Thursday, October 28, 2010

How can I get mad when I did the same thing as a kid?

A few days ago, a couple of my grade 5s were running towards the playground with a monster-sized umbrella.  Looking at the two boys, I knew exactly what they were up to.  I called out "Don't even think about it!"  They looked at me quite befuddled as to how I knew what they were going to do before they even got to playground.  They were planning on climbing to the top of the playground, probably around 7-8 feet high and see if the umbrella would act like a parachute.  How did I know?  Because I did the same thing as a kid, and truth be told, there was a part of me that was very tempted to join them.

Every once in a while I have a student who has been sent to the office.  They tell me the story and I have to stop myself from laughing, or try to act upset, when in the back of my mind I am thinking "Yikes, I did that around that age", or even worse "that sounds like a lot of fun...".  Of course I would never admit it to the kids in the office, but it is always good at a dinner meeting or two to share the story about using sticks as swords, rolling down muddy hills on your side, running on sheets of ice...

A couple of weeks ago I saw a boy wet a paper towel look skywards and was about to launch it towards the ceiling when I happened to check in because I was hearing some noise.  He looked at me, I looked at him, he put it in the trash, apologized and we had a little chat about respect.  In the back of my mind I am thinking, hmmm, grade 7 if I recall.  I had walked into the boys washroom and saw a ton of toilet paper that had been stuck to the ceiling and I started to wonder if paper towel would stick as well as toilet paper.  Now there was a ton of tp on the ceiling and I have some rather cursed luck when it comes to timing.  I launched it at the ceiling and just as I did the custodian came in and saw me throw it, looked at the ceiling and next thing I know I was talking to M. Talmanis, my principal.  The worst part of it was that my mom taught at my school so it did not take long for her to find her way down to the office to join in the fun or berating me for my lack of respect for the school.

A few years ago I had a kindergarten boy in my office because I had heard that he said a bad word.  Usually this consists of idiot, stupid or something like that.  Occasionally they are harsher words.  This boy had been told by a friend of his brother's that there was a word that he could use that was really bad and that it was fun to see people react to him using it, the F bomb.  When I asked him what was it that he had been saying he told me flat out, which caught me off guard, as usually they will just say "the f-word" and not the actual f bomb.  I asked him what made him say that and he told me the story, again dropping the F-bomb when he came to what he had said.  I told him that he should not be using the word anymore but he said that he had to because I told him that he had to tell me truth.  Got me on that one.  How did I relate? I was 4 or 5 when I found out about that word and loved to write it out to get a rise out of other people as well as writing it around the entire perimeter of my bed to the point that when my parents moved my bed they were greeted by that word written many times over.  My mom likes to share that story with people at dinner, although her reaction at the time was not quite as amusing.

I am not trying to justify the "Boys will be boys" attitude, but rather just share the random thoughts that pop into my head.  Every once in a while I look at many of my more intelligent ideas, some of which I can lay blame on my older brother for encouraging me to do it, others were purely of my own creation.  I deal with them appropriately, but every once in a while, after the kids of left, a staff member joins me and we get a good laugh out of it.

examples of not so great ideas:
1) Hanging out of a second floor window because my brother told me that I could easily jump to the ground and hanging from the window sill and screaming until my parents, who were having a dinner party, came up to pull me back in.

2) trying to climb a tree by attaching a rope to a very large rock and only watching to see if the rock went over the branch and not where it was going to land.  Not sure I ever recovered from that concussion as a 6 year old.

3) Being 15 and hell bent on doing a 360 while skiing meant finding a jump that was around 6-7 feet high, flying off of it, only getting around to do a 180 and crashing in the powder.  Then I would get back up and try again.  Never did do a 360, but I did have bruises 360 degrees around me.

4) Playing follow the leader, as a 7 year old, on bikes while crossing a major street (King Edward for those in Vancouver) and somehow only getting a sprained ankle from when the car hit me.

Is being stupid a right of passage for boys, or do we just become smarter about the stupid things that we do?  It does make it easier to see what is about to happen because, more often than not, I either did the same thing of thought of doing the same thing.


  1. When I say that I teach middle school, people often ask me, "How do you deal with the kids?" or "Aren't you getting attitude all the time?"

    Well, first of all, it's not as bad as people think. The vast majority of interactions I have with kids are positive. Occasionally, as with any age, you'll have to deal with the negative stuff.

    I tell people that I consider kids' jobs (especially around puberty) to entail pushing boundaries, seeing what they can get away with, trial-and-error, trying out how they feel & behave in situations, etc. It's their JOB to do that. They must do it, as part of their development.

    And it's my job to show them where the line is.

    It doesn't always make it easy when they do things that I totally understand, or had done them myself, or even wishing I had/could do them. With teenagers, they usually respond best to good reasons, and sometimes... there aren't any. Any good ones, anyways.

    That's the burden we have, Remi. :) I say, bring it on! We are up for the challenge.

  2. You are so right. I learn so much from the kids when we have some negative interactions at times, and getting to the core is essential. Sometimes the kids do need to explore, and you are bang on when it comes to limits.