classroom vignette

Once I heard the comment that his stomach hurt.  It was anther day with them and as usual he was there.  He was busy as ever; running around, bugging other kids, yelling, you name it.  The dark brown eyes, thinking, scheming, in control.  My job is to keep him contained.  I can’t control him.  I can give him options.  But I can’t make him do anything.

He keeps my attention.  His name numerously and readily leaves my lips.  I am alert.  Busy.  Challenged.

It happened in art.  I could tell he didn’t want to co-operate from the get-go.  He wasn’t listening.  He was grabbing, complaining, yelling, taking things.  I warned him once.  I warned him twice.  I came around and warned him again and asked him to move away from the others.  He works best alone.


“Please move down.”


“I asked you nicely to please move down.”

“But then he’ll pick on me.”

“No he won’t.  He’s working quietly.  You have one minute to move.”

Reluctantly he moves.

I’m not sure what exactly it was that set him off again.  Knowing him, it could have been any small thing.  But this was the end of my warnings.  I asked him to come with me.  We are going to the principle.


“I’m sorry, but you done lost your chances right now and you & me need to leave.  Right now.”

He puts his head down on his desk and his big brown eyes turn red with tears.  Oh, boy, I thought.  Why is this tough as nails kid crying after bullying those around him?  After many feeble, weak attempts and what felt like nagging to me, he finally makes up his mind to come with me.

He drags his shoulder up against the hall as we walk and almost stops.

“What’s the matter?”  I ask.

“My stomach hurts.”


“My grandpa made me eat soap last night.”

Why did you have to eat soap, I ask?

“For saying bad words,” he answers.

At that point my heart sank.  Poor boy!  Eat soap?  Who makes their kids actually eat soap?  Washing it out is one thing to teach a lesson – but to actually swallow it!

Now it made sense.  His anger and acting out in the room was in response to last night.  His grandpa must be angry and in turn he’s making his grandson angry.

I told him there are people in this world we may not like.  There are people I don’t even like.  But we have to get along with them.  We just do.  We don’t have to like them but was have to co-operate and get along somehow.

I said, I’m sorry about what happened last night with your grandfather.  But part of growing up is learning that there are consequences for our behavior.  The sooner you learn to get along and share and be polite the better off you’ll be.
I could tell he felt better having been listened too and sympathized with.  Poor, conflicted child.

Later, when he came back into the room he apolized to me.

“For what?” I asked.

“For being disrespectful.”

“Apology accepted.  Thank you.  Now please sit down.”

This time, his heart was soft .


(Pic complements of Picasa web albums)

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