Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Unless Somebody's Bleeding, Don't Call Me

by Sariah S. Wilson

Thanks to everyone for the jokes last week - my kids now have some new favorites.

Speaking of kids, I got a very stupid phone call on Friday.

Let me preface this by saying that I love teachers - I think they have one of the hardest jobs in this country and I have spent many years doing my best to appreciate and support my kids' teachers. Let me say secondly that I understand everyone's got to start somewhere.

That being said, it was with a fair amount of trepidation that I answered the phone. Caller ID indicated that it was a phone call from a school (the local schools all have the same "name" - a nearby township). I assumed it was my older son's school, and as it was the middle of the afternoon, there was no way it could be a good thing.

I answered and a woman who introduced herself as a student teacher began talking. She said my second son's name, and my immediate thought was that there had to be some kind of mistake. He's not the type to do something wrong. As I sat puzzling over how it could possibly be him, I decided to ask to find out what name she'd actually said. As I'm probably suffering from severe sleep deprivation psychosis, I thought it best to ascertain what exactly she'd said since auditory hallucinations are not outside the realm of possibility.

Before I could interrupt her to ask, she repeated my second son's name.

What? What could he have done? He's the one who never, ever gets in trouble. I sat down in my chair, my legs suddenly giving out from underneath me. I felt like I couldn't go down this road with him. It's hard enough with my oldest - for example, just the day before the oldest's principal had called to tell me that my son had bit himself on the arm in an attempt to get another boy in trouble. (The indentation marks were still on his arm when he got home.) My mom said, "Hey, as far as I'm concerned that's progress. Last year he would have bit the other kid!"

I'm feeling panicked as the very young student teacher informs me that my second son was in the bathroom at his school with another student from class when he was "caught" by another teacher.

Holy crap. "Caught" doing what?

Worst case scenarios, welcome to my brain.

Had he hit the kid? Peed on the floor? Exposed himself? Set off a cherry bomb in a toilet? Turned on all the sinks at once and flooded the entire first grade?

"It seems that he and the other little boy were playing basketball with wadded up paper towels, using the trash can for a hoop."

It was at this point that the student teacher paused for the first time. I was obviously supposed to respond.

I didn't think it would be appropriate to laugh. So I just sat there.

Seriously? You're calling me because he's acting like a six-year-old boy? He threw wadded up paper towels in a trash can? That's the serious offense that warranted a phone call?

When I didn't answer the teacher proceeded to tell me that she could tell he felt really, really bad about it and that she wanted to give me a heads up and that he had really managed to pull himself together that afternoon.

Again, imminent laughter that had to be held at bay. Just the week previous my oldest son in a fit of rage had torn down all the wall art/posters in the hallway outside of his classroom after he was sent to time-out, thrown the desks and chairs in same said hallway and then proceeded to pee himself because he was so upset. So when he managed to "pull himself together" after that colorful morning, I was highly impressed. That's something to pull yourself together from.

Paper towel basketball? Not so much.

"Well, I just wanted to give you the heads up and let you know what had happened."


To be fair, he is a very sensitive little boy so it was entirely possible that he had cried when he was punished for the major behavioral travesty he had committed, so maybe she wanted me to understand why he would be coming home that day upset. (Which so did not happen. I asked him about the situation and it was such a non-issue to him that he didn't even really recall it happening. No tears at all.)

I continued just to sit there, unable to think of anything appropriate to say. Because I'm thinking, "You want to see a problem? I can show you what a real behavioral issue looks like."

Another long pause and then the teacher said, "Again, I just wanted to give you a heads up. Just so you know. Okay?"

Yes! Finally, something I could say. "Okay."

Then another extended pause. It was still my turn to say something. So I added, "Um, thank you?"

I could practically hear her beaming on the other end. I had finally recognized her efforts. "You're very welcome! Have a great day!"

It did end up being a great day as I called my husband to recap the conversation. I couldn't stop laughing, and it didn't help any when he said, "You should have told her that unless somebody's bleeding, don't call me."

I don't know why that struck me as so funny, but it gave me the best laugh that I have had in many months.

But I wondered whether the other little boy's mother felt like I did, or if this was devastating news for her.

Perspective makes so much of a difference in how we react to any given situation, and it is especially important in writing. Your character might not react to the obstacle you give them the same way you would. The hero and the villain have perspectives that make their reactions entirely different (which is also part of what makes them the hero or the villain).

Sleep deprivation and yet I still have the ability to laugh at my life and provide a fairly obvious writing tip. I think that earns me a gold star:


At 3/28/2009 9:12 PM, Blogger Annette Lyon said...

Good to know that student teachers are on top of such critical issues. Haha!

At 3/29/2009 12:18 AM, Blogger Sandra said...

My daughter, age 9, has never ever been in trouble at school. She has never even so much as been told to stop talking by her teacher. In Dec the playground aid "caught" her doing something trivial like this and very 4th graderish. The first year principal suspended her for 3 days!! I had much the same response as you when I got the phone call. And after I got to the school I kept waiting for someone to say "Surprise, You're on Candid Camera!"

At 3/30/2009 12:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This young student teacher obviously didn't have any children of her own or she would have never made the silly phone call. Last week we had two grade school boys leave ground-up chalk in a amber colored vial marked E-coli just for fun. They're now being prosecuted for a felony. Now that's when you make that serious call to the parents.

Deb in Yuma

At 3/30/2009 5:27 PM, Blogger Traci Hunter Abramson said...

Thanks for the laugh Sariah! I hope you get to move past the sleep deprived stage soon...but keep your sense of humor. :)

At 3/30/2009 5:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 3/31/2009 12:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said... an education student myself, can I just say she probably wasn't working alone? Like the professor overseeing her student teaching probably came in an observed one day and said she had bad classroom management and needed to get a handle on things and this phone call was the result. It'll probably show up in her final teacher work sample as an example of how she's improved in "following through on consequences" or something. ;)

At 4/01/2009 9:14 PM, Blogger Tristi Pinkston said...

Oh, that is seriously funny.

Wanna go over to the church with me and play basketball with paper towels? I know the building's open ... it's our ward's night.

Come on, you know you wanna!

At 4/04/2009 10:25 AM, Blogger christina pettit said...

I teach and have taught for 10 years. Would it comfort everyone to know that we call you less and less the more we teach? If my student had been throwing paper towels in the bathroom, I would have made him clean it up at recess. That poor student teacher. She will learn. :)

At 7/26/2009 9:19 PM, Blogger Kevin said...

This comment has been removed by the author.


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