If You Have to Eat Crow, How Do You Season It?

by on March 19, 2012 · 15 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Education, Popular, San Diego, The Widder Curry

Many months ago I wrote an article that caused a huge rift in my family; many responses from Rag readers to the point that we needed to shut down the article because of the intensity of the comments from the readers.  Because I do not want to rekindle that discussion again, I am asking my daughter to read this article over before I sent it on to be published.

The first article spoke of a granddaughter of mine, age 15, that was going to be retained in her high school for not completing her assignments in any of her classes.  As an educator myself, I was appalled to think that in today’s society a young student would be forced to repeat all the classes of a particular grade because work was not turned in. To make matters worse, my field of expertise was teaching teachers how to “Individualize the Curriculum” and how to teach to the needs of the student.  I felt that this was not being done in the case of my granddaughter.

What I did not take into consideration was the agony of my daughter and her husband in trying to make the best decision for their child.  They had done a great deal of research on retention,  and felt that the best move was for their daughter to repeat the 9th grade.  I, on the other hand, had read nothing that would indicate this was a good move and, in fact, did my thesis on “Retention  of Students” where-in only one child had been successful in a retention situation, and he was a kindergartner retained for social reasons.  However, I do acknowledge that my research was 45 years ago and did not include Charter Schools.

My daughter was very angry at me for writing the article and felt that when she needed my support I did not give her any.  Which, unfortunately, is true.  I do not remember if it was Thanksgiving or Christmas time that we – she and I – felt that it would be best if I didn’t join them for the festivities of the holiday because she did not feel very friendly towards me.  Our relationship is still strained, but I am hopeful that in the near future the stress will ease.

So why am I writing this article now?

Because I have to admit – not an easy thing to do for me – that my daughter and her husband were right about their daughter.

She is doing wonderfully in school this year in the grade that she is repeating.  Her homework is coming in on time; she has won accolades for a Greek Drama that she wrote; she has been recognized by others as having a tremendous talent in the writing and directing fields;  she is doing beautifully in math and science; and, best of all, she has been accepted by her peers as someone they want to be friends with.  With the semester over and a new one beginning, she is carrying almost a 4.0 average.

It hasn’t been easy for her and her parents.  They hired a tutor to work with her during the summer so that she could catch up to those things she neglected last year.  The tutor taught her how to section out the work that needed to be done and gave her many ideas of how to complete it. (It should be noted that when the tutor went on vacation she did not come back and this threw my granddaughter off for a while.  But she persevered  and everything is current at this time.)  I am so proud of her.

And a tremendous bonus for her:  About one year ago their family dog passed away at the age of 18.  Some of the family members wanted another dog, but one of the “decision makers” did not.  Recently, my granddaughter again asked to have a dog, because a friend of hers had a new litter of puppies and they were giving away the dogs.  My granddaughter was told that if she turned in all the work that was still outstanding and cleaned up her room, she could have one of the puppies.  Today, March 14, the puppy came to live with them.  Again, I have the crow cooking; just don’t know what seasoning to put on it.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Roseann March 19, 2012 at 8:22 am

A little salt and pepper works. :) Having just served humble pie at my house, I can totally identify. I’m glad that you are rebuilding a relationship with your daughter and son-in-law and that your granddaughter is doing so well.


avatar ernie March 19, 2012 at 9:40 am

i frick a see my crow when i eat it! no season required! my new prayer is, “Lord keep your arms around my shoulders and Your hand over my mouth!”


avatar judi Curry March 19, 2012 at 10:35 am

Hey, Ro, If I were a baker I probably would have tried humble pie, but I really screwed up on this one, so an entire crow is probably the answer. And Nunya, I didn’t know I had to screw up so badly to be a member of the human race. I would like to say I have learned my lesson, but…..Anna – looking forward to the holidays this year. Since I am “puppy-sitting” this weekend, maybe the breach is closing. And Ernie – I hope the Lord is strong enough to keep both hands across my mouth. Thanks for all of your comments.


avatar Nunya March 19, 2012 at 8:51 am

Welcome to the human race.


avatar Anna Daniels March 19, 2012 at 8:54 am

Judi- you leavened the crow with wisdom. Good for you. Our most precious relationships do not come with blue prints for success. As Wallace Stevens wrote “The imperfect is hot within us.” I’m glad you wrote this article. And I hope your family will be united in a steadfast love around the Thanksgiving table this year.


avatar Ara Billuni March 19, 2012 at 11:04 am

Judi- (I hope you don’t mind my comment)
Hi, We met once at your granddaughter’s 1st commencement ceremony from her first charter school. I enjoyed the meeting as well as the day. I am one of your daughters very dearest friends and sometimes a mentor to your granddaughter through the EGA program she once attended. I am a great admirer and supporter of your granddaughter. What a JOY is it to read your latest article around this issue! I don’t have my own mom on this earth and your daughter has been an enormous comfort and advisor to me during times of dealing with “other mothers” in my life. Healing and repairing that relationship will only bring great rewards for you both. I can only imagine the enormous smile you must wear watching the progress of your granddaughter as she excels in her studies and as her teenage relationship with her parents flourish. Eating crow at times can be difficult, especially with family. You seem to be doing it respectfully, with class and dignity putting your family first. There is something to be said for that. I foresee a Thanksgiving with PHEASANT (crow) under glass, a divine dish!


avatar judi Curry March 19, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Dear Ara,
Of course I remember you and my daughter speaks of you all the time. My grief at the problems the original article generated was almost as bad as losing my husband 3 years ago. My daughter, as the youngest of 3 siblings, has had the hardest row of the girls. Never would I intentionally hurt her, and I was so unaware, at first, of how much she was hurting when I wrote the first piece. I am so very proud of both her, her husband, and, of course, her children. Thank you for understanding that I am trying to close the breach that I created almost a year ago. I know that you helped the family get through that time and for that I am grateful to you. Judi


avatar Wireless Mike March 19, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Judi, the best seasoning is the great success your granddaughter is having in school. It was your love and concern for her that made you care enough to write the first article. The love and concern is not right or wrong, it just is.

Families disagree, it is what families do. You are fortunate to have a family that can disagree and stay together.


avatar judi Curry March 19, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Thanks, Mike, for your thoughtful comments. I think of everyone I know and wonder if anyone is not dysfunctional in some manner. I hope that my “crow eating”
will help my family become more cohesive in the next years.


avatar Tim Hopper March 19, 2012 at 5:51 pm

So your daughter cut you off for writing an article based on your area of expertise. Uninvited you from family celebrations and turned on the hate light? Shame on her for her small minded, ungrateful and disrespectful treatment of you.
So her daughter actually improved this year with the help of a tutor. This does not invalidate your article. Why were grandaughters grades allowed to deteriorate in the first place? Why no tutor last year? No wonder your daughter got so angry, she is guilty of at least parental inattension and she knows it. I say she owes you the appologies.


avatar judi Curry March 19, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Tim, I don’t know you and, after reading what you just wrote, I don’t think I want to know you. I made a terrible mistake in my first article when I even wrote about our family. It caused an unnecessary rift between not only my youngest daughter and her family, but with my other children as well. She was, and has been, protecting her child, no more so than a lion protects her cub. I was wrong. Not her. Adolescence is a difficult age; the old adage ” . . . you can lead a horse . . . . .” also pertains to humans. She was just not ready to accept the circumstances of not turning in work because she wasn’t ready. This year she is ready. She has matured; she is more focused; she is enjoying learning. My daughter doesn’t owe me any apology. I appreciate your relieving me of the blame, but, truly, I deserved it. As Ernie said up above – “Lord keep your arms around my shoulders and Your hand over my mouth!” It is a hard lesson for me to learn.


avatar john March 19, 2012 at 8:29 pm

Are we still seeing an abnormal number of crows in the area as we have for some time now, chasing away the more native birds?
I don’t think I want to know them, either.
So what’s up with the retention thing? IIRC you have to actually go out of your way to fail California public school curriculum, and they give plenty of advance warning if the student is falling behind MOST of the time. There is the rare teacher who will happily fail a child if they think that’s what they are trying to do.
This issue of a child being “ready” or not at age 15 does seem strange. It’s not that the material is so hard but that she wasn’t applying herself, right? Graduation would be two years plus in the future, right? Isn’t that when we decide a child is ready? She’s got maturing to do and will do it. Sounds like she needed a kick in the pants, did it really need to be an extra year in school learning the same thing over? Oh that’s right everyone realized how stupid that was long ago, rejected “retention” as a solution, now we call it “charter” schooling, AFTER we kick them in the pants with kicking them out of regular school yet have to rearrange the rest of their education because an extra year in the same grade all over again is just a waste of time and money.
I’m not so sure Tim’s all wrong here. You were right, and so was your daughter. You knew retention was a dumb idea long ago. Your daughter knew her daughter needed a wake up call, a kick in the pants. The education system found a way to do that, and when it’s all over she’ll have probably spent no more than the standard 4 years in high school. A kick in the pants without a year of groundhog days stuck in another year of Mr. Hand’s History Class with Jeff Spiccoli.
Nobody was right or wrong here, if you and your daughter needed a rite of passage, that this ordeal provided, that’s another issue- but Drama class was never my strong subject. :-p
(I will happily “eat crow” if you can tell me this girl won’t have a H.S. diploma in her hand until she is between 18-19, and not 17-18 . That is what “retention” got you in the old days. )


avatar judi Curry March 20, 2012 at 6:57 am

Well, John, some interesting comments. First, my granddaughter is in a Charter School, not the “public school” per se. She had been diagnosed with ADD early in her schooling. She is a super intelligent young lady; a voracious reader; and this was not realized when it should have been. My daughter and her husband had done all the right things for her – but unless she was interested in the subject being taught, she did not respond to her teachers. (I can sympathize with her – I was a high school dropout – left the day I turned 16 because I was bored and frustrated.)
Young people all mature at different ages and stages in their life. My granddaughter, born in January, has been caught by the age thing; too young in one instance; too old in the other. It took her a little longer to reach her maturity than someone born earlier but is the same age as her. But if you look at her today, she is like a freshly blooming flower. The excitement about learning is there; she is interested in many subjects, not just the ones that were of interest to her last year. In some ways she now reminds me of a freshly opened bottle of champagne. And so….I was wrong in trying to promote my philosophy of education to the extent that I did. My daughter was not wrong in defending her daughter the way she did. We both wanted what was best for my granddaughter. She knew better than I. You are lucky that you won’t have to eat crow, because I still am not sure the best way to season it except to say that I was wrong.


avatar Zach on the side March 19, 2012 at 11:14 pm

Congratulations to your granddaughter! That’s all I have to say!


avatar Joe Hartley April 16, 2012 at 8:44 am

Eating crow is not something pleasant or tasty. It is to be avoided so when you feel that you are forced to eat crow instead of redefining the situation so that the other is wrong, the crow needs to be cold and without any seasoning.

This is well done. We have all done tis and it’s nice to see you can look at the others POV.



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