Sunday, October 5, 2008

So how has your week been?

My chiropractor always makes sure to ask me how my week has been.  In a classroom, truth frequently is stranger than fiction.

The bathroom is always an issue with 6th graders.  They're still in elementary school mode, and everyone knows that they have the bladders of a French poodle- meaning, can hold obscene amounts of liquid but has to be emptied every 15 minutes.  Teachers have to walk a fine line when it comes to granting permission for the bathroom: while I don't want students peeing their pants, they do need to learn the art of going to the bathroom at lunch so you're not bugging others 15 minutes after the bell rings.

Danny came up to me in class and asked if he could use the restroom.  Danny is the kind of kid that can really abuse a bathroom policy.  For one, he tends not to plan ahead.  If you tell Danny that the project is due on Friday, he'll fart around for four days chatting with his friends while everyone else (except his friends) works, then complain on Friday that he couldn't finish the project because he had a soccer game and could you please give him a few more days.  Oh, and you're not going to take off any late points, are you?  Because I had a soccer game and my mom said I had to go to bed at 11 and it wouldn't be fair to take off points.

Anyways, Danny came up and asked to go to the bathroom.  He'd already gone to the bathroom during class yesterday and he wasn't doing the pee-pee dance so I figured I was safe telling him to hold it until the end of class.  

"But I have to go!  What if I go in my seat?"

I let him know that I had plenty of paper towels and I wouldn't get angry at all as long as he cleaned up after himself.  Disappointed, Danny walked off.

A few minutes later, Renald came to talk to me.  He wanted to know if he needed a pass to go to the office if he was hurt.  Concerned, I asked him if he was.  "No, but I had to go to the bathroom the other day and I didn't want to waste it if I needed my bathroom pass to go to the office."  I assured Renald that I would certainly make exceptions to the out-of-class rule if someone got hurt in my class.

Barely a few minutes passed when Danny came back up.  This time, however, Danny didn't want to go to the bathroom.  Danny had a puncture wound in his hand that looked like it came from a pencil.  It wasn't bleeding badly, but it must have hurt like hell.  He asked very politely if he could go to the office to have it looked at.

At this point, my suspicions were aroused.  "Sure, Danny.  I'll write you a pass.  By the way, you might want to stop at the bathroom on your way back."  After sending Danny out the door, I caught Renald's eye and motioned for him to come talk to me.

"Renald, what happened?"
"Don't 'Huh' me: you know what I'm talking about.  How did Danny get stabbed with a pencil?"
"Well, you said if we were hurt, you'd let us go to the office and I knew Danny wanted to go to the bathroom, so I told him to stick his hand out and when he did, I kinda poked him with the pencil so he could go out."

At this point, I'm not sure exactly how to feel about this.  On the one hand, I have to admire him for his strategy: he found a perfectly valid loophole for the school's bathroom policy.  On the other hand, stabbing a classmate with a pencil tends to disturb parents when they hear about it later.

I still sent Renald to the office, but you have to respect that kind of out-of-the-box thinking.

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