Amon is always difficult.
When I first took over this class, the substitute had warned me:
“Amon is a dangerous SNAKE!”
I was shocked and dismayed to hear a teacher talk about her students that way. I was naïve enough, then, to reject the notion that any 10-year-old can act like a dangerous snake.
Amon IS always difficult–no snake–but today, something is really, really off. He has never been as out-of-control before. He actually squares off against me, planting his pint-sized body in front of me and raising his tiny fists.
(This same boy had punched my Assistant, Rose, quite hard in her arm a week earlier. The Office’s response? Nothing. Whatsoever. Remember, this is the District with a mandatory three-day suspension when a student issues a threat–but acts go unpunished.)
This time, I do convince Amon to make the wise choice of not throwing a punch MY way:
“Take a minute to think about it, Amon. Calm down, and think really hard, because there is no way I’m going to let a 10-year old kid punch me and get away with it. And I won’t be worrying about school rules, or my job, or anything else.”
(You’d best believe I’m brave and bold when facing down an opponent 1/4 my size and weight!)
After a moment of think time, two skinny matchstick arms are lowered. After which, I call this miniscule boy outside our classroom door for a private conference.
“Amon—what’s going on today? Is something wrong?”
To my shock, this very macho gang member begins to cry. And cry, and cry, and cry, and then cry some more.
I let my assistant know what’s going on, and give her some assignments for the class while I wait to hear what Amon’s problem is. (This is difficult, because I must still monitor the class behavior through the open door, and this is one very active and trouble-prone Special Ed class.)
Amon is finally able to begin speaking:
“I think I did something wrong. Really wrong.”
I learn what happened, between choking sobs:
The day before, Amon was visiting his 8-year-old female cousin. The two children had been left together unsupervised the entire day. (No surprise, that.) During the afternoon, Amon had tried forcing his cousin into sex with him: Pulled off her pants, lay on top of her, and attempted penetration.
Tears and snot are running down his face this entire time while I pass tissues. I am pulling every hormone-choking trick of my own not to sob along with him.
Amon is feeling scared and ashamed. He always presents a tough guy front, but Amon knows that his actions went too far this time. He feels a healthy familial affection for his cousin, and is frightened and confused by what happened.
“Amon–Would you like to talk to someone about this? The school psychologist?” I ask, hardly daring to hope he’ll agree.
“Yes.” he answers almost immediately. This is one worried and guilty little boy.
I write up the gist of what Amon told me and give this to The Office. I fill out paperwork to inform Social Services of this reported sexual incident.
Have you already guessed that Amon is one of the three boys who have been continually humping the classroom furniture?
Perhaps someone from The Office should have intervened earlier.
SURPRISINGLY-GOOD OUTCOME ADDENDUM
From then on, Amon’s family–mother and aunts–was forced by social services to supervise its children all the time they were together–a rare time I saw Social Services do some good, and immediately. (His mother was furious at me.) Amon’s behavior improved slightly at school–either as a result of the talks with the psychologist, or as a result of the increased parental supervision.
HORRIBLY-PREACHY UP-WITH-CENSORSHIP ADDENDUM
I am wondering what movies Amon’s parents watched while he was around. I’m betting they weren’t all Disney flicks.
You SHOULD censor everything your children watch and read. Censorship is GOOD for children.
You are not denying them freedom they should have. You are GIVING them freedom:
A chance to thrive with age-appropriate behaviors, a healthy respect for adults, and a lack of unnecessary fear.
Why on earth do you parents think it’s okay to watch the evening news with your single-digit-aged children?
All they grow up with are disasters happening on every front. There was a good reason Mr. Rogers advised against allowing young children to watch the evening news during the Persian Gulf (Kuwait Invasion) War.
Why on earth do you parents think it’s okay for children under the age of 10 to watch “The Simpsons”?
Younger kids have no idea that Bart’s disrespect for everyone is supposed to be unrealistic.
They know it’s supposed to be funny, and they know he gets away with it.
What is THAT teaching them before they hit the classroom?
Our own little sons loved the Calvin and Hobbes comics.
Similar to Bart, Calvin is highly scornful of the adult world.
I love those comics, and I loved that my children loved them.
However, when I found my little five- and six-year-old boys imitating Calvin’s manner with the two of us, I accidentally “lost” all of their Calvin books until they were older. Oops. Gosh, boys, Mommy is SO sorry!
Don’t get me started on computer games and the internet.
You parents have a responsibility to control everything that goes into your children.
Children are little sponges.
And part of everything that goes into them STICKS.
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