It’s never Mom’s fault

From Sophie Hannah’s Kind of Cruel, which is set in England:

“ … today there are three mothers waiting on the corner for the bus. Usually there’s only one, who cuts me dead because I once said the wrong thing. I’ve forgotten her name and the name of her shaggy-headed child, but I think of her as OCB, which stands for organic cereal bar. She brings one every afternoon for her son, whose hair, she once told me, has never been cut because she can’t bear the thought of vandalizing any precious part of him . . .

“Before she decided I was beyond the pale and not worth talking to, I learned a lot about what it means to be a parent from listening to OCB. It seems fairly straightforward: if you have a child that behaves like a savage, deflect association from his shortcomings by accusing the teachers of ‘pathologizing’ him and failing to meet his individual needs, especially if these include the need to poke other children in the eye with a fork. If your son fails a test, accuse the school of being too outcome-focused; if he is lazy and says everything is boring, blame the teacher for not stretching or stimulating him in the right way; if your child is not particularly bright, couch the problem in terms of the school failing to identify and plug a ‘skills gap’; crucially, ostracize anyone who dares to suggest that some gaps _ those belonging to clever children, specifically _ are easier to fill with skills than others, and that, hypothetically, a teacher might try endlessly to lob into the chasm some fairly basic proficiencies and fail to lodge them there, owing to an inherently unsympathetic microclimate of massive stupidity.”

Thanks to Jeff Landaw. Hannah is the daughter of British blogger Norm Geras, who died recently.

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