Earlier this week, I screwed my courage to the sticking place and went down to the school district to enroll #3 in the public school. I had such anxiety over the perception that these government employees would have about our parenting decisions, specifically our choice to homeschool and our objections to certain vaccines.
My fears were confirmed when the chipper woman on the other side of the enrollment counter asked, "Did you bring his transcript from his other school and his shot record?" I gulped and handed over the documentation I had.
"Honey, I need his whole shot record." She told me. "You're missing some on this form."
I smiled my best I'm-really-not-a-lunatic smile and said, "No, that's it. We don't do some of them."
She rolled her eyes, suddenly exasperated, and handed me a conscientious objector form. It's the nature of bureaucracy, if you're going to dare to be different, you have to be prepared to explain yourself. I thanked her and took the form, along with the stack of enrollment paperwork, and went across the room and sat down.
"I love when the homeschoolers come in here." She said in a mock whisper to her co-worker. "We get to see the look on their faces as they discover that teaching kids is hard and you have to be smarter than they thought."
I briefly considered explaining to her the physics of sound waves and how they carry across an empty space before rejecting it as argumentative and utterly futile. "I hate public schools. I hate public schools. I hate..." repeated in my brain. I calmed myself down and re-focused on the task at hand, the conscientious objector form.
With jokes about my lack of intelligence still carrying across the open space, I set about answering the question of why my child hadn't gotten the chicken pox vaccine. It didn't help that I had a space one line long. How do I reduce my faith, politics and health philosophies into one line? I finally settled on "The varicella vaccine is cultured in fetal tissue. As Catholics, we can not materially cooperate in any way with the intentional destruction of human life."
I handed the forms to the smirking women behind the desk and walked next door to the Special Education office. The woman behind that desk was expecting me and was much kinder and more empathetic to my fragile emotional state. I told her of the insulting behavior of the enrollment office, and she was truly embarrassed by what she heard. She apologized repeatedly for them and commended my efforts at educating a special needs child up to this point.
It was then that the loud-mouth from next door came in waving the objector form. "You need to re-write this," she demanded, "I don't understand what you've written here."
I scanned the document and then wrote on the margin, "The chicken pox vaccine is grown in the tissue of aborted babies. I can't play a part in the murder of innocent children." and handed it back.
"I hope that's better." I told her and then turned back to the special ed woman who was laughing.
"I see." She said, as the other woman left the room. "You're not smart enough to teach your children, but she's not smart enough to understand a simple sentence which you wrote. And she called you dumb? I think there's an irony there."
I smiled back at her. With this woman running things, at least I have some hope for the Special Ed department.