Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Don't Tread on Me

Some days, Maria and I get along fine. She doesn't do a whole lot of work, or pay much attention, but we're usually friendly. I don't know exactly why she can't concentrate. Once I sent her to the nurse when she appeared to be talking to herself, and no, she wasn't wearing one of those bluetooth things.

Other times, we don't get along that well. For example, when she walks into the trailer five minutes late, I'm not happy at all, and I want her and everyone else to know it. Yesterday, as she walked in, saying, "I'm not late," I did not have a whole lot of patience. I asked her to sit down, and raise her hand if she had any questions. She immediately raised her hand, and I proceeded to ignore her utterly. Two minutes later, she became terribly ill with a headache, and demanded to go to the nurse. "You can't say no," she instructed me.

I didn't say anything, at all, and shortly thereafter she wrote herself a pass and brought it up for me to sign. When I didn't respond, she walked out of the classroom.

"She showed me," I announced. Then I went to the phone and dialed her home number. I got her dad and explained to him in Spanish what had just happened. He was not pleased, and I'm certain Maria had a less than joyful homecoming. More importantly, every kid in the room knew exactly how long it took me to react to such nonsense.

I explained to my class that it was a very bad idea to give me a hard time if their parents spoke Spanish. If their parents spoke English, that was even worse.

"That's true," said a young woman from Pakistan, who had learned from experience.

"What if they speak French?" asked a curious girl in back of the room.

"Well, I'm good friends with Madame Rosenberg, and she'll speak to your parents for me. She's a little nicer than I am, but not that much."

We had a discussion about who I knew and which languages they speak, and the Albanian kid in the second row finally had me stumped. I don't know anyone who speaks Albanian, and I'm pretty sure I never even met anyone from Albania until this year, when for some reason, I got three kids from Albania.

"OK, you win. But the last time you cut class I called your mom. She didn't understand everything, but she did understand you weren't in school. I notice you haven't missed a class since then."

He nodded gravely.

You can't win 'em all. But you can let the kids know you'll do everything within your power, and usually they'll give someone else a hard time. Usually, that person will be your colleague who's too busy to make phone calls and terrorize everyone who steps out of line.
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