I spent today listening for the phone, jumping every single time it rang because I was that sure it would be Jeremy’s school. It wasn’t like yesterday’s meeting left me with any positive feelings.
At 2:30pm I breathed a sigh of relief. There hadn’t been a call and we had less than a half hour until the end of school, it seemed like Jeremy would make it through the whole day. I was sent home minutes later and double checked my cellphone when I got on the bus. My missed call list was empty. Phew!
I waited until Jeremy would be home before I called because zir bus is about as loud as a jet plane during takeoff… while you’re outside the plane.
“I’m on the second bus home,” I said cheerfully once zie answered. “So, how was your day?”
“It was horrible,” came the immediate reply. “Didn’t the school call? I’ve been home for hours.”
The school definitely hadn’t called. I sat, wedged into the window seat, listening to Jeremy’s rambling and disjointed story. Zie seemed quite positive they hadn’t called me because the EA was probably too embarrassed about how badly she’d behaved but the story zie told painted a different slant entirely. There was something about refusing to do “ballet stretches” in gym and arguing about having a cellphone in zir pocket. Then being in the office and wanting zir netbook and an EA grabbing zir arm and accidentally hitting her with the door. Then she left and Jeremy went home. I had no idea who got hit by a door or what order any of that was in. What I did know was Jeremy had pretty much instigated the whole thing by refusing to do simple stretches in gym class and then demanding the netbook while in the office. The EA shouldn’t have grabbed Jeremy’s arm but that arm wouldn’t have been there if zie’d been in gym playing tennis with everyone else.
“Maybe next time you could simply do the stretches,” I pointed out.
“I guess,” Jeremy replied.
I went to my room almost as soon as I walked in our front door. I wanted a chance to get my thoughts together, to sort out when it was acceptable to ignore the teachers (which would be pretty much never) and when Jeremy needed to buck up and listen (which would be a whole lot more than now). An hour later I didn’t have anything hammered out. I figured I’d get the fries chopped and soaking in cold water then brainstorm ideas with Jeremy.
I’d just cut the last fry when the phone rang. It was Jeremy’s VP. Considering the lateness, I figured it would be the school’s automated attendant calling to let me know zie’d missed half of school today. Having a real live person on the line was a shock.
The VP told me that Jeremy had refused to do stretching exercises and got sent to the office; this part I’d figured out. Then she said “he’d” insisted on getting and using “his” netbook. She informed Jeremy that zie either had to go back to gym or just wait in the office for twenty minutes until the next period started, the netbook wasn’t an option. She noticed Jeremy was standing but figured if “he” wanted to stand that was “his” choice. That was when she left to go ask the head of special education for ideas. Apparently Jeremy pretty much followed her out the door. Zie wanted to go home and needed to bring the netbook home with zir.
Jeremy’s classroom door was locked because the teacher was working on a lesson plan. That’s something they both agree on. According to the VP, Jeremy started trying to open the door. A teacher noticed “him” there and went to the door. At this point the VP stressed once again that the door was locked, the implication being that Jeremy was being so aggressive with the door that zie managed to open it despite the lock. She said an EA came behind Jeremy and tapped “him” gently on the wrist, just to let “him” know there was a teacher behind the door… but “he” didn’t listen. “He” barged right in, knocking the teacher against the wall and hurting her wrist. She ran off, terrified by “his” aggressive behaviour. But she was fine now.
During this whole conversation she never referred to Jeremy once as “they”. She’d been the first VP I mentioned yesterday, the one who’d sat beside me at the meeting. The one who’d informed me that zie and zir were not acceptable according to board policy but they’d have no problem using the pronoun they for “him”.
Shortly after I walked in our front door, Jeremy referred to zir female teacher as “he”. Zie said if she was going to misgender zir all day long that she could be called by the wrong gender and see what it was like. Obviously this was something that had bothered Jeremy today. As the VP continued talking, I couldn’t help wondering how much of the frustration Jeremy showed that day was brought about by the simple fact they’d refused to listen to zir and had ignored something very important zie’d struggled to bring up for months.
“… talked to the principal and he decided Jeremy cannot come back to school until we’ve set up a meeting and a new safety plan and possibly have a better placement for ‘him’,” the VP continued. “It’s obvious ‘he’ doesn’t feel comfortable in ‘his’ current setting. ‘He’s’ not going to listen to ‘his’ teachers at all; ‘he’ doesn’t seem to have any respect for them. ‘He’ll’ need to stay home until something has been sorted out and we possibly have some options in place to choose from.”
Until something’s been sorted out. In other words, they had no idea when zie’ll be back. I did, however, agree that zie did not feel comfortable there or that the teachers would listen to or respect zir. And sadly, my first emotion when she mentioned the suspension was relief. There was going to be no worries tomorrow about what was happening at school with Jeremy. The cellphone was never mentioned by the VP. I didn’t bother to bring it up.
I got off the phone then called Jeremy into my room, demanding to know what happened. Zie gave me almost the same story, except for adding that zie’d offered to use the netbook to do school work. Which was still a meh on my part but at least zie hadn’t been demanding the right to play Rollercoaster Tycoon. Then came the whole door incident.
“I just wanted to go home,” zie announced, sounding near tears. “I was told the class would be locked but figured I’d try just in case. It was and I’d stepped away from the door when the librarian came over to leave. My teacher yelled for her to close the door but it was open a bit so I figured I’d go inside and grab my stuff. That was when the EA came up behind me and grabbed my wrist. She grabbed it really hard and it hurt. I pulled hard to get away from her and the door opened even wider, hitting the librarian. I was going to say sorry to the librarian but she left right away; my teacher said she was going to file a report. I grabbed my netbook and left. I didn’t even get my backpack.”
“Why didn’t you do the stretches?” I asked. This was my sticking point. If zie’d just done the stretches then nothing would have happened.
Jeremy said they were uncomfortable so I asked zir to show me, which zie finally did. It looked like a perfectly normal stretch to me.
“You must have seen what was wrong with it,” zie insisted. I looked at zir blankly and finally admitted I’d seen nothing.
“Mom. It showed my genitals!” Jeremy was blushing and sounded horribly embarrassed. Then zie burst into tears. “Why do I always get in trouble for everything? It doesn’t matter what it’s for. Asking for more school work… wanting to go home… it’s always me getting in trouble. The EA grabbed my arm and nothing’s happening to her.”
Talk about a collision of errors. Jeremy behaved badly by anyone’s standards but I can’t help but wonder what would have been different if zie’d felt supported and welcome in the school.