The Bigger Child

, , , , , | | Learning | May 16, 2019

(I am a kindergarten teacher at a private school. The children are waiting for their parents to pick them up. It has been quite a difficult day.)

Mother: *furious* “EXCUSE ME! Why is my son telling me you did not give him some birthday cake?”

Me: “Actually—”

Mother: “I demand you give him some cake now, or I am calling the police for abuse!”

Me: “Actually, Mrs. [Mother], your son did get a piece of cake; however, he decided to throw it at one of the girls. Then, when [Son’s Friend] didn’t give him his piece, he kicked him in the crotch. We do not reward bullying or violence, Mrs. [Mother], and your son was appropriately reprimanded. A letter will be sent to you with more details.”

Mother: *blushing* “HOW DARE YOU ACCUSE ME SON OF BULLYING?! I DEMAND CAKE NOW OR I WILL HAVE YOUR A**E FIRED!”

Me: “You will not use that language in this building. I am going to have to ask you to leave. You and your son are no longer welcome here.”

(She continued screaming for another couple of minutes until another teacher came out with the aforementioned cake inside a glass cover. She stormed up to it and tried to wrestle it off the teacher. The cover was broken and both the mother and the teacher were injured. The mother then stormed out, smashing a window in the process. We were all a bit rattled by it, but tried to calm everything down when two police officers arrived. They said they’d had reports of a woman — me — wielding a knife, demanding that I “convert the children to the burka” — a literal quote. We showed them the security footage of the area and had to go down to the police station to give statements — the mother included, who was still outside being seen by a paramedic. The other teacher refused to press charges and we were all free to go. A week later, the mother showed up again to drop off her son. I refused, saying they were no longer welcome. She had another tantrum and broke the same window we had just replaced the day before. She then left, screaming that she would take her money elsewhere. At this school, parents do not have to pay for kindergarten if they are claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, which she was. Her sister left her son with us occasionally, and I’ve heard that that mother has built such a reputation that she has to take her son out of the county and is going to be homeschooling. I’m considering allowing the child to attend with us again, even if just for a bit of stability, but I’m fearful of what he might do. It was a first-time incident, but it was pretty serious.)

Food For Thought-less Students

, , , , , | | Learning | May 15, 2019

(I live with my very poor, but caring family. My dad has recently been sent to the hospital after spraining his foot and my mom is still being affected by the aftereffects of her stroke and is usually bedridden. We are so tight on money that we have to skip dinner sometimes. There is a boy that is not very well-liked by anyone at our school, and for some reason, he just seems to hate me. I’m hanging out with my friends at lunch.)

Bully: “Hey, [My Name], you have food?”

(Due to our family’s status as low-income, I receive free school lunches. I should also mention that the bully is extremely spoiled and wealthy.)

Me: “Yeah, but this is the only food I have for the day, so I can’t really share.”

Bully: *sulks away*

(I think nothing of it, since he usually acts this way, until the office calls me up. I’m confused and go up to see the vice principal. The bully is sitting there in the office with a smug grin.)

Vice Principal: “Now, [My Name], do you know why you’re here?”

Me: “Uh, no.”

Bully: “Yeah, you do.”

Vice Principal: *gestures at the bully to calm down* “Well, your friend here was telling me about how you were bullying and physically harassing him.”

(I know this is because the bully is mad at me because I didn’t give him half of my burrito.)

Me: “What did I do?”

Vice Principal: *raises an eyebrow* “Well, you see, [Bully] here told me that you threw a penny into his eye. I know this might sound really petty, but that is still considered assault and can result in punishment by the law.”

(I’m pretty scared at this point. I’m 14 and stressed out, and I don’t want anything to do with this. We talk some more, and the VP sends me outside to talk with the bully, then sends him outside so he can talk to me. I sit down.)

Vice Principal: “Now, I want you to confirm anything that you feel is true. He says he asked you for some food, and you then threw a penny into his eye. Is that true?

Me: “What? No! I got my lunch, sat with my friend, and started eating until he said that he wanted food. I told him I couldn’t afford any food for the day and he just left.”

Vice Principal: “Wait, didn’t your dad just get sent to the hospital?”

Me: “Yeah, and the stroke is still hitting my mom pretty hard. We sometimes skip dinner just so we can save enough money.”

Vice Principal: “How often does this happen a week?”

Me: “Where he asks me for money or food, or if I skip—“

Vice Principal: “Both.”

Me: “He asks me just about every single day, and I’d say maybe three or four dinners?”

Vice Principal: “All right, call in [Bully].”

Bully: “So, did you decide on the punishment for her yet?”

Vice Principal: “Yes. Her punishment is to receive more school lunches.”

Bully: “Wait, what?”

Vice Principal: “Is it true you ask her for food every day?”

Bully: “I guess?”

Vice Principal: “You guess? Did it ever occur to you that the only reason she doesn’t give you food is that she can’t?”

Bully: “What do you mean?”

Vice Principal:Both of her parents are currently in the hospital. She doesn’t get to eat dinner half the week. Her school lunch is her only source of food, and you are asking me to tell her off for not giving any to you?”

Bully: “What does have to do with her throwing s*** at me?”

Vice Principal: “No, she didn’t. We have cameras, and she did nothing of the sort. What we did catch was you insulting her.”

Bully: *sulking*

Vice Principal: “You will be staying a minimum of 40 yards away from her. You won’t talk to her, nor will you look at her. You will also be receiving two weeks’ worth of lunch detention for lying to me, lying about a situation, lying to get another student in trouble, attempted theft, and harassment. Get out of my office.”

Bully: *stomps off*

Vice Principal: “Listen, [My Name]. If anybody ever bothers you again over food or the likes, you just talk to me and I’ll do my best to support you, clear?”

Me: “Yeah. Thanks, [Vice Principal].”

(My father and mother both got out of the hospital a couple of weeks later and everything in our family is slowly coming back to our old standards. The bully was suspended when he tried to punch a boy when he asked for free food and the boy said no. Thanks to the Vice Principal for supporting me against that bully!)

Bullying Under Lab Conditions

, , , , , , | Learning | March 26, 2019

In my high school, all the science classrooms are on the same block with a massive hallway connecting all of them which hold equipment, emergency supplies, etc. Only the teachers are allowed down it except for emergencies, so it is known to students as the Forbidden Hall.

One day my class is doing a lab. My teacher is notorious for being absent-minded and missing out on the stuff going around his classroom. This is junior year, and since I am a crazy tomboy and I don’t have a boyfriend, I have become the target of ridicule and bullying, especially during labs, since our teacher is extra distracted by helping students and doesn’t notice the bullies. One of the bullies thinks it’ll be a great prank to throw a heavy history textbook at my head as a “prank.” Of course, the teacher doesn’t notice.

But my lab partner does, and he’s sick of these “pranks.” Before the bully can retrieve his history book, my lab partner picks it up and carries it to the Forbidden Hall. He looks left, looks right, then slides the history book all the way down the hall with surprising strength; it slides to a halt about five classrooms away. He then quietly goes back to our lab as if nothing ever happened.

The bully sneers at my lab partner and goes to retrieve his book, but our teacher, who noticed nothing of this exchange, is suddenly acutely aware of someone trying to enter the Forbidden Hall.

“[Student], you know you’re not allowed in there.”

“But–”

“No buts. Finish your lab.”

The student tries several more times during lab, but never gets past the teacher. When the bell rings, I leave for my next class with a grin on my face. I have no idea if the bully got his book back, but one glare from my friend stopped him ever throwing books at my head again.

Your Mouth Has Stamina

, , , , | Learning | March 1, 2019

(Growing up, I am as far from athletic as one can be, not that I care much. I also am completely unable to know when to stop talking. One day in seventh grade, a classmate has been bugging me the whole day, and continues while we are at recess. I ask him to stop it. This guy isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed and is quite aggressive.)

Classmate: “What, you wanna fight? I’m sure I can beat you!”

Me: “Well, of course you can! You have at least six kilos and ten centimetres on me. I’m not sure you should be proud about beating me.”

Classmate: “What?”

Me: “You’re far stronger than me. Being proud about beating me up would be as if I bragged about getting a better grade in a seventh-grade maths test than a first-grader.”

(This is where I should have stopped talking, but instead…)

Me: “…or said first-grader bragging about getting a better grade in a first-grade maths test than you.”

(This is the moment I realised I’d f***** up. I began to move away from him, knowing that when he understood what I said, he would be furious. After a couple of seconds, he realised what I meant and tried to hit me, and I began to run away from him. Thankfully he never caught up with me and got tired before I did. I learnt two things that day. The most important was to keep my mouth shut. The second was that although I couldn’t run very fast, I had nice stamina and could run a little longer than most of my classmates.)

Dramas In Pajamas: The New Craze Sweeping Through Pre-School

, , , | Learning | November 16, 2018

(I teach young kids how to swim. After the last group, I change into my clothes and wait in the hall for my ride. I spot a few kids from my group and overhear them.)

Kid #1: “Are you wearing your pajamas?!”

Kid #2: “Yes.”

Kid #1: “What are you, a baby?”

(Mind you, the kid is about six years old. The other kids start laughing. Having been bullied most of my youth, I can’t stand this behavior, but I also have a responsibility as a teacher to not just scream what I want to scream. I take a gamble.)

Me: “Well, I think it’s efficient!”

Kid #3: “What’s efficient?”

Me: “Well, [Kid #2] is very smart. By changing into her pajamas here, she doesn’t have to change at home. She saves a lot of time.”

Kid #1: “So?”

Me: “The time she saves by undressing and dressing again, she can now spend hanging out with her parents or watching TV. This way, she can stay up a little bit longer!”

(The group fell silent, and their parents picked them up. I wondered if my words had even helped. The next week, three more children were wearing pajamas after the lesson, and [Kid #1] screamed at his mother he wanted to wear his pajamas, too. Guess I set a trend?)

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