This is a very difficult subject for me to write about but as my fans and contacts continue to email me with questions about it, I felt like I needed to put this painful situation in words. On March 12, 2013 my daughter was assaulted and video taped at at Hartland high school in Hartland, MI (Livingston county) while a teacher was present. Hartland, an upper middle-class small Republican tea party community 20 minutes north of Ann Arbor is known for its mix of gun toting teenagers that hunt with their “ma and pa” and heroin addicted teens seeking to escape from the burn out of too much and too many forced sports and parental expectations at an early age.
It is beneath this not so lovely backdrop that my precious daughter suffered from amnesia, a seizure, nose fracture, concussion and multiple contusions-this story was on national news. Though the student that attacked her was charged to aggravated assault and battery nothing can express the turmoil that my children and I have gone through during this time. Without writing about specific details such as death threats and governmental immunity in the public schools (that’s right, if you send your children to public school-the school cannot be held responsible for your child’s safety!), I would like to write about the emotional healing process and how this situation has effected our “natural” lives.
As a natural mother, I sacrificed my life and body for my daughter. From the moment I was pregnant with her tiny life, it was a time of joy and happiness and unspoken commitment to raise her in a natural, aware and socially responsible way. Her life in my womb was filled with strength, hope and excitement as I was planning my first home birth with her and of course breast feed her. When her home birth finally came and she entered into this world after 20 long, arduous hours of natural labor on a bean bag of my bedroom floor. Tiny and white with thick black hair, she did not let out a powerful cry, but powerful admonition as she looked around the room with her big blue eyes- she was already aware at such an early age. She and I embarked on a courageous life adventure together. The fact that the famous Aviva Romm M.D. was her mid-wife only added to the strong female foundation I had already laid for her. My life, as it was with my other two children-would change with her and for her. To me there was no other way.
Being raised in an alternative home can be difficult if you are not in a community that supports your belief system-even a tiny bit. In Michigan where we live most people do not care about clean water, fresh air or recycling. Healthy eating here means you drink soy protein shakes on your way home from the gym and drink light beer with your dinner. I tried my best to surround myself with people who were like minded and with that I homeschooled my children. This was not to shelter them, but to give them time to develop into their own person and autonomy.
When we became a Waldorf family in 1996 things changed even more, We rid our lives of poison plastics and television and spent our days creating music and art-surrounding ourselves with natural materials and inspiring ourselves by nature. Trips to the farm by our house every week to see our cow and get milk became an important life lesson to my children. I learned with them. Our life was enchanting and idealic, we had a shambala of French and German poetry, music lessons and art. More than that my children spent their days making forts outside with sticks and wood. Beautiful but not exactly perfect.
When my children and I ‘s father divorced, commencing in 2010, their father felt putting them in school was the most important goal in the separation. I did not fight this, as I had already accepted the fact that the gates to Eden were shut. Shut they were, though we lived in a “very good” school district-no amount of coaxing or explaining could prepare my children for the misery, desperation and emptiness of public school in the United States. The first week of seventh grade my son came home with several web addresses for violent porn sites, a child had over dosed on medicine in the bathroom and by mid-year there were rumors and stories surfacing that anal sex is the only way to have sex as you can’t get pregnant.
On top of all this societal drama was the very real and disparaging fact that the test scores are god and the subject matter they teach in schools now, under the “no child left behind” Act are psychologically unattainable and intellectually abusive-as the things my children were learning were way above their age limit and age comprehension. As you know with Montessori and Waldorf, stress is on age appropriate learning so that the child can love to learn and be able to reattain what the learn providing it is interesting to them.
My solution to this would be to pull them out and just send them for electives. This alleviated a lot of the stress. However, I was not able to do this for high school, my thought was, they have gotten their feet wet-now they are ready to dive in. Nothing could be further from the truth. I saw changes in my two older children that I did not like. The stress of high school and having to study all night and get up at 5 am made them vary anxious and nervous. My daughter, whom loved to draw, sing and play piano-stopped everything. She would just lock herself in her room to study, any conversation I had with her ended in the word “test.” I wanted to pull her out simply because I could see she was suffering from too much intellectual pressure.
To make matters worse there were bullies. I had not prepared my children for the chance of being illegally abused and assaulted in public. They knew there were mean people out there and had dealt with people who were abusive and addicted to alcohol before, but this type of bullying, where you are singled out among peers, ganged up on and video taped was not something I could have prepared them for. Even for me, growing up in the ghetto of Detroit, had not experienced this type of indignation and tragedy. The day it happened to my own child, changed our entire life.
The day my daughter was assaulted, she was very nervous about a test she was going to take. An all A student, she had stayed up for nights studying, even when I told her not to. The bully that attacked her picked my daughter as the object of the day to get her anger out on. My daughter did not “know” this girl but had observed her most of the school year. The bully, whom ran the classroom by starting conversations with “Im gonna kick your ass, byotch” and ended them with “my father abuses me” was in the habit of threatening people and then making them feel sorry for her. It was a confusing schizophrenic jargon that had worked effectively on her peers since grade school. My daughter however, wasn’t buying it.
On March 12th, the bully came up to my daughter several times with her friends, threatening my daughter and accusing my daughter of looking at her. My daughter rolled her eyes and wasn’t giving this girl the typical response she was looking for. This caused the bully and her comrades to become increasingly insolent, it was later found out in a police report that another student overheard the bully planning to attack my daughter and film it at the end of class-and that’s what happened. Though my daughter suffers from amnesia because she was knocked unconscious for most of the attack- from the video you see the desks all cleared away and my daughter unsuspectingly waiting by the door to leave the classroom with her 45lb backpack. The bully, laughs in the camera and points to my daughter, non of the other children with back packs on-with their cameras rolling, they wait for “the show.”
With only minutes left til they were dismissed the bully started to grab my daughter, touch her and hug her to try to elicit response-when my daughter turns around to slide the girl off of her- the girl grabs my daughter by the pony tail and slams her head into the ground backwards, jumps on my daughter and punches her in the face for ten seconds until the teacher decides to step in. For this my daughter was suspended for fighting. Though I have since pulled my daughter from school, it is going to be a long fight with the school to try to clear her record. Lucky, for my daughter the new anti-bully law went into effect in December 2012. The video, which was passed around on cell phones, uploaded to social media and caused so much humiliation and pain for us-ended up being our best friend because it exonerated my daughter from any wrong doing and helped to arrest the perpetrator,
What we learned
I had heard that Waldorf kids do not do well in public school, but to have experienced this truth first hand is tragic. What the bully and these kids saw in my child was a strength and unbreakable spirit that they didn’t have and didn’t trust. This goes back to the orgonomic principles the Dr. Reich taught that the human emotions and feelings we are not allowed to express and repress are not tolerable and can produce frustration, contempt and even murderous rage. An obvious reference to this is the response that armored adults have to a crying baby. In this way, I see my children as always being a target for the self-loathing, emotionally dead public school mind zombies. I have no answers on what others should do- I only know, I am very proud of my daughter through this because not once has she owned their shame and hatred. You can see that on her television interview, she doesn’t not see herself as apart of their mental disease and societal illness- but a part from it. This will be the strongest determining factor in her future and recovery. My daughter speaks of studying law now and becoming a judge, I have no doubt that this tragedy has become the impetus and stepping stone towards her future. I can only say, love and attach yourself to your children because when that day comes-when the outside forces of mechanical and emotionally deadness come to carry your loved ones away-they will be strong enough to resist, to fight and survive.