This piece was published in Hip Mama in August of 2017.
DEAR SCHOOL SYSTEM,
My son is three and a half. He is entering a public pre-K school in September. Please don’t fuck it up.
By that I mean, please don’t destroy his natural love of learning — about the hawk in the sky we saw this morning on our walk to the bus, about the snow, about where he was before he was born. Please don’t destroy his love of books and narrative and rhythmic language by making him read shitty things because someone told you kids should read it, someone who hasn’t actually worked with kids in decades but decides policy from their office.
My son would like to go to “soccer school” and I’ve tried to prepare him for the reality that most likely, he can do soccer or baseball or whatever other sport he wants after school but he’ll have to learn reading and writing and things like that as well. Please don’t make him sit still for six hours a day, that’s not natural even for me, much less a four year old.
My son is a black boy. But that doesn’t mean he’s going to go on to play basketball, or that if he expresses a feeling he’s dangerous or explosive.
Please check your implicit racial biases at the door and don’t project them – good or bad – onto my son.
My son also has two white Jewish moms, so please don’t assume everyone in your classrooms is Christian, or has a mommy and a daddy. Most kids these days don’t, and contrary to what the right wing would have you believe, that’s not a defect or a failing.
Dear school system, I am scared to enroll my son. I am excited and happy for him, because he’s growing up and becoming an interesting and interested young boy, but I am scared. Scared that the bright, happy, empathetic boy he is will be squashed out of him by your standardized testing and your rules. Please help me keep this from happening