Throwing In The Towel

The expression, “throw in the towel,” is derived from boxing. After a boxer has suffered an unrecoverable beating and his corner wants to the fight to stop, the towel is thrown in to indicate concession. In that scenario, the gesture is equal to admitting defeat. But throwing in the towel in some circumstances is not a declaration of defeat but rather an admission that a chapter needs to be closed. This is the case with our son’s current school. I was invited to listen in on a meeting with the charter representative this morning. Parents were randomly summoned to express their views on the school. It was purely by accident that I even ended up in the meeting since there was no formal announcement sent out. I was speaking with the mother of one of our son’s best friends when another parent saw her, grabbed her by the arm and insisted she go to the library. “The charter people are here,” the mom said with a mash of enthusiasm and anger in her voice. The two moms motioned for me to come as well. So, I did. I was met with other disgruntled parents, each of them with different stories of frustration. The charter representative, a reserved woman who was composed yet stern, typed as parents (mostly mothers) spoke. She tried to get everyone to dampen their elevated emotions but she was unsuccessful. These are our children we are speaking about. These are our prized possessions. If they have been wronged, we involuntarily go into attack mode. The school Principal periodically buzzed in to remind parents about the incoming kindergarten presentation she was conducting in the nearby auditorium. Reluctantly, a couple of parents walked out of the “charter people” meeting and walked into the auditorium. I made my points succinctly, a rarity for me, and I left as well. I communicated that the teachers needed more training, better communication and that the Principal had a culture at her school that was not conducive to best educational practices. When I walked out of the door, I knew undoubtedly that our son would not be returning to that school under any circumstances. If they institute any changes, even with the new Principal that starts sometime at the end of this year, the changes won’t take place soon enough to turn things around for our son. In other words, when it comes to this school, I have thrown in the allegorical towel. Last night, I went over paperwork for the magnet school into which our son has been accepted and I felt calm. I know it won’t be without its own flaws and challenges but I already feel a sense of relief, knowing that in the fall our son will be starting a new and more fulfilling chapter of his life. I also threw in the towel on my tv spec yesterday. I realized that I wrote my first traditional tv spec in years, right from the heart. But I hadn’t delved deeper into the series and its established structure. So, I was up until 2:00 a.m. this morning, going beat by beat through an episode of the series for which I am writing my spec. Starting from scratch on my spec will also present its own challenges, but it isn’t necessarily the easier road that gets us to the goal. Sometimes, in order to get to the end we want, we have to be willing to throw in the towel.


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