Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Recording Amanda

Linda's a flautist and has played continually since she was a child. A few years ago while she was still working for community education in an administration position, she decided it'd be fun to teach young kids to play beginning recorder. She took her recorder pretty seriously, in fact belonging to a recorder society wherein the members played chamber music and traded verbal snobbishness with great skill. But here we're just talking about that plastic thing that 5th graders used to get tortured with in every public school from New York to LA.

For two years she taught generally 6 students per term, suburban parents attempting to subsidize what experience the schools tossed away to have more money for whatever the hell it is they spend it on these days. And for the most part, it was a great way to make a few bucks, as she was caught up in the magic of seeing children enrich their lives with her help.

And then came "Amanda", a precocious child of 10 years whose mother was particularly attentive and agreeable when leaving her baby to learn music.

During her second half hour lesson, Amanda stopped playing, set down the instrument and began to scream. Two screams, then three, then a fourth; bursts that sounded much like an air horn wielded by a sailboat captain trying to wake an oncoming boater.

Linda's just an ordinary girl; raised on the far outskirts of the city, a cheerleader/honor student who, along with her pals would ask for extra homework when she was in school because she thought it was fun. She's a woman that still believes in the morals of the 50's that are pretty much the doormat of the new generation, and still watches a few Nick at Night reruns of some of the old shows that contained those silly values. Yea yea, she's a little naive and I've tried to train her to no avail. But I can't fault her for wanting what was in deference to what is; we all do it about something, she just does it about nearly everything lol.

As the echo of the screams died away and Linda stood in terror, not for a moment understanding what was wrong, Amanda turned to face her, folded her hands and said "I can get you in a lot of trouble you know. You'd better be nice to me."

At the end of that term we took stock of the possibilities. We detailed the charges that could be created by a vengeful child who might be upset about too much homework, too little playtime, playing songs that didn't meet their approval for instance. We began with sexual abuse, and ran the gauntlet through corporal punishment. As children have been granted "rights" of a sort, anyone accused of any of these needs to prove a negative in order to avoid legal fees through jury awards to jail time.

What were the odds something might happen? 1 in a million. We don't play the lottery, particularly with our lives; 1 in a million is 1 more chance than she was willing to risk.

Times have changed, and not for the better. Linda was a good teacher. Never again without another unrelated adult in the room at all times.

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