Dear Parent or Permanent Nanny,
As you know, we at the Upper East Side Montessori Center for Gifted and Special College-Bound Toddlers pride ourselves in a forward-thinking, restraint-free approach to helping children learn. We won’t even use the word “educate,” because as you know it ultimately derives from the Latin word meaning “to lead,” and what gives us the right? In fact, we find that it is we who are learning the most. The children, free from labels, prejudices, and any sort of working logic view the world in such a way that makes them fantastic teachers. Why, just the other day, little Glacier Stevenson had the most wonderful insight on the Arab Spring during voluntary NPR time when she said “How do they know it’s spring when it’s always so hot there?” How do they know, indeed.
So it is with deep regret that I tell you we may no longer be the best match for your son Scott. We have tried our best to integrate him into the fold, but at this point it just doesn’t look like it’s working. The chief reasons are laid out below:
1. While most of the children have been successfully guided to no longer recognize personal property, Scott still refuses to give his blankie to the greater good of the community. I understand that his Nana made it for him, but these are the very distinctions and separations (“his” blankie, “his” Nana) from which we try to wean children in our program.
2. Scott seems to have an unhealthy fixation with “fun.” As you know, the children’s days are completely unstructured, much as they will be after they earn their liberal arts degrees in 20 years. We like them to be prepared. They all adapt within a few weeks and mix recreation (finger painting, folk chanting) with more constructive activities (insight meditation, vision questing). Scott is predisposed simply to sitting in a corner and making two wood chunks chase each other. By the way, thank you for your offer of a set of “blocks,” but we prefer toys that have not been raped by the hand of man. Anyway, after several days of this behavior we encouraged Scott to try one of the sensory deprivation tanks for a short 30-minute meditation. After five minutes he fled the tank and ran for the window. I don’t want to start closing our windows. Do you know what has closed windows? Prison.
3. Scott’s sturdy constitution is intimidating the other children. His ability to eat and process gluten, dairy, peanuts, and meat at will is something few of them have ever seen, and it is difficult to keep them from feeling “less than” in light of his freewheeling dietary habits. We’re currently spinning their allergies to most edible food as unique, but I’m not sure how long we can keep that up.
Speaking of unique, and I know I’ve made this point before, but I want to take one more opportunity to encourage you to change Scott’s name. While I appreciate the heritage of a very Anglo-Saxon, commonplace name like Scott, I feel the other children benefit greatly from their unique names. Just now, flipping through the dictionary, I came across gems like Howitzer, Farfalle, and Gems. It’s not too late. Perhaps even changing it to something less common will help him realize that identity is a man-made construct.
In closing, I want to thank you for your patronage of our Center, but this Friday will be Scott’s last day. I’ve enclosed a pamphlet we use in situations like this, to help you enroll Scott at a less unique school, entitled “How to Deal with the Aggressively Plain.”
Lattice Elderberry Williams-Tate
Colin Fisher is an actor and writer living in Manhattan with his wife, cat, dog, &c &c.
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