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Gotta Admit, The Kid’s Done His Homework

, , , , | Learning | June 13, 2022

Back when I was in high school, there was one kid who sat next to me in homeroom and always had his nose in a book. One of his peculiarities was that he refused to stand to say the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of school; he would just continue reading through it. All of us had long since gotten used to this.

One day, we had a substitute filling in who was not used to this and clearly didn’t approve.

Substitute: “Stand up.”

Student: “No, thank you.”

Substitute: “You need to—”

It was at about this time that we finished the Pledge. The substitute sort of trailed off as he apparently realized ordering someone to say the Pledge now that the Pledge was already over was kind of pointless. He waited until the rest of the announcements were over before returning to ask the student why he didn’t say the Pledge.

Me: “He never says the Pledge.”

Substitute: “Why not?”

Student: “I don’t approve of it, it’s a waste of time, and I’d rather read my book.”

Substitute: “It’s not a waste of time. It’s how you show your patriotism.”

Student: “I like our country, but I’m not swearing blind obedience to it. If tomorrow, Hitler Jr. becomes president and starts rounding people up, I’d have no qualms about saying it no longer deserved my support.”

Substitute: “That isn’t what the Pledge says!’

Student: “Regardless, it’s a waste of time with an uncomfortable association with McCarthyism. It’s not like anyone was going to betray America but decided not to because they suddenly remembered they were forced to say some rote pledge in elementary school. And I don’t care what the courts say; forcing someone to say, ‘under God,’ is a clear violation of the first amendment.”

Substitute: “Well, you can explain that all to the principal, then.”

Student: “I’d be happy to, but if that was a threat of punishment, I should point out that the Supreme Court has already ruled that I have the first amendment right to not say the Pledge. Are you going to show your patriotism by trying to violate the most sacred tenet afforded to me by the country you claim to love?”

The substitute seemed taken aback by that. He was saved from trying to figure out a response to that by the bell signaling that it was time to head to our first period.

We never saw that substitute again, which is a shame. Apparently, the student had been rehearsing his own parody pledge to the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which he planned to say if that substitute, or anyone else, tried to compel him to take part in the Pledge of Allegiance again. I’d really have loved to see that.

And Now It’s Stuck In Our Heads Again. Great.

, , , , , , , | Learning | May 1, 2022

I work as a behavior interventionist. Basically, I observe certain students’ behaviors and come up with ideas to help them be successful in school. I then implement the plans (once approved) and collect data so the school can track progress. I love my job, and seeing the progress students make is incredible. It also happens to be shortly after the song “What Does The Fox Say?” has gone viral.

The student I’m working with now has unintentionally deceptive body language. The same body language could be signs of a bunch of different things, and it’s my job to figure it out.

The science teacher rented a bunch of animal pelts and the students have the option to touch/examine them. They can choose not to, though. The student I’m focusing on might be fine, might be shutting down, might be stressed about the dead animals, might be about to blow, or might just want to draw. This kid is an enigma.

A wonderful child notices their body language, and instead of drawing attention to them and asking, “Are you okay?”, they begin petting the fox pelt and say, in the same way as the song:

Wonderful Child: “What does the fox say?”

Then, the kid drops their happy attitude.

Wonderful Child: “Nothing, the fox is dead.” 

My kid BURST out laughing, and I knew all was well.

That strategy of making a joke to test a student’s mental state is a tool I use now. I have to be careful, of course, about the time, place, and person, but it works! 

Thanks, random kid!

Pure Blind Ignorance

, , , , | Right | November 19, 2021

My nephew and daughter are about eight. My nephew became completely blind a few years ago due to complications from an infection. My daughter has a lazy eye and some other vision issues and wears very big glasses.

I’ve taken my nephew and daughter out to a restaurant. They are genuinely good friends. My nephew is wearing sunglasses indoors and has his red and white cane leaned up against his chair, both obvious signs of him being blind. Some old man walks over and starts complaining to us. Assuming that my nephew is my son, he says:

Old Man: “It’s obvious that there is genetic blindness in your family! You’re being irresponsible by having more than one child! You’ve caused great suffering by bringing into the world two children who both will eventually go blind!”

As he was ranting, a very burly waiter tapped the man on the shoulder and asked him to leave, politely but coolly, and the scrawny old man decided it was probably best not to cross him.

For all of our troubles, the waiter had the owner give us free ice cream, which was very nice because it wasn’t the restaurant’s fault at all, and the restaurant has easily become a household favorite.

Doesn’t Sea What You Mean

, , , , , | Right | August 17, 2021

I work at a high-end chain hotel. I had a platinum guest who insisted that I give her the ocean view she had requested. I accidentally blurted out:

Me: “Ocean view?”

Then, I realized she meant water view. The next morning, she came to my desk to complain.

Guest: “You didn’t give me an ocean view, and then when you gave me one, the ocean was so small!”

Considering that we were in Burlington, Vermont, I felt that a room with a view of Lake Champlain was much closer than the 300 miles to the closest ocean!

Trouble Comes In Many Forms

, , , , , , , | Learning | April 19, 2021

When I was a teenager, I went to a boarding school for “troubled teen girls” for a short period of time. I was physically ill after finally being diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, and my missing school was leading my grades to drop to the point where I was on the verge of being kicked out, so they enrolled me for a few trimesters as a way for me to catch up. A lot of the girls were suffering from severe behavioral issues and returning from wilderness camps, so it was a pretty intense group of kids.

Most Internet use was forbidden except in connection with schoolwork, and all of our computers in the computer lab faced inward so the teacher who was running the computer lab could see our screens. There were also very strict blocks that blocked almost everything except for educational websites. They’d never had any issues, until me.

I was annoyed at these restrictions and wanted to talk to my friends via email and post on forums. It was nothing malicious at all; besides my health issues, I was a pretty good kid. Unfortunately for the school, I was the first student that happened to know about using proxy servers to get around these restrictions.

I was constantly alt+tabbing, using tiny windows, and being on the lookout for when the lab monitor looked my way. This went on for months before a couple of students found out and asked me about it. I kept my mouth shut because I didn’t want to cause trouble, and I knew that everyone suddenly having access would be impossible to hide. Of course, that meant that they went and told the principal about it.

They had no idea how I managed to do it. Even the so-called IT people for the school had no explanation! Frustrated, the principal forbade me from entering the computer lab again until I told them how I managed to get around the restrictions.

Unfortunately for them, I was leaving the school soon after anyway, so it didn’t make a difference. Amusingly, they wound up calling my parents because of the “trouble” I was making and complained that I was being uncooperative.

I don’t remember if anyone else managed to figure out what I was doing, and years later, my mom admitted that she was so proud to find out that the “trouble” I was making was being the first person to outsmart the school just so I could check my email and post on some gaming forums.