You know that feeling you get as a parent when you suspect for a millisecond that your child has been wronged? That “Mama (or Papa) Bear” reflex that rears up in us and makes us feel like we could and would do ANYTHING to protect our kids?
Yeah. That. It’s a frightening and powerful rush, isn’t it? I feel it so often, I’m starting to think I might be a Mama Bear junkie. Granted, I’m a bit of an over-reactor in general . . .
“Kelsey said WHAT to you? Hand Mama the phone please.”
In fact, my husband, aka The Gatekeeper, frequently has to remind me to let the kids solve most of their own social dilemmas. I can’t help it. My hackles just stand on end when I start to sense my babies are hurting.
But sometimes our children can’t solve their own problems, particularly when they’re up against a big institution like a school. When that happens, it is our job to protect them, and pity the fool who gets in our way (said in my best Mr. T impersonation. You’re welcome.)
Once, when Mini-Me was in Kindergarten, she was in a classroom setting that was not a good fit for her particular needs and learning style. More often than not, she came home from school looking like this:
[photo removed at the request of Mini-Me]
You know Mini-Me. She takes after her Mama. (Bless her heart.) Well, she had a couple of behavioral incidents early in the year, and the next thing we knew, she was being treated like she was a “problem child.”
It was heartbreaking. We could actually see her self-esteem plummet during that time. I don’t really talk much about it, but back then I was *this close* to pulling Mini-Me out of public Kindergarten and homeschooling her after a series of very upsetting interactions we had with the teachers and administrators of her school. (And I think we can all agree that I would be a miserable failure as a homeschooling mother given my inability to stick to a routine or come up with appropriate crafts.)
That was around the time I quit blogging. I just couldn’t find a way to balance my burgeoning career (then hobby) and give Mini-Me the time and attention she needed at home.
That’s not the only reason I gave up blogging, but it was a major factor. Sometimes I wonder how much further along I could be in my career right now if I had stayed with blogging and not taken that year off.
But like I said, I was in that Mama Bear mode and I would have done anything to protect my girl. I have no regrets. That was in the winter and spring of 2009. We did everything in our power to support our daughter and make sure she got the education she deserved.
Our efforts paid off in the end. It was no surprise to us, but it turned out she was not a “problem child” at all, but rather a gifted and kinesthetic learner who was just bored silly and needed to be with a teacher who would see her as an asset instead of a liability.
This is probably why I got all teary-eyed when I watched the preview for the upcoming film Won’t Back Down, by Fox Pictures, scheduled for release September 28th. In it, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis play two determined mothers who will stop at nothing to transform their children’s failing inner city school. Facing a powerful and entrenched bureaucracy, they risk everything to make a difference in the education and future of their children.
Honest to Pete, gives me goosebumps just thinking of it. I’ve been a big fan of Maggie Gyllenhaal for a long time. Ever see Secretary or Sherrybaby? Jayzus. This woman can act, y’all. I can’t wait to see the hurtin’ she puts on this role as a crusading mother.
Now add Viola Davis, Rosie Perez, and Holly Hunter? (All of whom are either Oscar nominees or winners.) Holy Hell. This is gonna be good.
Okay, enough jibber jabber. Visit the Won’t Back Down Facebook page and “like” it for more updates on the film. You can even organize a girls night out and purchase group tickets there while you’re at it.
Also, Fox and BlogHer are teaming up to give you the chance to win one of two $40 Fandango gift cards. All you need to do is answer these questions in the comments below: How can you be an agent for change in your community? What gives you courage?