Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Contract: Impossible

“That’s impossible!”

I looked at what Jennifer was pointing at on the contract she was supposed to sign. Yes, my 10-year-old daughter is signing a contract. It’s a teacher-parent-student contract from her school. We had to sign one last year and do it again this year. I’d told her to read over each line of the contract before signing it and, apparently, she found something wrong with it.

In the section of the contract where it talks about the teacher’s goals, it says that the teacher will strive to provide a safe and friendly environment.

I read this over then looked at Jen. “What do you mean it’s impossible?”

She shook her head and looked at me as though I had the IQ of a thumbtack. “Nobody can do that.”

It was then I figured out what she meant. She thought the teacher was promising to provide a safe and friendly environment in the classroom.

So I told Jennifer, “Well, she is going to TRY to provide a safe and friendly environment. Look, see. It says the teacher will 'strive' to do that. Not that she is promising to do that.”

Jennifer frowned. “But this is a contract.”

Ah, even at 10 years old, she understood that you don’t fool around with a contract. Contracts mean business!

If only I had the time and insight to explain to her the concept of a “loophole." See, this is why doctors never say someone is DEFINITELY sick with something when there are no test results to back them up. They want to cover their ass in case somebody tries to sue them if they screw up!

Instead, I told Jennifer that “strive” is the same thing as “try” and that the teacher will “try” to provide a safe and friendly environment.

Then I told her the cold, hard facts: “You can never promise to create a safe environment. Nowhere is 100% safe. You could do all of these things to make sure someplace is safe, but there’s always going to be one rotten apple to screw it all up.”

This is something I have learned as a parent. No matter how safe I try to make our home, a baby/toddler/child/teenager might do something that could cause him/her to get hurt or sick. I’m reminded of the safety locks we put on our kitchen cabinets. Jesse tore those right off! Or the dangerous items both hubby and I have put waaayyy up high out of the kids’ reach. They found a way to get to those things, anyhow! No locks can keep a determined kid away. But we sure TRY to make our home safe. It is the best that we can do – and at least accidents won’t happen so easily.

Jennifer seemed to understand this is true for anywhere – even a classroom. We try to do the safe thing, the positive thing, the friendly thing. But something or someone could mess that all up.

She accepted this. Fortunately, our conversation was enough for her to understand that it was all about TRYING to do the things outlined in the contract, and not exactly guaranteeing those things will happen.

She finished reading to the bottom of the contract then signed her name. Then we moved on to some other paperwork she had for us to go over.

Hopefully, she learned something important today. Something she could take with her into the rest of her life.

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