A Little Boy’s Too-Big Confession


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.
 

Boy With Snake On Head

If You Also Cannot Tell Boy From Snake, Boy Is One On Bottom


 
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!)
 

Little Angry Hispanic-Perhaps-Latino Boy

WAY Too Impressive Here. Imagine Him Through the Wrong End of Binoculars, and You’ll Have the Proportions Right.


 
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.
 

Boy and Girl Naked Dolls

A Mere Child, Merely Copying What He Has Been Shown


 
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.
 

Head In Sand

In Sand, or Up Somewhere Else?


 
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.
 
Previous Non-Teaching Post (Humor/History):
Confession: No Longer Good For the Soul?
 
1st Teaching Post: Shocked By a Rock
 
Prev Teaching Post: Books? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Books!
 
Next Teaching Post: The Boy Who Boomed and Spat
 

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45 Comments

  1. I am always hopeful that the parents will be grateful. Have their eyes opened.

    Not be angry at the teacher for highlighting the source of the problem.

    How sad.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • I know it comes from ignorance. When I was young, age- and gender-mixed young kids were left safely on their own to play all day long. But we were not exposed to the same media influences. Primates copy what they see. Most of today’s parents don’t understand or believe the role their lifestyle choices make in their children’s behaviors, and there are advertising and media-funded sources enough willing to s/tell them that the media are blameless.

      Liked by 1 person

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  2. Also? Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

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  3. L

     /  2015/02/07

    That’s heartbreaking! But at least he got help in time.

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  4. This story makes me so sad. When I was a little girl – back when dinosaurs walked the earth – I got a record player for Christmas with two albums. One was the Hansel and Gretel story with music by Engelbert Humperdinck and the other Peter and the Wolf. These stories and other Brothers Grimm tales were as much as this little girl could handle at that age. My parents were around to keep me safe and I knew no real witch would come and get me. Children have to be eased into the terrors of daily life and are not prepared to be exposed to cynicism, violence, and sex. Do you ever watch Saturday morning cartoons, Babe? They are just awful now. Drawn poorly and full of violence and dumb stuff. I am grateful I was so protected and that I did the same for my daughter.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Absolutely. You and I have spoken of this before. That protective bubble for the early years is all-important. It astonished me, when my sons were in a hoity-toity super-advantaged private university preschool, to discover that the full-professor parents were the most adamant opponents to ANY “censorship” of what entered the ears or eyes of their children.

      This, even AFTER we had an incident where one toddler had to be removed for special counselling after it was discovered she had been sexually precocious–aggressive–with the rest of our children. The apparent cause? Her very liberal professor mom and dad did not believe in causing her separation anxiety due to having her own sleeping space, so she slept in their room on her own bed–uncurtained in any way from the two parents’ activities!

      I believe the old-fashioned expression is “Jesus wept.”.

      (BTW, one of my many “favorite songs” is “When At Night I Go To Sleep…” : )

      Liked by 1 person

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      • Jesus wept is right. Slightly off-topic but I despise the smart-mouthed kids on sitcoms today whose parents, well, usually it’s the father, are dimwits. I think it sends a terrible message to children and rocks their sense of security. I remember my Jen just loving “Little House on the Prairie” and “The Waltons” and shows like that. And Mr. Rogers. Now there was a man who understood children.

        Liked by 1 person

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        • Not off-topic at all!! This absolutely contributes to lack of respect for the adult world.

          I actually have no problem with this type of humor, for kids old enough to fully understand it as non-literal. To me, that means double-digits. (For some younger, but for almost all, ten is pretty safe.)

          Noticed I missed a (pathetic) opportunity in my last reply to take advantage of your kindness and plug one of my least-favored posts (there are a few). It is a particularly nerdy one, and I’ve been advised there is a good reason it is unpopular–that it is boring as all get-out–but that won’t stop me!

          My friend Joey and I were agreeing just this week that quality children’s cartoons pretty much ended with the loss of Duck Tales and Animaniacs. This post was based on the latter:

          https://outlierbabe.wordpress.com/2014/03/20/yakkos-lookin-for-the-gold/

          I subjected my poor lucky 5th-graders to the songs in the post (and other songs I wrote) in order to teach them English and History.

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        • P.S. Loved the Waltons myself, and it was fun that my eldest when little went to school for a brief time with Richard (and Alma) Thomas’s triplets, who were older sweeties, and oohed and aahed over him : )

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          • I’d forgotten this part of Richard Thomas’s story. The triplets, I mean. Hope your Sunday is a good one, Babe. I’m off to work in the yard. Temps nearing 60 today! Yahoo!!!!

            Liked by 1 person

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        • Just noticed I didn’t respond to your mention of Fred Rogers. Unforgivable! Before I had my own children, his appeal was a mystery to me. Afterward? Genius! Lady Elaine Fairchilde? Toots, I miss that mouthy broad. And those ridiculous operas!! What a pleasure watching that slow-paced program was with my toddlers, and chatting about it a bit afterward. Such a difference from what was then the frenetic, frantic, often-cute but often-irksome Sesame Street.

          Liked by 1 person

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  5. Is it because you have your own problems that you’re able to relate well with these disturbed kids, Babe ? – NO OFFENCE !!! Genuine interest.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • I relate more easily to children over the age of eight or nine than to adults–and more than many adults do–because, perhaps, I am stuck at that/those developmental stage/s. I easily remember much from those periods of my life–the good and bad. I see children that age as what they are: Fully little people, with their own thoughts to be respected and listened to.

      And manipulated when necessary, for their own good (or just to wield the mad, marvelous, power of it all!) the poor lil’ sods. Bwah-ah-ah!!

      Liked by 3 people

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  6. Too many parents do not see the harm in exposing their children to sexually explicit films or violent videos. They cannot see the connection between the media and their children’s behavior.

    Generally, they are correct. Kids watch R-Rated movies and play Call of Duty all the time without any visible sign of harm. In most cases, there is no harm at all.

    What they fail to see is that toxic culture works the same way as toxic chemicals. Would they allow their child to drink water laced with mercury or dioxin? Would they allow their child to smoke cigars? Probably not.

    The reality of environmental toxins is that the majority of smokers rarely suffer observable health effects and millions of people drink marginally polluted water every day without dropping – yet we can quantify the harm. It is real and it is terrible.

    The irony is, many of the same hip well-educated people who wouldn’t dream of allowing their child to consume commercially raised chicken, refuse to control what is on their television.

    Liked by 1 person

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    • Yikees! Disregard the typos. I’m doing that a lot today. 😦

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    • I never saw that irony before–duh–you are right!

      Interesting study, too, out of Britain, on “men’s magazines” (e.g. their equiv.’s of Penthouse, Hustler, etc.): The statements made about women in the articles and ads could not be distinguished from those made by convicted rapists considered by psychologists to have…unhealthy…views regarding women. The researchers wonder…could this, just possibly, influence the thinking of young men in an unwholesome direction? Hmmm.

      Thanks for stopping by. Re: typos, iti was, what, 5am your time?, Please do let me know if you ever spot any. Which you will, invariably, should you stop by again. I can’t self-edit (for length) for sh#t.

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      • You are spot on about unhealthy culture. What people understand to be our culture is an amalgam of many subcultures. I am not talking ethnic groups here, I am speaking of Yuppie culture, NASCAR culture, the bar down the block culture as opposed to the bar up the block culture. Humans are very tribal and tend to form and share values within the herd. Today, we lack healthy universal models. The sports world and Hollywood are all too frequently populated by scum and don’t get me started on the attitudes flowing out of the music industry (it makes Penthouse and Hustler look like choir boyz).

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
        • Yes. There’s a rea$on the industry role model$ and media me$$age$ have wor$ened. Even when I was young, marketers had learned that print ads which increased viewers’ discomfort levels subconsciously decreased their satisfaction with what they had and increased their desire for comfort items–desire for product. How much more the media of today has this power, to overwhelm and saturate the psyche! Our minds may literally have no protections–not the youngest, especially. Ugly stuff.

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  7. I fight a constant battle with mine along the lines of “I don’t care if Child X is allowed to watch it, play it, see it, you’re not going to.” And I explain, ad nauseum, that I don’t do it to be annoying but because it is what is best for them. If every parent actually parented appropriately, it would make life a lot easier for all of us.

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    • Yup. So right. But they think they ARE doing it right. I’ve had parents explain to me that it’s a parent’s JOB to buy their child everything they possibly can. Yeepers.

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    • I should have also said “Thank you for putting in the hard work and accepting the lowered popularity it takes to be a caring, responsible parent : ) “

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  8. Eda

     /  2015/02/08

    I love your expression about parents being responsible for everything that goes into their children, and that it clearly goes way beyond what they put in their mouths. Well said.

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    Reply
    • Thank you very much, Eda. I wish that part of the post would reach and influence for the better the many parents whose children could most benefit. (One can always wish.)

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  9. Paul

     /  2015/02/09

    That was one heck of a big difference you made in that boy’s life OB. Amazing and awesome work.

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    Reply
    • Oh, Paul. Thank you so much ❤
      Because it’s mouthy me, other answers:

      And his girl cousin’s, I hope!
      I’d like to think so, but in that neighborhood, with those peer influences?
      Eh. It’s what thousands of teachers do for America’s poorly- and un-parented children every day.
      It’s part of why they pay us the big bucks.

      In my case, let me repeat ad nauseum, that was $200 a year less than a high-school dropout newly-hired garbage collector.

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  10. Hey OB. I am blown away by this post. I am at a loss as to where to focus my comments because every single paragraph is loaded with impact. I think I shall simply say thank you. For caring. For your presence of mind with the boy. For doing instead of not doing. Mostly for writing an eloquent and moving piece. This is potent stuff, Babe. If I had religion, I’d say “bless you.”

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    • Hellooo…into your hidden lurking corner, Maggie. Thank you very much for unlurking to come out and comment, and for being so kind in what you said. Nothing I did at the time that year felt competent or heroic, but now, fifteen years on, I can finally recognize that any first-year teacher who manages to keep her/his head above water, and teach, in a class with supportive parents and administration, is doing well.

      Therefore, I do feel both extra proud now, and extra angry (a very calm, quiet type of anger, though) at the outrageous situations I was expected to face, deal with–appropriately–on my own, without adequate mentoring or monitoring, and endure daily.

      Thank you again for your thanks. I am glad the writing was effective, and flattered that YOU found it so.

      Liked by 1 person

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  11. Dang. What I meant to add or say is that now, I feel appreciated.

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  12. The best part of this story to me, Babe, is that Amon knew somehow that he needed help that day so he acted up even more in class and pushed your buttons because he trusted that you would be the one to give him that help he needed. Smart little kid who just did not know how to ask adults how to help him the normal way because, well, he had nobody in his life to show him how that worked.

    Great news how he was helping youngsters when you checked in on him a couple years later, Babe.

    Yes, it is so bad that smart parents see nothing wrong in exposing young children to adult things they should not be seeing and then chastise the world for calling them on it. Oy.

    Liked by 2 people

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    • At first, I thought you were giving me and Amon too much credit–him in that trust thing. But, OTH, I do think that many (most) teachers make their classrooms feel like a place of safety for their charges. Mark, you make me feel good in thinking that it may have been that feeling which helped Amon : )

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  13. A powerful piece and agree with all Mark said above. He acted out and you intercepted and decoded his message. Other teachers may just have gone on to punish him and he may have taken a completely different turn. You did save lives Babe. And I suspect the mother was upset for usurping her parenting skills, for making her be present for her child (and perhaps costing baby-sitting fees when necessary) and for involving child services to force her into acting responsibly (and possibly shaming her if she felt any of that). In the end this is a feel good story for Amon and we all need those. Life is about how you make others feel and like Lucy from Peanuts, the doctor was in that day, Oh Great OB-wan 🙂

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    • Stephanie, I am disgusted by my previous self-pitying reply to your wonderful, uplifting comment. So disgusted that I am exercising my Blogmistress privilege and deleting it. I spit on that whiny puke.

      Redo:
      Thank you! Thank you thank you for the best Valentine I have received today! ❤ ❤ ❤

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