Sometimes kids tattle on their parents without really understanding what they’re doing. There are times when students disclose to us serious things that happen in the home but other times it is much more lighthearted and funny. The best of these stories come when the student has absolutely no idea what they’re actually telling us. Other times they know what they’re saying and just don’t realize how much their parent doesn’t want us to hear it. For example…
The Crying Baby
I was doing a reward lunch with a group of students. These are always great because students just talk. When they’re allowed to just talk, really funny things come out of their mouth. This one student was talking about his siblings. “Mr. Steidl, my little brother cries a lot. Yesterday, my mom and her boyfriend went in to her bedroom because they had to find something in her closet. They were in there for a long time looking and I had to watch my baby brother the whole time. He was just crying and crying.” I didn’t ask if they found what they were looking for.
Those Red Lights Are the Worst
This time was right around Marin Luther King Jr. day. We were talking about the impact that he had on our nation and how he was instrumental in changing some very unfair laws. I was trying to explain to a group of first graders what the Jim Crow laws were. One little girl raised her hand and just started talking. “Mr. Steidl I know we have laws that are really really bad. Like red lights.” “Red lights?” “Yeah you know like on the roads.” “Yes. I know what red lights are. Why are they so bad?” “Well my mom always says that the red lights make her late for work.” “Yep. Red lights are the worst for that aren’t they.”
We’ve had a few students this year that moved here from Puerto Rico after the hurricane. These students obviously bring a whole set of new challenges with the language barrier and other factors. It’s fascinating to watch them acclimate socially and begin to learn the language. It’s funny to see which words they learn first from their peers. One of the boys simply hardly talks at all even to me in Spanish. So his teacher was very surprised when she heard him not only speak but say “Holy shit.” So, we found ourselves having a discussion about language that is appropriate for school. We usually get some kids say things like, “But my mom says that all the time.” One time I remember a girl even looking at us and saying, “Um, have you met my step dad Jose?” Well this particular time, when we were talking about swearing, one student raised her hand and said, “Mr. Steidl, my mom cusses about you all the time.” “Really?” I replied. “Yeah, she doesn’t like you very much. She always calls you the B word and the F word. She sometimes says the S word too when she talks about you.” Well thank you. That is very encouraging. I’m sure she wants you to let me know.