Monday, June 18, 2012

 By now most of you have heard about this...
 Kindergarten Teacher in Trouble for Ordering Students to Hit ...
I have sort of mixed feelings on this issue.
For one, I have worked in a school.
It can be a very frustrating place.

But there is another reason that I am feeling unsure of this one.
Long ago when I was a child in the 6th grade,
I had a similar experience.
My teacher sat me between the Dillinger brothers;
Bobby and Richard.
Bobby was handsome and I thought he was wonderful.
Richard, his twin was not handsome.
He was an awful brat that bugged everyone.

If he wasn't pulling my hair,
he was knocking the heels of my shoes off...
or poking me with a pencil...
or heaven help me...
blowing on the back of my neck...
or any number of other annoying activities.

He drove me crazy.
My teacher did not fail to notice this.
All day long she would tell Richard to leave me alone.
She made him stand in the hall.
She made him stay in at recess.
She made him write on the chalk board
"I will not..."
Nothing seemed to work.

It was her habit to read to us after lunch and recess.
We could put our heads down on the desk and listen...
or nap if we wished.
It was a quiet time designed to calm us back down after being wound up.
I loved to listen.
I loved the books she read...
"The Black Stallion" series.

One day as she read, Richard began to play with the collar of my shirt...
like he was going to pull down my zipper...
and tug at my hair.
I tried to ignore him for as long as possible.
"Stop it Richard!"
I hissed over my shoulder.
He blew on my neck.

"Rebecca!  I want you to stand up right this minute."
the teacher snapped.
I thought that I was in trouble for talking...
which was not at all unusual.
But when I stood up, she instructed me to turn around and KICK
 Richard as hard as I could in the shin.

I hesitated.
Kicking was not generally allowed.
I gave him a tentative bump on the leg.
she ordered.
This went on for about three more times...
until Richard said "Ow!"
"You may sit down now Rebecca. Thank you."
I sat and she picked up her place in the book 
and read uninterrupted until the end of the chapter.

The class had loved the display.
They began to giggle with the first kick 
and howled with laughter when Richard said
I could hear kids talking about it when the bell rang
as we all left for home that day.
Even my dad laughed when I told the family about it at diner.

Did Richard stop bugging me in class?
Bobby told me that his dad had been mad enough about it to give Richard a 
switching for being a pest in class.

Its been an amusing story that I enjoy telling over the years.
Was that child abuse?
Was Richard damaged by the experience?
Last I heard he was doing fine.
Was I affected?
In a funny way I was.
I was both startled and pleased that it had happened.
I had wanted to do something like that to Richard for a long, long time.
But there was no lesson about being empowered in it for me.
Just amusement.

After 6th grade ended...
the Dillinger brothers and I parted company to attend
different schools.
I have no idea if Richard learned to stop picking on everyone.
All I know is that the last couple of months of that school year,
were blissfully pest free.

So did this teacher step over the line?
Of course there is a big difference between
6th grade and kindergarten.
And there is something particularly shameful
about bein g slapped in the face.
I would like to think that I would never do that myself...
but I did kick Richard and enjoyed doing it.


  1. I think in this day and age any teacher would know just isn't done now, anything physical, ever.
    Surely now an annoyer like Richard would be seated apart from the group. Who knows? Maybe that is more damaging in the long run?

  2. i guess the other solution might be to medicate the little bugger.

    when shane was a kid he got bullied quite a bit so i turned him into a ninja and he was soon showing the bullies where the bear shit in the bucket.

  3. Shame on Richard for buggin' you. I don't understand why people want to do things like that...unless he just didn't get any attention at all...positive or negative, and he figured that negative attention was better than no attention at all.

  4. laura b.- You are right about that... no physical contact. Even giving a kid a hug is suspect these days. Richard was set off by himself fairly often. My teacher was a sub that we had for all but the first two weeks of school. I have wondered if she did it because she was sick of having to deal with him and knew that she was not coming back to work there anyway.

    billy pilgrim- Sometimes making our kids into ninjas is the only solution that works.
    The school's hands are tied. That paddle my principal kept in his office is banned. Its not much of a punishment for mean behavior if jr goes home for 3 days and is allowed to play his video games, eat junk food, watch TV and do as he pleases. Parents don't always back up the school. I've seen parents that are proud that their kids bully.
    I really dislike the idea of medication unless its the only solution. But I've seen parents block that idea too.

    Times have changed. We had bullies when I was growing up. But when someone fought back, it was thought of as "boys being boys". Now its assault.

  5. When I was in 2nd grade my teacher told me I should give a pinch to this girl who was a bit of a bully. I didn't, and I'm pretty sure that my teacher told me to do this because she knew that I wasn't going to take her advice. I never actually thought of this incident at all since just now. So odd the things you remember.

  6. Jackie- Richard and Bobby were twins and with Bobby so handsome, I think Rickard was left in his shadow. And always being in trouble doesn't improve one's popularity. I think he may have had a crush on me. I met him many years later and now I have to laugh about it... he worked for a school district. Ha! I guess he grew up. =:]

    silverthougts2- Weird isn't it? I guess maybe it was one of those things people used to do, like mothers who bite babies that bite other kids... which of course is not ok with the powers that be now days.

  7. Back in the day I got into plenty of fights and never once was sent to the principal's office. It was a much different time. I'd never get away with it now.

  8. I don't think your teacher handled that the right way. She should have intervened but not commanded violence. And I think teachers ought to be fired for make one child strike another. It's wrong to teach aggression.