Thursday, June 23, 2005

Star Trek: the pledge

This falls into the don't-know-whether-to-laugh-or-cry category, but I decided to agree with this young lad's mother and laugh. Here is the story of an eight year old suspended from school over the Pledge of Allegiance, which he duly recited, although apparently his allegiance got pledged to the wrong thing--everything. Here is the complete post from Ms. Jaworski's Beauty Dish blog (via Boingboing):
I got a call from the elementary school administrative assistant this morning.

"Mrs. Jaworski?" I could hear her tapping a pencil against the desk.

"Uh yes, and it's Ms., please."

"Your son, 8, has been suspended for the day. Come here and pick him up."

She didn't give me time to answer, to ask questions, her voice disappeared as if someone cut the line. I stood in the kitchen, my bare feet aching from yesterday's marathon, and I took a deep breath. My son can be a nut at times, but he's never done the kinds of things that troubled kids do. He doesn't talk back, he doesn't pick fights, and he's never destroyed property. I couldn't picture him doing anything scholastically evil. Maybe he stripped and ran around the school naked, I thought. I grabbed my keys and headed out the door.

The principal met me in her office. She closed the door tightly behind me and invited me to sit in a stuffed orange vinyl chair.

"Mrs. Jaworski, 8 has been suspended from school for one day." She wore an arctic blue power jacket over black slacks, and I self-consciously tried to pull my hooded sweatshirt further over my pink pajamas.

"It's Ms., please. And sorry for my attire, but I ran a marathon yesterday and I'm too sore to change this morning." I tried to infect her with my smile, but she wore a tight-lipped expression as frosty as her jacket. "So, anyway. What did he do?" I picked at the hem of my sweatshirt, looked just to the right of her face. I couldn't meet her eyes. I felt nervous. I felt underdressed. I wondered where 8 was.

So she told me what he did. And as she told me, I started to laugh. I didn't laugh a little, either, but I belly-laughed and grabbed my stomach. My son stood with his class this morning, put small right hand over heart, faced the American flag, and recited his own personal pledge of allegiance:

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United Federation of Planets, and to the galaxy for which it stands, one universe, under everybody, with liberty and justice for all species."

"Mrs. Jaworski. This isn't humorous. The Pledge is an extremely important and patriotic moment each morning in the classroom. I am ashamed of your son's behavior, and I hope you are, too."

I wanted to say, Hey Lady, it's a big universe. Why should we pledge allegiance to a mixed-up country? Why shouldn't my son embrace the potential of stardust? But I stood, extended my hand, apologized for my laughter, slung my purse over my shoulder, opened her door to find my son, 8, red-eyed sitting on the wooden bench bordering the World Map wall.

I'm sitting here, working on computer things, and Mr. 8 sits in the living room. He has to write the "real" pledge of allegiance fifty times before he can return to school. But first he's watching Star Trek. Damn straight.
Hey kid. I'll boldly go with you on this one.