Maybe I should have foreseen it, but…I didn’t.

Yesterday in Indiana was one of those really nice fall days. You know. Sunny. Sort of crisp in the morning, but it warmed up. When I walked into school, I was thinking and actually did tell one person that I loved my job. I do love my job. Mostly. But there are those times…and third period yesterday was one of them.

I used to teach junior high, so you would think I would be familiar with the ins and outs of the behavior of freshmen. I am, actually. It’s just that I keep thinking that they should, I don’t know? Mature? Act respectful?

Every class has a personality of its own, and the class of freshmen in which I work third period is a rather rowdy one. The teacher just came up from the middle school so, God bless her, this is the third year she has had some of these kids. One day when I was watching two of the boys act up, she came up to me and said that they were actually better behaved than they had been in middle school. I can’t tell you how thankful I am that I didn’t know them then!

So. Yesterday, she asked me to watch the class while she went to the restroom. I readily agreed. I am a little over six feet tall and older (sigh). Most of the time, kids don’t mess with me. But yesterday…

This girl came up from the other side of the room. She was almost as tall as I am, and she looked me in the eye as she said, “I have to pee.”

Now, I know there are some parents out there who think that their kids, even their high school kids, should be allowed to go to the restroom whenever the mood strikes them. And truth be told, I am always inclined to let girls go because some of them in high school are still not real good at managing that girl thing that strikes once a month.

But in this case, I did not think it was a coincidence that the girl had waited until the teacher left before asking. So I said, “Wait until your teacher gets back.”

“I can’t,” she said. “I really have to go, and if you don’t let me, I’ll pee on your floor.”

Wouldn’t you think that would be embarrassing? I used to think that, but after an experience with a junior high boy who threatened and then DID wet his pants, I have decided that the level of embarrassment depends on who you are. This conversation was not about a bodily function. It was about who was in charge.

I said, “That sounds like a personal problem. Your teacher will be right back.”

I was sort of looking for the teacher myself by then.

The girl went over and stood outside the door. It just so happened that I was by the door because I was helping another student. I said, “You can wait inside the door.”

She put one foot in.

Junior high and high school personnel learn pretty quickly that you do NOT block the door. If a kid leaves even though they do not have permission, you call the office. Blocking the door can get you hurt.

The girl said, “What’ll happen to me if I just go?”

“Well,” I said, “you will get written up. But you do what you have to do.”

So she left.

Of course, all this got the rest of the class fired up. Especially the boys I was talking about earlier. After the girl came back, THREE boys came toward me, strutting as only high school boys can. “We have to go to the bathroom,” they said.

Like I said, this was about power. Not restroom issues.

Another thing it pays to know when you work in a school is that generally, each room has an office call button. Most teachers I know refer to it as a panic button. Said call button is generally located near the classroom door. I just happened to be by the door.

I walked over to the call button and held my finger over it.

“Go ahead,” I said.

The boys sat down.

It was at that point that the teacher returned. She had seen the last confrontation and was quick to assure me that the problem was with the class. Not with me. Which I knew. She read them the riot act and then wrote up the individuals involved. Which was fine with me.

Until I saw another aid later in the day.

“Hey, Mrs. C., ” he said, “I hear you were blockading the door.”

Grrrrr. Why do kids always put that kind of spin on a story? Like I said, I’m not stupid. I am middle-aged now. If a kid ran over me to get out the door, something might break.

Needless to say, I was not looking forward to third period today. A lot of the kids were absent, though, and the ones that were there were relatively calm.

So once again, I love my job. And that is despite the fact that I just had to have an X-ray because one of my students, who WAS actually working, hopped off of a desk and onto my foot. High school boys are NOT small. Fortunately, the diagnosis was a contusion with muscle strain. Nothing is broken. (Whew!!)

I just wanted to set the record straight. And maybe to remind you to pray for the people who work with kids.

We ALL need it!


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September 2006
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