I am now working at an after school/college prep/tutoring company in a Very Expensive Town in Long Island. To give you an idea of what kind of kids these are, one day I said to one boy, “Pack up, your mom is going to be here soon to pick you up.” The boy said replied, “My mom doesn’t pick me up. Our driver picks me up.” Well excuse me, I didn’t know you had a driver.
Anyway, the place is pretty disorganized. And expensive (for the parents). I guess the parents feel that since they’re paying, their kids get to do whatever they want. This was made abundantly clear to me when on my first day a 7 year old boy was repeatedly throwing himself on the floor and saying “I want to break a bone!" I tried to stop him but he said “You can’t tell me what to do.” Soon thereafter the mom arrived, very swank looking lady. I was so relieved. I rushed up to the mother to try to tell her about her son’s disturbing habit of throwing himself on the floor. To my shock the owner of the place grabbed me and led me away. “Teachers are not allowed to talk to parents!”
“These parents are very wealthy, and I know how to talk to them, because I am like them. But teachers are not diplomatic enough … just trust me.”
I was gobsmacked. I’ve never had anyone imply that I was too low class to talk to a parent.
Sure enough the kid went home with some chafing on his arms that resulted from him repeatedly throwing himself on the floor. The mom called, irate. The owner wanted to know why this happened. I pointed out to her that I tried to tell the mom exactly how it happened: he was repeatedly hurling himself on the floor. “Hmm, but we can’t tell her that,” she said. Okay then. What would we tell her? “I don’t know,” she said, with a ponderous expression.
The boy is very troubled. He’s 7, but he’s made comments about how much he wants to kill everyone, and then proceeded to tell me in graphic detail how everyone would die. He also told me “I’m going to whip out my weiner and pee in your drink.” I talked to the other teachers about this, they said “oh at least he didn’t say that he wanted to slit your throat, which is what he told me.” But we’re not allowed to tell the parents about this. We’re not allowed to tell the parents anything. No wonder turnover is so high — no one at the company has been working there more than a few months.
Most of the kids are pretty inoffensive. They talk casually about attending country club parties with their parents, and how they have butlers at home who clean up after them. But they’re okay, I can talk to them. Country club parties and Lexus models aren’t my favorite topic of conversation, but whatever. It’s the owner who has decided that apparently, I’m too low class to talk to the parents.
I’m reminded of that conversation between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. “The rich are very different from you and me.” “Yes, they have more money.” Well now this needs an addendum: “And they don’t have to talk to teachers."