Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Who Knows What's Best for a Child

I have been embroiled in a battle over a child's schooling.  And it is not even my own kid.

Not quite sure how I got into this position, but I can confidently say, the child had nothing to do with it.  I think it started when Hubby said to me, as I was reading my Thermostat post to him,  "you have too much time on your hands."

My neighbor, who has no teenagers,  is hosting a foreign exchange student.  I call him the Italian Rastafarian.  Cute as a button.  Since he goes to Grace's, our DD's school, we have given him some rides and generally provided some help where we could.   Another neighbor, who is on the school's Music Board with me, also took an exchange student, the Dutchman.   It turns out that parents of kids in the music program are pretty big in the exchange student world and I know four of the families with kids.  Given how few families of any kids from DD's school I knew a year ago, this is quite the coincidence.

So when my neighbor called with the news that she took in a 2nd exchange student, a boy,  on an emergency basis and that he needed a new home and would I make a few calls to my friends who also have boys and see if there might be any interest, I said sure.   She also added, he goes to a not so great school and it would be wonderful to get him transferred into our neighborhood school.

So I began.  First I learned his exchange agency had placed him originally in a home that turned out to have "problems".  Not the kid's fault.    Should the agency have rooted this out before even making the placement?    I think so.    Then I learned that I didn't know enough families with boys.   I got a few responses.  One even passed the note on to someone else with experience with taking an exchange student, but my vast network did not materialize anyone.

Now I was invested.  After consulting with Hubby and DD, I offered my home, with the idea that I would be able to switch him to the neighborhood school.   That was my condition.  Hubby says I sounded like I was asking for a puppy.    "Can I have him pleeeeeze?" The agency made a quick call to the school district, asking if a transfer was possible, and was told yes.

So the Exchange Student with No Home, was brought into the loop, told about my wonderful family but also told he would have be switching schools.  He smiled.  He'd think about it.   Could he meet us?  What is the school like?  He would miss playing soccer for his team and leaving his woodworking class.   He's not sure.   So we decided that he would meet us and I would take him to see the school.  I begin making calls to the school's Soccer Coach and Athletic Director.

Oooops.  Turns out, the Exchange powers that be had not been consulted by the mere lowly staff member making the calls locally.  Sorry, Charlie.  You cannot move the child to a new school.  Has to stay there.  I make a few investigative calls and learn it is best not to move Exchange Student with No Home until the end of the quarter anyway.    How about we agree to that?  He can finish up Soccer and Woodworking, get his credits and then make a move?   Nope.

I stood firm.  If you want my home, you've got to give us the option to move him.  I'm willing to let the Exchange Student with No Home, a voice in the final decision, but at least give us the option.   Nope.

So now what do we do?  Tell the ESwNH, "Oops, never mind.  We don't want you anymore."  I woke up early this morning, and thought, I can't do that.   So I was apparently standing firmly on jello.  I wrote a note this morning saying, I give.   Is it right for the kid?  I don't know, but at least now he only has to decide do I want to live with you or not.  I'll try not to take it too personally if he doesn't.

I hope he's been house trained.


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