Wednesday, May 12, 2010

That's What I'm Talking About!

Mrs. S came to see me today with a pressing issue; it seems Robert had gotten himself in a little trouble in class that resulted in her writing a referral, and he hadn't handled it well. Normally-mild-mannered Robert stomped around, pounding on desktops, and spewing angry declarations about his teachers hating him.  She asked for my support.  I went down to my room, where Robert was sitting alone at a desk that was wet with his tears.

[Robert had made a "Kick Me" sign and placed in on the back of another special needs student (who already has enough problems without adding that kind of thing.) On the surface of things, this might seem minor, but you'll have to trust me that it was appropriate under the circumstances.] I'm telling you this so that you realize that this referral was something Robert (or any student, really) should have just accepted and let roll off his back.

Robert, however, was crying. I pulled up a chair and gently asked, "Did you make a mistake, Robert?"

He sobbed, ""  This was followed by full-out bawling, complete with hiccups and hyperventilation.

I'd never seen him like this! He was really worked up!

"Robert, please take a deep breath through your nose." I modeled, and he followed suit. "Again."

"Robert, I understand that you got written up, but I'm confused about why you are so upset about it. Can you tell me why you are so upset?"

He took a shallow breath and replied, "Because...hic hic....I'm....hic hic....gonna get in a lot of trouble....hic.... at home."

Hm. I had no idea; I've had a working relationship with his dad all year and never pegged him to be overly punitive. Judging from his inability to stop crying, I feared the worst. Would he be beaten? Verbally abused? With trepidation, I asked, "What kind of trouble?"

Robert gained some composure but still hiccuped, "Usually... I'll have to (hic) do extra chores (sniff) and probably not [hic] get to go to [sob] baseball practice."


"So, you're upset because you are worried you won't get to go to practice tonight, right? Not for any other reason?"  He nodded.

Seriously? This kid was bawling because his dad was going to hold him accountable?  (I can't tell you how relieved I was.)

I let him catch his breath again and asked if he was ready to call his dad. [Mrs. S. had told him that he, not she, would be calling his dad to break the news. Isn't that an awesome idea?!] He nodded, and I gave him some space, but not so much that I didn't hear him greet his dad's voice with a torrent of tears so loud and hard that he couldn't talk for at least 15 seconds. (I felt sorry for his dad, who was probably wondering who had died.) Finally, Robert was able to talk, and I heard parts of his end...

"Dad, I made a mistake."  "I just wish I had thought before making a bad choice." "I'm sorry dad."

His dad managed to talk him down, and they hung up a few minutes later with, "I love you, too, Dad."

I asked Robert if I could do anything for him, and he said, "No thanks."  He could breathe by then, and he said he was ready to go back to class.

Feeling a little sorry for his dad, I called him after Robert left. When he picked up, I opened with, "You've really got to stop beating that kid!" and we both laughed.  Then, I thanked him for being a great dad; Robert had been so upset, not only because he would miss practice, but because he couldn't bear the thought of letting his dad down.

Something tells me he's going to be on his best behavior til at least the end of the school year.

Three weeks left...


  1. That was such a good teaching moment, and it's good to hear about a parent that recognizes those. Sounds like you teachers have your acts together too. Having him call his dad was excellent, and just having him calm down by breathing...not many would have taken the time. You all are awesome!

  2. What a wonderful, teachable moment for Robert! There's something so endearing about middle school boys blubbering over something like missing baseball practice and being truly sorry for a mistake. Makes me miss some of my students. What a great story!

  3. Great story, thanks for sharing that!

  4. I have to say, one of the things that makes my big guy the most upset is thinking that he let us down. Great story!

  5. Poor Robert, something that might not bother a regular student can really traumatize the special ones. I'm so happy Robert has a great dad to depend on.

    God bless and have a marvelous day.

    Are ya countin' the hours yet???

  6. I love good parents like that!! What a blessing!

  7. I'm impressed with the way you handled it. Smooth!

    And the thought of missing baseball practice? OHHH the horror of it all. As a former little leaguer, I can't think of anything worse.

  8. Great story, I probably would have got tears when seeing him cry, LOL I am a softie that way! ;)

  9. I have tears in my eyes! You always have such good stories, with heart. I love that you love your job and admire your heart for it. Not everyone can do what you do, including me for sure!!

  10. Aw, I find it just too sweet that Robert was so upset to realize he had let his father down. Sounds like it all turned out okay in the end.
    Three more weeks, yay! TT just recently discovered that his buddy next door would be done about a week before we would (we homeschool, next door attends the local ISD). OH NO, he was not having it. Kid has been cracking the whip on himself to try to get ahead so he will be done the same day his friends will. I love it!

  11. It sounds like Robert is in the perfect school and has the perfect father for him. How wonderful.

  12. Not only was it a great story. You tell it well. Hang in there. :)

  13. You are a very special person, Mrs. 4x4! God Bless you and everything you do for these kids...

  14. So sweet! I got choked up over the phone call. Don't we have the best jobs ever?????

  15. Makes it all worth while doesn't it.


  16. Got to love that there are still parents that hold their kids accountable. I had a situation with Wire Nut a couple of weeks ago and he was upset because we had planned an outing. So he told me all about it and we still went...only because it ended up not being his fault. But he knew :)

  17. what a great dad. that boy has a lot going for him and is very very lucky.


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