Weird stuff happens at school.

Yesterday my daughter came home very upset. It turns out that her social studies teacher had given them a class assignment whereby the students each wrote on a piece of paper the name of someone they really liked and one that they really hated. To add injury to inanity, he then collected the papers and marked the results on the board for all to see. The educational purpose of this fascinating exercise remains a mystery.

Lest anyone think that this is somehow representative of the way teachers behave here, my daughter’s homeroom teacher was appalled by this, and said he would speak to the social studies teacher — who is also the counselor! — about the appropriateness of such an assignment.

One student did indeed hate my daughter, and she was devastated by this. Her bosom buddy CL scored nine votes in the ‘hate’ category.

Why is CL hated? Well, it’s par for the course here. CL is a burbling, energetic child with a charming, positive attitude. It’s hard to see how anyone could dislike, let alone hate, CL. It’s only after you interact with her for a while that you realize she’s — to use a quaint old word — slow – “short one gene” as her mother puts it.. In schools on The Beautiful Isle, it’s normal for other kids to ostracize such students, and torment them mercilessly. As is so often the case here, CL gets no therapy of any kind for her problems.

This hate is carried over to any of CL’s associates, and inevitably encompasses my daughter. Once Sheridan was the most popular girl in her class, and everyone played with her, came over our house for tea and cookies, and so on. Not anymore. Last year a new girl arrived who elbowed out Sheridan. HT, then Sheridan’s best friend, with an innate ability to sense social carrion, ditched my daughter faster than you can say “former best friend” and is now sucking up to Popular Girl. Last semester HT bought new placemats for all the students except — pointedly — my daughter Sheridan and her friend CL. Their teacher registered no disapproval of this act. Last semester my wife made sugar cookies for the class, which she does from time to time (many mothers do volunteer stuff). Popular girl, however, is backed by the full resources of her wealthy mother. Swinging into action, Popular Girl’s mom went out and bought a case of expensive imported Japanese fruit, which she distributed to everyone. Yes, fourth grade is political hell.