are both bad teachers and bad principals. While as a teacher, you don’t like your decisions to be second guessed, the only message this sends to the school as a whole is that Rossi supports her kid and his decision not to watch this movie. Rossi trusts her kid to have input in his education, the school and teacher did not.

There is a lot I am holding back from saying here, but simply put: I’ve been in a very similar situation, and sometimes having your mom go in guns blazing is the best and only way to handle the situation.

Judi's avatar

@empress, I agree with you to a point, but going over the teachers and administrators head an straight to the superintendent’s office is no way to ensure happily cooperative teachers for the rest of your child’s high school years. It could have been handled a bit differently. She could have talked to the teacher and the principal first and then gone to the superintendent if she didn’t get the results she was looking for.

rossi_bear's avatar

@judi i did try and go to the teacher but it was a sub. and i tried to go to the principal and both vice principal and her was out til after vacation. so my only other option was to go the the super. i needed this cleared up for my son as soon as possiable. and to me that was yesterday. i wasn’t going to wait til after vacation. my son deserves better then that. have you ever been in his situation?? i pray that you haven’t. not at his age that this happened to his g. grandfather.

rossi_bear's avatar

@empress thank you for understanding what my son has gone through here. i wish there was more good people in the world like you, Lord know that we could use them. bless you!:)

syz's avatar

Wow, talk about needing a reality check.

rossi_bear's avatar

@syz still think that some need one but you don’t have to be so cruel!!!! i hope you don’t have kids.

skibum's avatar

IF it was a sub then that is not even less of a reason to get the superintendent involved, most of the time subs don’t even know the subject matter for the teacher they are filling in for, nor do they know all the procedures for each individual school. You are asking the people on here to see where you and your son are coming from but did you stop to think where the Sub was coming from. Chances are the sub had no idea what to do in a situation where a student refuses or doesn’t feel comfortable with the lesson plan that the teacher left for them to give to the class.
And as for your son still having trouble with mourning the death I would look into therapy again. I lost my father to leukemia when I was 13 I am now 17, I understand how hard to get over a death, my dads death was really hard on me, I understand how hard it is to talk about things but your son is not going to be able to avoid talking about cancer for the rest of his life.

rossi_bear's avatar

@skibum…. did you read that the person in the film looked just like his g. grandfather??? does that even come to anyones mind? it don’t matter it is done and over with i handled it the way i thought was best for my son! sorry to have asked!

Judi's avatar

@Rossi,
Believe me, I do know what it’s like to be a mama bear with their claws out fighting to defend their cub. I have three kids who were wounded by their fathers suicide when they were little. Dealing with the teasing and kids telling them their dad was burning in hell, and insensitive teachers has been my life battle. I have learned that sometimes you need to be sly like a fox and not a raging mama bear, and sometimes you need to catch your flies with honey. The teacher was a sub. That’s good news. What you wanted to resolve was your child’s record for not being in class right? Why couldn’t that have been done after the holiday? Why the urgency?
My daughter is a High School teacher and I can tell you that the biggest way we are running good teachers out of schools in addition to low pay is helicopter parenting, especially when administration makes decisions without even consulting the teachers. We have gotten bits and pieces of the story from you and I am sure the teacher has a whole side of the story we know nothing about. If what you really want is a top notch, caring education for your son, you will try to first work with the educators instead of against them and save the big guns for the last resort. As it is now, next time your son has a problem the administrators are going to see you coming and say, “Good grief, here she comes again, isn’t it YOUR turn to deal with her?”

EmpressPixie's avatar

@Judi: I was advocating going to the teacher and principal at the same time, not the superintendent. Though now that we are finding out it was a sub, well, I have some ridiculous ideas about subs. In part because I know that subs can be insane—sometimes they do what the teacher left, sometimes they bring their own completely stupid, class inappropriate activities and even your teacher will back you up if you rebel. That was, of course, a very special case, but subs are a different thing all together from a regular teacher. And a lot more difficult to deal with in some ways.

rossi_bear's avatar

@judi i understand what you are saying. but i was here when he came home and yes it had to be deal with that minute, my son and i have a good trust thing and he trusted me to handle it that day so as he requested i did. that is my first thought is to help him with what ever he needs. and yes i know she was a sub but there was no need of her grabbing a hold of him like she did.

skibum's avatar

no i didnt see that, but that just makes me think that your son needs someone to talk to more than it did before, Your son needs to be able to look at ppl who resemble his grandfather and not breakdown, My uncle (dads brother) looks EXACTLY like my dad it took me a long time before i could look at him and not get teary eyed but after awhile i was able to look at him and think of the good times i had with my dad, Your son needs to be able think of his grandfather and not break down.

im not trying to be rude, i just know wat its like to loose someone u are very close to die, but once i was able to talk about my father or look at pictures of him without breaking down remembering my dad was a lot easier.

but im confused in your description you said he refused to watch the film, yet he was upset because the guy in the film looked like his grandfater, how could he know wat the guy in the film looked like if he wanst watching the movie, something else that is confusing me is also in ur descrption you were going to go to the school on monday, but then your excuse for going to the superintendent was no one else was avalible that instant.

mrjadkins's avatar

This story gets more detailed as you keep posting rossi. “There was no need of her grabbing a hold of him like she did.” When did this part of the story develop???

This entire discussion is its own reality show and I am glued!

rossi_bear's avatar

@skiblum the movie started and the first few minutes was on til it came to the point that he saw that guy. then he told the teacher that he couldn’t watch it. and the teachers and kids are all on vacation on monday so it couldn’t wait. @ mrjadkins .. i didn’t say it because i didn’t think that it was needed to say til now. because that is personal and didn’t think it was nessassary til you all you was not getting the urgancy of this all. that is why i didn’t say it sooner. mind you my son was right here reading all this and he said “to just tell them so they understand” so that is when i did.

DaQuestionz's avatar

Sounds to me the issue with the school was their lack of sensitivity to recognize that he had legitimate emotional concerns that would make it difficult to watch the movie especially in a setting with peers where he may not be inclined to express those particular emotions. Each day we entrust our children to be cared for by teachers & administrators in our schools and in addition to teaching math, science, reading, etc they should be observant & aware and listen when children express as did your son that he was not comfortable viewing the movie. Please advocate for your son & as a result all children by meeting with the teacher & principal to address the issue.

For those who think this would have been a good learning opportunity for him understand that he probably knows more about the disease than many adults. I was young when my grandmother passed after having battled cancer for more than 2 years and as a result my knowledge of the disease and how it manifests was greater than many adults that I encountered at the time.

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