Monday, January 10, 2011

A Surprising Mean Streak

My classroom runs well.  This is due, almost entirely, to my mini-economy system which ensures that each child in my class has some degree of responsibility for management-type tasks that need to be done daily.  Changing bulletin boards, checking homework, running errands, stacking chairs, erasing blackboards, vacuuming up messes, watering plants, passing out supplies.  Each child earns a salary of Boyd Bucks which can be spent in a classroom store or at our end-of-the-year auction.  The kids learn responsibility, and I have time to focus on more important things like teaching my students how to add and subtract fractions with unlike denominators.  Or checking Facebook. 

Just kidding. 


Anyway, one of the jobs in my class is the Remote Controller.  This person gets to keep the TV/DVD/VCR remote in his or her desk and is responsible for turning the TV on and off each day for morning announcements.  Announcements usually start at about 9:05 each day, and this semester my Remote Controller has a bit of a tardiness issue.  In case the Remote Controller is late or absent, it is the job of the Substitute to get the remote from the Remote Controller's desk and turn on the TV.  And, as you know from reading my second post of the year, Kinley is the Substitute.

When Kinley was in kindergarten, there was a little girl on the playground who – how do I say this tactfully? – drove Kinley nuts.  Kinley complained about being antagonized by this child all that year. 

So when Kinley found out that The Antagonizer was going to be in her class this year, she wasn't very excited.  And, The Antagonizer is also our Remote Controller.  (From this point forward, we shall refer to this child as RC.  That's for Remote Controller in case you're confused.)

Recently, Kinley has had to turn on the TV several times because RC has been late.  But then, because RC usually comes in before announcements are over, a sort of power play ensued because Kinley wanted to finish the job she'd started.  One day, I even had to speak to RC because she had jerked the remote from Kinley's hand when she came in and saw Kinley doing her job.

So imagine my surprise when the other day I tell Kinley to turn on the TV (since RC is late again) and I witness my daughter turn equally nasty.  During announcements RC arrives at the doorway, tardy once more.  She politely stays put during the "Mayflower Mill Pledge", and I see Kinley turn and look at her.  At this point announcements end.  I expect Kinley to put down the remote and walk back to her desk, allowing RC to finish the job and turn off the TV.  But no.  She looks directly at RC, turns of the TV, and then turns and smiles a VERY deliberate, nasty smile at RC before sashaying back across the room to her desk. 

I was stunned!  I had just witnessed my daughter antagonizing The Antagonizer! 

So I marched right over to her desk, squatted down beside her and said, "I can't believe what you just did!  Pay a 10 Boyd Buck fine RIGHT NOW!  That was just MEAN.  Nothing but MEAN."  And I stalked away.

Of course she started sobbing, but that was fine with me.  Give some people a little responsibility and they act like dictators.  And the last thing I need is a Substitute with a mean streak and ambitions of being Class President.  Et tu, Kinley?

I may not be able to "knock" the meanness out of other people's kids, but I certainly can my own.  Or at least I can bankrupt her.


Lanita Bradley Boyd said...

Confession: She gets that mean streak from her paternal grandmother--me. I take total responsibility since I've always fought that mean streak myself (and often lost.)

Here's an important question: Would you have given the same response to any other child in the classroom?

boyd2 said...

Sorry, Lanita. You don't get all the credit for this one. I have quite a nasty streak myself!

But the question you raise is a good one and is probably one I should ask myself after every in-class interection with Kinley. Since I had already spoken to RC privately when she was ugly to Kinley in the first place, I'm tempted to say that I WOULD have had the same response to any other child. But I know that I reacted much more emotionally as the parent. Kinley's actions just really struck a nerve with the mom in me.

So, would I have spoken to another child about such an interaction? Yes. Would I have fined another child? Maybe. Would I have vitriolically spit out my response to another student with no other provocation? Not a chance.