Yesterday I made my son mad at me.  It wasn’t deliberate, at least not in the usual sense.  I knew when I did it he might get mad.  But, I had no choice.

I had already taught my art lesson to second grade, then first grade, and was now in my son’s third grade class to teach them about Vincent Van Gogh.  My son’s class has a bit of a reputation.  It isn’t one of the easiest classes to teach.  It seems that most of the disruptive kids were put in this one class.  The teacher maintains control by taking minutes away from recess when the “class” is misbehaving.  I guess it works for her.  The problem with that system is that it punishes the kids who are being good along with those who are misbehaving.  Since the teacher leaves the room for the forty minutes that I teach, I decided to try a different approach.

I announced to the class that at the end of the session, if I felt that a majority of the class had been good, I would restore some of the recess minutes that had already been taken away that day, but that I was taking it one step further.  I was going to keep a list of any who disrupted the class in any way.  At the end of the session I would give the list to the teacher and she could decide what to do with those students.  Maybe it would only be them missing recess time.  I told them that if they got their name on the list they would have one chance to get it removed by listening and being good.  If they got their name on the list a second time it would be on the list permanently.

I began my power point about Van Gogh.  Part way through the lesson, as I was sharing a letter Van Gogh had written to his brother, I glanced over at my son and saw him and the girl that sits next to him sprawled upside down in their chairs.  They were giggling to each other.

“Uh oh,” I said as I pulled out my paper and pen, “It looks like Yawlin and K are the first to get their names on the list.”  Yawlin and K quickly sat up.  I heard some of the most disruptive boys in the class snicker.  If the lights hadn’t been out for the power point, I’m sure I would have seen my son blushing.  I went on with the lesson.  Yawlin sat through the rest of the lesson with a scowl on his face.  I’m pretty sure that he had thought he could get away with goofing off because the art teacher is his mom.  He thought wrong.

When I passed out the prep work for next week’s art project Yawlin took the papers without looking at me.  He wrote his name and began the work.  He didn’t say a word to anyone.  Four more kids got their names added to the list.  All but one boy managed to get their names removed.  At the end of the session I handed the paper to the teacher who immediately called the boy whose name remained on the list over to talk with him about his behavior.  I pushed my cart to the door and looked over at Yawlin, who usually gives me a hug before I leave to teach Kindergarten, but he was ignoring me.  Oh well, I thought.  He’ll get over it.  

When Yawlin reached my crossing that afternoon he continued to ignore me.  He didn’t even look at me as he crossed the street.  Periodically I sat in the car to get warm between crossing groups of kids.  I tried asking Yawlin about his day.  Silence.  I told him a funny joke I’d heard.  Silence.  I commented about some of his friends.  Yawlin reached down and grabbed a magazine I have in the car and started thumbing through it.  Not a word to me.

Okay, time to make sure he understood.  “Hey, just because you are my son doesn’t mean I am going to ignore any misbehavior from you.  It is just plain rude to goof off when someone is teaching you a lesson.  And you’d better not be disruptive when your regular teacher is teaching, because if I find out you are goofing off in class I am going to have to do something about it at home.  Hope you understand.  And hope you get over it.”

Yawlin continued to look at the magazine.  I finished crossing kids, turned off the speed limit signs, and drove home.  After parking the car in the driveway I looked at Yawlin.  That magazine had become his best friend.  I grabbed my keys.  “Make sure you bring your back pack in with you when you decide to come in the house.”  I went into the house to greet the rest of the kids.  Yawlin came in shortly afterward and stomped up the stairs to his room.

Yawlin and his sisters went to spend a couple of hours with their dad like they always do on Thursday nights.  When he returned home he took his shower and then brought his homework to me to sign.  He gave me a hug and a kiss, told me he loved me, and went to bed.  This morning at my crossing he read his library book while I crossed kids.  When it was time for him to cross and walk to school he got out of the car, gave me two hugs and flashed me the “I love you” sign with his hand.

Yup, he got over it.

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