Yesterday was Z's first day of classroom Driver's Ed. We were going to homeschool this class, but you wouldn't believe the hoops the state wanted us to jump through. The red tape is incredible! So, we bit the bullet, paid our $75, and enrolled Z in Driver's Ed. The class runs for 2 weeks, from 4-7 p.m.
The sheet we were given at registration stated that Z MUST attend all 30 hrs of class in order to take his written permit test. The only excused absences are for severe illness, or earth-shattering family emergencies, and these absences must be made up. No problem.
I dropped Z off at 3:45 yesterday afternoon, slightly nervous. Z's bullies still attend this school. How would Z handle a confrontation? I figured the odds were in Z's favor as his former classmates took Driver's Ed last year. Z won't be 16 until later this summer, so we didn't see the point in him taking Driver's Ed until this year.
Z went to the classroom and was told, by the Driver's Ed instructor, that the class had been canceled for that day. Class would start on Tuesday. HUH? The kids can't miss a class, but the instructor can cancel class on a whim? Whatever! Fortunately, Z had our cell phone with him and called me to come get him. He then went outside to wait for me.
While waiting, Z was approached by one of his bullies, a "mean girl" named Mandy, and 2 of her toadies. This girl had made Z's grade-school years miserable by deliberately humiliating him at every turn. Z decided to let bygones be bygones and had a friendly conversation with Mandy. She wanted to know where he'd been for the last 3 yrs. Z told her that he was homeschooled. Mandy asked if he was coming back to school, to which Z replied: "I'd kill myself before I'd come back to THIS school!" Mandy exchanged a few more pleasantries with Z, then went back into the school.
A few minutes later, the principal came out and started questioning Z about who he was and why he was there. The principal then told Z that there had been a "report" of a kid in a black trenchcoat, who was threatening to kill people. Mandy strikes again! Z repeated the conversation he had with Mandy to the principal. Then Z proceeded to politely tell him what he thought of our school system: "As a special needs student with Tourette's Syndrome, ADD, and OCD, your system made it impossible for me to get a decent education."
The principal's jaw dropped and he was speechless, but not for long. The cavalry had arrived! Two police cruisers zoomed in and surrounded Z on the sidewalk. An officer got out, questioned Z, smiled, and asked if he could search Z for weapons. No problem! As the officer was patting him down, Z suddenly remembered that he had his Swiss Army Knife in his pocket. Oh shit! Like any normal country boy, Z always carries a jackknife in his pocket. He forgot that this is a forbidden object in school and he SHOULD have left the knife at home. Fortunately the officer felt the knife in Z's pocket and chose not to mention it. WHEW!
When I arrived a few minutes later, all I saw was Z talking to one of his friends on the sidewalk. Z hopped in the truck, started giggling, then told me what had happened. When he got home, the adrenaline that had kept Z going wore off and he got a bit shaky. I told him that I was soooo PROUD of the way he had handled the situation. A year ago, this would have totally unnerved Z and brought him to tears. Now, here he was, handling himself like a polite, responsible young man, with all the confidence in the world. If we have accomplished nothing else in homeschooling, we have managed to return Z's confidence and self-esteem to him. He proved to himself that he knows how to use these tools in a difficult situation.
Z was a bit nervous about returning to school this afternoon. I thought of offering to walk him to class, but I knew he'd refuse the offer. When I dropped him off, Z took a deep breath, swallowed his fear, and proudly walked through the doors of the high school with his head held high. As the doors closed behind him, I let out the breath I'd been holding, and drove home with tears of love and pride shining in my eyes.