Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Aint Nobody Be Likin' It

Have I shared this story before?  I was teaching 7th graders and I had one kid who was a bit of a donkey.  He gave everyone - teachers and students both - a hard time.  I had the pleasure of having him in class during the last period of the day.  One afternoon this kid must have taken an extra dose of obnoxious vitamins because he thought it'd be funny to take a spray bottle I had on the chalkboard ledge, and spray me in the face with it.

One thing led to another and he was sent to the principal's office.  This happened at the end of the class period so after I dismissed the rest of the kids, I walked downstairs, fists clenched, to the office.  To say I was mad is an understatement.  This kid had been driving me crazy for months and this incident was the last straw.  So when I walked into the office and saw my administrator (who knew what had happened) I said in what might've been an overly loud voice, "HE IS GOING DOWN!"  (Who am I kidding? I sounded like I was an announcer at SMACKDOWN.)

And then I turned a corner and saw him.  He was curled up in a seat sobbing.  This monster of a kid who literally terrorized classrooms was crying so hard I barely recognized him.  He wasn't crying because he heard what I'd said (although, that couldn't have helped), and I'm sure it wasn't because he felt terrible about spraying me in the face with a water bottle.  He was probably crying because he knew he was about to get punished and it probably would be severe. 

All I wanted to do at that point was sit down next to him and tell him it would be OK.  That he didn't have to be scared.  I couldn't remember why I was so angry, and actually, I felt foolish for being so angry in the first place.

Hadley and Harper were invited to a birthday party on Saturday.  There was swimming.

"Oh heyyyyyyy guys!  I'm in here too!"

Big shots -

There was pizza.

There was an Ariel cake.

"Where'd everybody go?  Y'all don't want any more cake?"

There was a pinata!

"What do you mean I have to give this bat to her?  I don't care who's birthday party this is."
"That's cool.  I'll just stand here."
"Not gonna move."

"I'm having a hard time understanding the taking turns aspect of this game."


"Hold up, girls!  Let me get in on this!"
"That's what I'm talking about."
And then there was this perfect shot of summer:
Does it get any better then letting the sun dry out your bathing suit while you swing and eat a lollipop?
Well, it's nice to have your sister share in on the joys of summer, too.

And then. 

It was time to go home and Hadley and Harper decided they were having none of that business.  Harper screamed SCAAAREEEEEMED  bloody murder letting the greater DC area know there is nothing wrong with her vocal chords.  And Hadley?  Hadley argued her way out of the pool as I dragged her out.  She clawed, pinched, and screamed at me while I dried her off, and while I turned to put the towel away, she jumped back into the pool.

Oh yes she did.

The girls screamed all the way through the parking lot while Jesse and I tried to collaborate on discipline.

Jesse: OK, I told Hadley no TV and no treats tomorrow and you told her no TV for a week, plus no chocolate milk.

Me: I canNOT believe she jumped back into the pool after I dried her off.  What have I done wrong that prompted this kind of behavior?  I NEVER acted like this....especially at 4.

Jesse: I think we need to focus on what we're going to do about it.

They didn't seem to care that they weren't going to watch TV or get any treats, but we did find something that proved to be a worthy punishment.

We told them we were throwing away their party favors.

When I told Hadley we were going to throw them away her screaming turned to sobbing.  Hadley rarely cries, and when she does it's the saddest cry you ever heard.  Through tears she asked, "Can I look at the party favors before you throw them away?"

And that's when I rememberd my student crying in the principal's office.  It just didn't seem to matter what she did.  She was so sad and I am her mother and now I've made her miserable. 

I wish we could do it over.  I wish I could find the perfect thing to say so that the girls won't scream and yell and treat me like Voldemort when I say that it's time to go.  I wish I could've managed the classroom better or been a better teacher so that I never had discipline problems. 

I took a "Writing for Children" class taught by Erica Perl a few years ago.  We wrote stories and shared them with the group.  I wrote a story with the student I'm writing about in this post as one of the main characters.  I called him Steven in my piece, and he was wild and obnoxious and funny. I shared my first draft with my classmates and then did some revisions.  I took Steven out, and after sharing the second draft everyone said, "Where's Steven?  Why'd you take him out?  We loved him!"

I have a hard time with discipline.  The hardest part is that I see that Hadley and Harper and the boy I'm calling Steven aren't who they are so much more than their actions in these instances.  I hate treating them based on their actions but I guess sometimes I have to do it.   That doesn't mean I love or admire them any less.

It also doesn't mean that these things don't make for great stories, and maybe they're a teeny bit funny a few days (years?) later.


Jenny said...

I hate to admit it but I probably would have said the same thing about the kid in your class.

I am starting to realize to, stop before I over react because I have done it before and it just makes it worse.

On another note, what a fun party it looks like they were at.

Kathy said...

This is whe we mom's make the Big Bucks!!! First, let me say that in my 12 years of being a mom to 3 kids (12,9,6) Birthday parties and any kind of an all day fun outing (especially with cake and candy) is Prime Time for a melt down. I find preperation is everything. Also, if I know one of mine has a hard time leaving fun events (and who doesn't) I tell a story and make a plan for a fun activity after the party (after the party we will go home and make cookies, watch a movie, play in the yard, any activity) So, I might say, Princess Hadley goes to the party and has so much fun swimming and playing. She takes her turn and gets to hit the pinata, we get candy and then Princess Hadley goes home. The queen and the princess go home and read a story and draw a picture about the party. Just a suggestion, but I have found these preperations help. Also, the book Between Parent and Child, has been my lifesaver! Of course I have made mistakes but that's the fun of it, right!!!

Ali said...

the captions to your pictures cracked me up.

discipline sucks. that's all there is to it. but, good for you for following through.

Sonja said...

Our oldest acted up whenever it was time to leave anywhere when he was 3. It was embarrassing since we had just moved to a new community and we were meeting new people. When you described getting her out of the pool, you brought me right back to those days. Hang in there. It was a really rough time for me so you have my sympathy.

Mrs. No-No said...

I know EXACTLY what you are going through - lol - my 4yo has the same reaction some times. But, you just have to follow through, be consistent, and be the momma that your little ones know that you are - even when that means being the "tough guy"...all over-reacting aside, if possible! ...I know, I know...easier said than done!!!
Have a great week!
Visiting from VB! :)
Carla at Mrs. No-No Knows

Mel~ @ said...

Thank you for sharing your story as a teacher, and for realizing the sensitivities of the boy. I'm sure you handled the discipline with him effectively and appropriately, but YEAH, I would have been M-A-D too!

I was quite confused at the abrupt end to the story and the introjection of the bright happy birthday party photos (but they are beautiful that's for sure!) maybe add a transition between the two for us readers?

I'm glad to have found you via voiceBoks, I like your writing! As a former teacher and now SAHM...

Have a great week! :)


Mommy LaDy Club said...

Disciplining is always the toughest, but you have to remember that you are doing it because you care for that person. Kids do eventually get that, and if you can somehow keep relaying that to them, they will hear it.
Cheers from Voiceboks,

Spilled Milkshake said...

Losing it over our kids (whether it's ours or students) is never desirable and I always feel bad about it afterwords. Even though the behavior is awful, a lot of the time I overreact.

Kathy has some great ideas about preparing to prevent the meltdowns. I'm taking notes!

Great pictures by the way!

Visiting from voiceBoks Members to Remember!


Ang said...

The tricky thing about child rearing (well, one of the many tricky things!) is the balance between discipline and love. You really can't and shouldn't have one without the other. Although it's hard to see our children cry when they have to be disciplined, it's good for them, and they will learn, and we usually don't have to discipline them as harshly the next time. Tough love is what it takes sometimes to be a parent!

SortaSuperMom said...

My dad is a teacher and he tells me stories like that ALL the time. My hat is off to you for being able to do what you do.

I found you off VB and I just wanted you to know that I nominated you for an award. You can check it out @

Also, I wanted to highlight you and your blog in a future post for a section I do on mine called 'Saturday Shout-outs'. Each week I highlight a great writer- like yourself. My hope is that it will not only bring more readership to both of our blogs, but that we can learn a little more about each other.

If you're interested, please email me at asoto0703 at

Talk to you soon!

~Amber 'SortaSuperMom' @

Tara Shuple said...

Oh they are funny stories...I was laughing loudly when I pictured poor Hadley asking " can I see the party favors before you throw them away??" a few years after this stuff has happened many many times, you won't feel so bad, because, they start to learn it doesn't mean you love them less and often times, they even know you were right:)