Good morning, fellow mommy bloggers!
My sincerest apologies for the late posting this week. It’s been a bit crazy in our household! As members of the Messy Mom Club, I know that you can more than understand. Between puberty-related meltdowns, homework stress, and little sleep, raising a thirteen-year-old girl is nothing short of climbing darn Everest!
We’ve been pondering how to reveal this bit of news to the world, but it’s high time somebody spoke up. We’re done fearing the stigma. Here’s some backstory, in case you haven’t been reading our Messy Mom newsletters every week!
I want the best for my little girl. She is our everything. When my husband, Roderick, and I awoke on the morning of sweet Pageant’s eleventh birthday, our whole world changed. And we were willing to change with it; to do what the universe was telling us was best for Pageant.
But we can only bend so far.
Being a stay-at-mom in our lovely Kettering suburb surrounded by an enclave of pristine, cardigan-wearing mothers provides a certain pressure. A need. To impress, to keep up, to fit in. So, when our precious angel started to play with her noodles at suppertime – never touching them with her hands as they danced in front of her wide-eyed face – we knew that we had a gifted child. We also knew that the pressure was on to send her to the very best school for children with her special talents.
Roderick and I are magical-typical. That is, we do not contain the ability to perform magic. The politically correct term that we insist on using in our household is indeed “magical-typical”, but the more common slang for people like us is “muggle”. We had heard of children born into “normal” (Ha! Whatever “normal” means these days! That’s basically a curse word in our house. ;]) families like ours who still contain extraordinary gifts of the magical world themselves, without any previous family history, but we could never prepare ourselves for the reality.
Jeanine and Charlotte, two fellow mothers of similar-aged children who live in our cul-de-sac, insisted upon my announcement of Pageant’s abilities that I set my sights on sending her to Beauxbatons Academy of Magic in France, as it is far and away the quintessential boarding program for a posh young woman with its status as an all-girls school and with not nearly the amount of dark baggage that Hogwarts retains. As magical-typical parents of magical-typical children, Jeanine and Charlotte simply only had rumors about the wizarding world to go on.
Roderick and I read every parenting book we could find on the matter, including the classic standards like Growing Up Wandless: The Struggle of the Muggle-Born Child Wizard and Dispatches From The Floo Network: How My Child Taught Me About The World That Wasn’t Mine, all of which assured us that the right school would pick the right child. Whilst the other mothers were scurrying about in a huff regarding application essays, exam marks, and alumni interviews for their magical-typical children’s middle school experiences, Roderick and I simply had to wait.
On the spring morning that Pageant turned eleven, a black-and-grey spotted owl arrived on her windowsill, and our decision was thusly made. Pageant had been invited to attend the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
As I write this, Pageant has just returned home for holiday from her second year.
I am taking my child out of Hogwarts.
Roderick and I are consulting with a child psychologist on the matter of next steps in Pageant’s education. As she has recently been inundated with visceral scenes of death, torture, animal abuse, and racially-charged rhetoric, we need to let an expert help us examine what is best for her at this juncture in her emotional development.
Why am I taking my brilliant child out of the highest-rated magical program on the continent? Here are 5 reasons. We should have seen the warning signs.
- Where Was The Paperwork?
When Jeanine and Charlotte sent their daughters and sons to pristine magical-typical boarding schools Dulwich and Woldingham, they often complained of the hours spent on the documentation and legal forms that were required of them as the student’s parent and/or guardian. I am not sure if I missed an envelope in the post, or if there was an email in which I was supposed to find some PDFs that perhaps filed away into my Spam folder, but I never once was approached or contacted to sign or read anything regarding my child’s entry into a seven-year boarding program at a haunted castle far away from home.
This concerns me. There was no liability paperwork whatsoever. In her first year, Pageant broke her arm falling off of a flying broomstick during a school-sponsored event called “Quidditch”, and not only was I not notified, but she was simply sent into a room in the castle and given an herbal elixir by a woman named Pomfrey who had no medical licensing whatsoever. Roderick and I scoured Google for her reviews as a pediatrician, but our efforts were fruitless. The woman has no legally sound medical degrees or credentials whatsoever.
The lack of any sort of formal registration process is alarming. How do they know whether Pageant – or any other child – is up to date with her vaccinations? How do they know that my baby sometimes reacts poorly to amoxicillin and has a mild tree nut allergy?!
- She Was Bitten And Then Thrown Across The Room By A Creature During Class Time
A gripe that I have with any school program is the fact that my child is not allowed to choose subjects that interest her. She is unique! She likes to paint and draw! There was no outlet for her self-expression at Hogwarts. She was forced into a tough curriculum – the most alarming course of which was called “Defense Against The Dark Arts”. One would think that a parent would be required to perhaps sign a waiver of some kind before a child delves into such content! Charlotte’s little boy had to get a special permission slip signed by her before he handled a Bunsen burner for the first time in his magical-typical biology class at Woldingham.
During second term of her first year at Hogwarts, Pageant’s instructor released some creatures called Cornish Pixies into the classroom. These little shrill creatures have incredibly sharp teeth, which we now know due to a scar that remains on Pageant’s cheek. Two of them flew across the room, apparently untethered by any sort of regulated safety mechanism that one would hope the school had in place, and lifted up my baby girl by her ears, tossing her across the dungeon classroom. The moment that I heard of this news – which was A FULL DAY later – I wanted to speak to somebody at Hogwarts immediately. Which brings me to gripe #3.
- Lack Of Viable Communication Methods
Listen to this, fellow moms! They took my daughter’s iPhone away as soon as she stepped off of the train. She has no way to contact me via Facetime or Skype when she is away at school. And worse: THERE IS NO EMAIL ADDRESS OR PHONE NUMBER FOR THE SCHOOL. Nope! Nothing. Zero. Zilch. You can email “firstname.lastname@example.org” all you want, but you will get no response. I am simply outraged. The parenting books all said such wonderful things about Hogwarts. We were misled. As parents of magical children, I am stunned that our community is not more concerned. And perhaps most absurd of all: we were in fact expected to sign a permission form for one activity that the students partook in: to spend a day off-campus in a local town called Hogsmeade. With all of the terrible things that had already happened to Pageant at Hogwarts, I was practically begging for them to let her leave the campus! How about asking my and Roderick’s permission before my baby is forced as an assignment to practice a spell that literally makes her bones disappear?! Where was my slip to sign then?!?! Her foot is still not the same!
- She Witnessed A Human Boy Die
I once read a book called The Hunger Games that absolutely devastated me! I DO NOT recommend it! It features children trying to hurt each other in order to win some vague grand prize. Well, you should have seen my face this past fall when an owl flew onto my kitchen table (unsanitary!) with a letter from Pageant informing me that some older students were participating in horrific-sounding event called “The Triwizard Tournament”, wherein it was assumed that an underaged competitor could get brutally injured and in some cases actually die, per historic precedent. In this gladiatorial “Tournament”, a boy was made to publicly fight a dragon.
That’s right. You read that right, fellow mommy warriors!
Fight. A. Dragon.
At most, I had read some articles about Hogwarts having some possibly less-than-satisfactory security provisions in place in order to attempt to prevent co-ed mingling after hours, but this?!
As any reasonable adult would assume, the dragon was able to breathe fire, and therefore the boy died during this “stage” of the competition. You know, since an impossibly powerful mystical creature chased him in flight and breathed real fire onto him.
My baby girl and hundreds of other teens and preteens witnessed this human boy die. I had just shown her Beaches the previous summer in order to introduce the concept of death into our safe household. Well, all bets are off now. She is impossibly traumatized. We are paying three professionals for multiple sessions per week.
I am absolutely tongue-tied at the prospect of how the school is still open. We have a perfectly functional legal system in England, and the idea that a parent has yet to sue astonishes me.
- My Child Is Too Unique To Be “Sorted”
We understand how rare it is to find a boarding school that is totally and completely free, but there is a limit to how much we can take. This barbaric “sorting” process was a huge deal-breaker for Roderick and I. Hogwarts forces the children – yes, even my extraordinary child – into very limiting social boxes by “sorting” them into one of four “houses”.
Nope. Not happening. My child is her own person. She loves to laugh. She hates pineapple. She sings along to daddy’s rock music in the car. She blows bubbles. She cannot possibly be described by one lone “house”, and I frankly start to tear up with anger at the prospect of a school system being so ignorant to the needs of my very special, unique, and perfectly imperfect child. Do NOT tell my daughter that she has limits. She is more than some “badger” or “snake”.
I don’t know about you, fellow moms, but all of this was just too much for my and Roderick’s hearts to handle. Some of you brave mommas out there might like the “tough love” that it encourages in your little ones! They certainly learn some crucial survival skills through rigorous hands-on experience, like that one third year student who almost died because he used the wrong faucet in the boy’s restroom and a giant venomous demon snake came out of the wall.
I do not think that it is for everyone. Ultimately, the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is not the right choice for our family. Our baby may be growing up, but she is still our baby, and that means that we want her to be able to get a good education and not need life-saving emergency medical care literally three times per month. We’re looking at some charter schools now! There is one in Yorkshire where the grades are animal symbols, and we really like that.
Until next week, Messy Moms! Get ready for a fun new DIY guacamole recipe!