The Opposite Of Closeted Behavior

| Learning | December 8, 2014

(I have Asperger’s Syndrome, a high functioning form of autism. When I was growing up, it wasn’t readily understood by most experts at the time and rarely diagnosed properly. My erratic behavior and extremely strong will got to the point that my teachers would quite literally stick me in a closet in the school office for the day, allowing me out only to use the bathroom and grab my lunch. Of course, my mother was absolutely beside herself with fury for how I was being treated, but she wasn’t the only one. A woman came in one day just as I was being put back in the closet after using the bathroom. She noticed the secretary about to shut the door on me.)

Woman: “Hey, wait, she’s still in there.”

Secretary: “Oh, no, she’s supposed to be in there.”

Woman: “Huh…?”

Secretary: “She’s a bit out of control so this is a way to keep classes going smoothly.”

Woman: “So you… lock her in the closet?! How is THAT beneficial?”

Secretary: “It keeps her calm and out of trouble.”

Woman: *becoming irate* “Have you tried counseling?!”

Secretary: “They can’t handle—”

Woman: “No, no, no, no. You do NOT stick a child in a CLOSET just to spare yourselves the trouble of dealing with her! That is ridiculous!”

Secretary: “Ma’am, I don’t believe it’s any of your concern.”

Woman: “The h*** it isn’t! I’m a parent with my children at this school and here I find that you’re locking problem children in closets so you don’t have to deal with them?! So, what, if my children act up, will they be joining this poor kid?! Are you completely nuts?!”

Secretary: “Ma’am, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”

Woman: “Oh, you bet I will, and you can bet my kids are going with me! The district attorney is going to hear about this!”

(She stormed out and I was pushed into the closet, and the door shut behind me. She came back a while later with three kids in tow, all with their backpacks on and looking very confused. She was shouting at the principal who looked extremely uncomfortable while she continued to point angrily toward my closet where I could see out the little door window. She slammed some papers down on the counter, threw me a sympathetic and enraged look, and dragged her kids out of the office. I would find out years later from my mom that not only did she tell a good two dozen other parents about me, but she succeeded in convincing them to pull their students out of that school. She also alerted the school district’s attorney about what was going on with me. However, because nothing could be or was ever done to try to correct and counsel my behavior, I was kept in the closet space until I graduated from that school a year later. I’m older now and understand that bullying is done by students and teachers alike and that more often than not, mental conditions like mine aren’t given the proper care and attention they need, resulting in traumatic experiences for children. My bright spot in that memory was my mother who called every day to scathingly tear the principal apart about my treatment, and the woman who managed to make a small statement in the name of my treatment. To that woman, if you’re reading this, thank you. It made no sense then, but it does now and it means a lot.)

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| Learning | December 5, 2014

(I’m a student teacher in a prep class. During morning play, a few of the children have picked up shells we’ve left out for discovery and held them to their ears.)

Child #1: “I can hear the ocean!”

Child #2: “I can hear a bathtub!”

Child #3: “It sounds like a toilet flushing!”

(The mentor teacher – who was walking past at the time – and I burst out laughing. I had to excuse myself as I was laughing so hard. Then just as I come back into the room…)

Child #2: “It sounds like a monster’s breathing!”

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D For Detention

| Learning | November 13, 2014

(I am in year four – equivalent to the third grade. We are having our first sex ed lesson.)

Teacher: “Okay, who can tell me what the name for this part is?”

Classmate #1: “Oh! Oh! I know, Miss!”

Teacher: “Yes, [Classmate #1]?”

Classmate #1: “It’s the d***!”

Teacher: “…no. That’s not the right name.”

Classmate #1: “But that’s what my Mum says to my Dad.”

Teacher: “Sorry, it’s still not the right answer. It’s actually not a very nice word, and you shouldn’t use it with people.”

Classmate #1: “Why, Miss?”

Teacher: “Because it’s a swear word, and we don’t use those.”

(There is silence for a few seconds, as the class contemplates this.)

Classmate #2: “Haha, d***.”

Classmate #3: “D***!”

Entire Class: “D***! D***! D***!”

(Every single one of us was forced to stay for an hour after school.)

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It’s Hard In Any Direction

| Learning | November 13, 2014

(I’m working on social studies vocabulary with a group of students.)

Me: “North, south, east, and west are the…”

Student: “Carnal erections!”

Me: “Okay…” *writes out the words* “CARDinal DIRections. Please, make sure you say all the letters in the words.”

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On The Chopping Block Over Chopsticks

| Learning | November 10, 2014

(When I was in grade five, I was obsessed with learning as much as possible about all of Asia. One day, to surprise me, my mom decides to pack my lunch, and, when I open it, I find sushi, spring rolls, mango salad, dumplings, and a thermos of green tea, and, even better, my mom has packed in a pair of chopsticks. The only problem is, because the packaging is so big I need to bring two bags, but I don’t care. So, it’s lunchtime. I’m unpacking my food and I’m about to eat when a teacher, who I’m convinced has an issue with me, comes over.)

Teacher: “And what do we have here?”

Me: “It’s a special lunch.”

Teacher: “Well, I don’t see why you need two lunch bags. Pick one, and the other one can go into your backpack.”

Me: “But… I have food in both of them…”

Teacher: “Choose!”

(After hesitation, I unload one bag, put it in my bag, and get back to my meal. I pull out my chopsticks and I’m about to start eating, when the teacher comes running over.)

Teacher: “Excuse me!”

Me: “Yes, ma’am?”

Teacher: “This isn’t China! Here in Canada you eat with a fork!”

Me: “But… I didn’t bring a fork.”

Teacher: “Don’t lie! Now, I’m going to do another round, and when I come back, you’d better put those away and have a fork, otherwise you’ll be in big trouble.”

(She leaves and I start crying.)

Me: “I’m going to be in so much trouble!”

Friend: “It’s going to be okay. Eating with chopsticks isn’t illegal. There isn’t even a rule!”

(I nod, and go back to eating. Five minutes later, the teacher comes back.)

Teacher: “[My Name]! Office! I told you to use a fork!”

Me: “But I don’t have a for—”

Teacher: “Office! Pack up your lunch and go to the office!”

(Crying uncontrollably, I pack up and head to the office, and the teacher comes with me. When the principal comes out, she looks at me confused.)

Principal: “[Teacher], is there a problem?”

Teacher: “Yes! [My Name] has been very disrespectful to me!”

Principal: “How so?”

Teacher: “She refused to listen to me!”

Me: *crying again* “I was just eating my lunch.”

Teacher: “Tell her the whole story!”

Me: “Well, I didn’t know you had a rule about eating with chopsticks. Or about bringing more than one lunch bag. If I knew that, I would have brought a fork instead of these.” *pulls out chopsticks to show her*

Principal: “Oh, what beautiful chopsticks! I’ve never seen anything like them, especially the yin and the yang on each one! [Teacher], we don’t have a rule about chopsticks!”

Teacher: *going red* “You don’t?”

Principal: “No, we don’t. Nor do we have a limit on how many lunch bags someone can bring. Now, [My Name], you can—”

(Bell rings.)

Teacher: “Well, bye!” *runs out*

Principal: “You can finish your lunch before you go to class. I’ll give you permission.”

(Not long after that, the teacher was fired. My friends and I joke that it was because she struck a student for bringing in a durian.)

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