On Magnets, Motherhood and Mayhem

On Magnets, Motherhood and Mayhem

‘The Marion Mom’

[ Editor’s Note: This column originally appeared in the April 2018 edition of the Marion Ledger. With the upcoming Magnet Application Day on the horizon, I thought it might be fun to revisit the topic] So I hear y’all stood in line for hours to apply for your choice of magnet school last week.

The good news is, a thousand kids got their first choice of magnet school.

The better news is, y’all just stood in line for hours to earn it.

My husband and I lived in Chattanooga before our kids were in school. They have a magnet school that performed in the top 5 percent in the nation.

Well, you can imagine, with limited availability and high demand, they created a taxing lottery system to ameliorate the success of their students.

This is what I was told by a colleague: First, you applied for the opening.

Second, the school randomly drew names from the applications. They might have 35 openings for 150 applicants.

Third, if you were selected, someone had to show up every morning to answer roll call on behalf of your kid. For two weeks.

Families literally camped out, in tents, in the front yard of the school, for two weeks, to insure the free educational success of their children.

I never actually asked the administration why they chose such a demanding and illogical approach to enrollment, but my husband pointed out to me that the system proved parental involvement and determination, which research shows as a major factor in the educational success of any student.

So you stood in line for a few hours to turn in a piece of paper. You’re a good parent.

Take a moment now to thank God and Dr. Fenter that you’re not in Chattanooga.

We have always homeschooled. When my eldest started kindergarten, my children’s pastor in innercity Chattanooga begged me not to put her in our district school, because he had experience with both drugs and guns in that school.

Home-schooling worked for us, so we have continued. I really love the magnet school models that I have seen elsewhere, and I have confidence that the change will vastly improve the Marion school experience.

I asked my fifth-grade neighbor which school she wanted, and she said, “The one with all the plays. But my brother’s going to the Spanish one.”

It’s really called the Herbert Carter Global Community Magnet School, but I can see why she would find her own abbreviation for it.

As a mother of six, I certainly wouldn’t choose two different drop-off locations. However, the bus eliminates that inconvenience for my neighbors.

I’m sure the bus routes will accommodate everyone in the district, but let’s just say I’m thrilled I’m not in charge of those logistics. I can’t even keep up with my own kids, much less a thousand kids in three different locations!

(Four years ago, our music minister called at 12:30 p.m. on a Sunday to let us know she would gladly bring home the 8-year-old we left wandering the halls of the church… Well, I thought my husband had him, and he thought I had him, so that really just makes our kid like Jesus. Two years ago, I nearly left a child in the front yard as we were taking off for Dallas! An alert sibling saved us then, and we have since instituted rollcall.) Passing the bus yard this morning, I noticed a sign that said they’re hiring bus drivers for $20/hour.

That’s basically what I do. I drive my kids to and from extra-curricular activities. All. Day. Long.

And I haven’t seen a dime Which apparently seems perfectly normal to my kiddos.

I recently took a weekend at the beach with my two teenage daughters.

On the return trip, I was bemoaning the “Godzilla Monday” phenomenon, where returning to school or work the day after vacation makes a regular Monday look just peachy.

My daughter said, “None of us have work.”

I said, “Excuse me?”

She said, “You don’t have a job!”

My pitch and volume rose as I said, “I beg your pardon, I most certainly do! Groceries, clothing, shelter, driving you all over tarnation, maintaining the house and the cars…” She succumbed to silence for a moment before she retorted, “What I meant was, you don’t get paid for a job.” Stinging from the barb, I rolled my eyes. “Don’t I know it.”

Maybe I should start charging my kids $20/hour for my bus services.

Or the equivalent in chores. My eldest will be able to drive soon, and believe me, I’ll be putting her to work, contingent upon the merit of her skills.

A month ago, while dropping off my daughter for volleyball practice at the MJHS arena, a teen driver backed into my car at a very low speed.

I saw no damage, and, therefore, declined to swap contact information.

May I just present a PSA here? DON’T DO THAT!

The next day, the headlight went out. I paid to have it replaced, only to be met with the terrible news that the headlight assembly had been cracked in the seemingly minor incident, resulting in a $1300 repair.

Thirteen. Hundred. Dollars. Cadillac thinks a lot of themselves, don’t they?

I left without the repair, berated for not exchanging insurance information and embarrassed to admit to my husband my naive mistake made in a moment of compassion.

Needless to say, that repair has yet to be made, and I’m open to suggestions on how not to lose an entire paycheck for my dumb mistake. As long as my daughter avoids collisions of any magnitude, I welcome her help with groceries, dropoffs, pick-ups, doctor’s appointments, and random other luxuries.

Guess what? I have zero plans to pay her.

I’m the mom. I get to do that.

One of these days, I may be the one standing in line for her kids to attend the Herbert Carter Global Community Magnet School.

That’s all the payment she needs.

Dorothy Wilson lives in Marion with her husband Chris as they enjoy all the adventures their seven children provide. Her column appears monthly in the Marion Ledger.

“The Marion Mom” By Dorothy Wilson

By Dorothy Wilson