Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Can You Say "No?"

Can you? And if you do, do you really mean it? Because if you can't, you might not want to go into teaching. And you might not want to be a parent, either (though you may not have much of a choice, what with that regrettable inability).

When Steven starts fights in classes, and refuses to do any work, and hands in tests with blank answers, you'd think there would be consequences, and of course there should be. So when Ms. Holloway says, "Forget it Steve, you can't come on the class trip," you'd think that would be the end of it. But it wasn't, so when Steve got on the bus anyway, she had another teacher instruct him off, despite his yowls of protest.

Now Steve had his cell handy, and his mom was just a phone call away. And this, for Steve's mom, was a true outrage. She called the supervisor immediately.

"He really wants to go," she told the supervisor. "If he doesn't go, he might do something stupid."

This was frightening to the supervisor. She hated the thought of being responsible for a child's behavior, so she allowed Steve to go with the other bus. Steve was upset he couldn't stay with his friends and teacher, but managed to get on the trip regardless. All in all, he was doing all right. Consequences? For him? Out of the question.

So naturally, during the last week of school, Steve didn't hesitate to beat the crap out of a kid who liked the same girl he did. So what if the girl liked the other guy better than him? This was a matter of principle. What could they do to him anyway? Suspension? What was that? In school? No problem at all, especially if you don't show up.

But when his class had a party at the end of the year, well, that was something worth coming in for. So he showed up. When Ms. Holloway told him to leave, he just laughed. When she called security and had them remove him from the building, he wasn't laughing anymore.

If only he'd known there could be consequences for his actions, maybe he wouldn't have beat the crap out of that kid. After all, now he had to miss a party because of it, and it was a genuine inconvenience.

Steve blamed the teacher. She should have warned him about stuff like that.
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