Monday, January 11, 2010

The post where stabbing myself in the eye with a sharp stick begins to sound fun

books Way back before I became an administrator, I was a teacher of middle school students with behavior disorders. Yeah. I know. Crazy! What was I thinking? Who knew behavior disordered middle schoolers could be saner than parents? Occasionally a student would bring a book to me pointing out a *bad* word to which I would always give the same simple response.
“Thank you for pointing that out. Obviously, you are not mature enough for this book. I’ll return it to the library for you.”
At that point, the conversation was over. There was no debate. And I never had this conversation twice with the same student.
If only things could be so simple with some parents.
Today, I received a phone call from a parent who wants to have a picture book banned from the school library. The author in question is a well-known and well recognized author who writes about such themes as overcoming hardships and appreciating the differences in people.
Truly, I wanted to default to what I used to say to my obviously more mature former middle school students but I feared another a phone call from the superintendent. I tried to be understanding and just listen. Basically, it all boiled down to this…
The book made her son sad.
Yes, that’s right. There is no nudity or implied sex scenes. There are no profanities. There isn’t even a fight scene.
Dang it. I’m thinking of suggesting Old Yeller as a read aloud for her son’s class.

56 comments:

NSGIRL said...

Lol...obvioulsy she doesn't think her son is going to experience real life ever!

Midwest Mommy said...

Wow, are you kidding me. I remember bawling with my entire fifth grade class as my teacher read Where the Red Fern Grows. Even my teacher cried. Suck it up mom, it's good for him!

Nancy said...

It's too bad you couldn't tell Mama, "suck it up buttercup!" Jeeez.

only a movie said...

More fuel for my stance: I would rather have a classroom of the most effed up kids on the planet than have to deal with some of the parents you deal with.
You could give me her phone number. I'm sure I could fix up an appropriate response. Sad? Pulleeeeze.
I don't know how you do it, Ms. Beth.

Not The Rockefellers said...

Oh yes...the parents
sounds like the poor kid needs to play in the mud more :)

Mom too!

Peace ~ Rene

Fragrant Liar said...

Out of the dark ages rides a parent . . .

Geez, I don't know how you keep a straight face.

Wait. Did you keep a straight face?

Masala Chica said...

some of the best childrens' books make me a little sad. "Someday" by Alison McGhee, "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein, "The Lorax" by Dr. Seuss.

That kid is going to grow up to be a wuss with a mommy like that.

wait till he reads harry potter book 6. He'll get committed.
kiran

Matty said...

That parent needs to be told the facts of life. We don't always get what we want. Just because ONE parent wants a book removed shouldn't be cause for removing it. I would not make a good education administrator, because I would tell parents what they need to hear.

otin said...

There was one "Asshole" in this post, and it was not the son! :)

Jane Lively said...

My daughter volunteered to sell her copy of The Giving Tree in a yard sale because it makes me sad! Like a weeping puddled of boo-hoo. How on earth did you respond to that parent?

Brian Miller said...

this is the perfect time for you and your son to have a great talk about the things that make you sad and how to handle it. oh wait, that would require you to actually talk to your child...sorry that wont work.

yep, thats what i would say...

and probably get fired...

Kristina P. said...

Ban that book! That is a huge travesty! We sould not make kids read books that make them sad, upset, think, ponder, or question.

Jeff D'Antonio said...

What Brian said. I've come dangerously close to saying stuff that would get me fired on several occasions when dealing with stupid parents.

sun lover said...

I dare you to suggest Old Yeller....Oh boy that would be to funny! :)

d. moll, l.ac. said...

But if you removed that book out of the library then you would be sad and, consequently, would have to put it back.

Nancy@ifevolutionworks.com said...

I feel for you. I despise dealing with parents! I'm really active in the school's PTO and I can't believe the nonsense that gets pointed out, given attention and voted on.

The "sad" thing is absurd.

SheilaC said...

I have only recently found your blog and I wanted to thank you for making me laugh about my job everyday. (Teacher's aide for students in middle school with behavior problems, sound familiar?)

I have been doing the job 10+ years and always avoided getting my certification to teach because I was worried I would scream at the parents. NOT the kids, the parents.

THX

Sheila

Paula said...

Sad? I think elementary school is another opportunity for parents to revisit their childhoods - and somehow get it right this time. I think the parental unit is projecting. Keep that stick handy, sad can go to pissed-off real fast.

sherri said...

what brian said.

Herding Cats said...

I don't know how you administrators do it....tough job. It is a lot easier telling a kid to grow up, toughen up, and gain some perspective. Some parents are so unreasonable!

Mrsbear said...

I'm just trying to figure out at what point it seemed like a good idea to this mom to contact you.

Sadness is dangerous, it's one of those gateway emotions that leads to all types of sordid feelings down the road - joy, rage, sorrow - the list goes on and on.

bernthis said...

you see that guy will end up on a online dating site and want to go out with women like me. What a nightmare waiting to happen.

She Writes said...

What kind of school allows children to feel sad?! Just kidding :).

mo.stoneskin said...

Maybe you should hit her round the head with a copy of the book (hardcover) and knock some sense into her.

Or would that get you sent to the principal's office?

Christine Gram said...

Sounds like a desperate attempt to avoid any opportunity for parenting. Maybe you could point that out... give some pointers for talking points. She does talk to her son, right?

My 4th grade read aloud was "Where the Red Fern Grows."

My name is PJ. said...

Bambi might be a good 'training' manual before 'Old Yeller'.

Maybe the parent was lonely and just wanted to hear herself talk. ;)

lisa said...

What a nutball! I'm thinking we write a Teacher's Guide to Parenting. It'd be a bestseller.

Michele said...

What some parents won't do to shield their kids from any unhappiness. She (of anyone) should no better. Unhappiness, like all emotions, is just a part of life. Deal with it!

Jan said...

Again, I could NOT do your job. The minute she said she wanted a book banned - ANY book banned, for ANY reason - I'd have told her to pull her head out of her ass, hop back into her time machine and toddle back to the middle ages. Oh, and wrap that kid up in bubble wrap and make sure he lives in total isolation while she's at it - we wouldn't want him to be all sad and dysfunctional or anything.

Sarah said...

Oh my goodness. This sounds so familiar. I am a teacher (who is currently on maternity leave). High School. You are so right - many of the parents are so crazier than the students. And I am not at all shocked at that parent's request. Some people are so entitled.
Found you through Masala Chica's blog!

Funny Girl said...

Go with Old Yeller and Of Mice and Men in the same month; that will put her in the mental institution she belongs in.

K13 said...

Oh geesh...people will ALWAYS find something to complain about huh?

TechnoBabe said...

This is where we parents part company, I am floored by the way some of the generation after mine have chosen to raise their children, my own children as well. Was there a book or a class in school that I wasn't aware my children were taking? My daughter and I speak Greek and Italian it feels like when we speak of raising children. All her peers are the same. Protect the children to the point they do not know reality. Do not let a baby cry at all. Ever. Do not say no to a toddler. The children are the rulers of the family. My daughter was not raised that way and she says she is happy with how I raised her. But she has her own ideas about how to raise her children and was surprised that I could not be around them much. I like Lisa's idea about the book. Please write it and it will sell out.

suzicate said...

Old Yeller, ha...you'll surely be sitting in on family counseling sessions with them!

dana said...

That mom needs to experience some of life's more invincible problems herself and "sadness" won't be such a waterloo for her fragile emotions.

Captain Dumbass said...

Invite her in and then whack her over the head with it.

Optimistic Pessimist said...

what do you think people are going to be like 30 years from now? seriously isn't being sad from time to time a good thing? it helps me to appreciate being happy.

followthatdog said...

heaven forbid her child ever learn to cope with emotions or develop empathy for others. I guess in her world everyone would be happy all the time, there would be no inequity, there would be no news, no political partisan antics, no recession, no...wait, her world is starting to sound pretty good right now.

Aunt Juicebox said...

I'd like to ban stupid people. Can we do that?

Sprite's Keeper said...

Such high and mighty "do as I say" attitudes make me sad too. Can you ban HER?

gayle said...

I really don't know how you do it!! or how the teachers do it!! I am a teacher assistant and the parents drive me crazy ...good thing I don't have to deal with them as much as you do. I would probably tell them off. I have noticed that parents are a lot different now than 20 years ago.

Mr. Knucklehead said...

God forbid that a book evoke an, I dunno, emotion.

Just have the mom go buy the kid another happy-happy-joy-joy violent video game.

Wonderful World of Weiners said...

There are NO damns, shits OR sex? Who wants to read it anyway??

Hallie :)

Deb said...

I would recommend that her son's teacher read 'Where the Red Fern Grows' - now that always gets a tear or two. Chin up - it is almost, sort of February vacation time.

Debbie said...

Every year it seems some parent tries to get a book banned around here. I wish these folks had real issues to deal with:)

Smart Mouth Broad said...

Crap like this makes me want to rant like my Grandpa, "That's what's wrong with the world today!". LOL

Anonymous said...

I inclination not acquiesce in on it. I over warm-hearted post. Especially the designation attracted me to review the intact story.

Maureen@IslandRoar said...

My goodness, God forbid her kid be sad! If he's never sad, how will he ever know when he's happy. Some of the most beautiful books and films are absolutely heartbreaking. I hate when people say they won't see/read a certain thing cuz they heard it's "so sad." Way to cut out some really great stuff in life.
You sound like such an awesome principal!

lakeviewer said...

And we thought administrators just pushed papers around!

Ms. D said...

Just wait til he picks up the newspaper! Loved it!

distresseddamsel said...

What the? Some stories that are meant to teach a serious and dismal lesson about life have to have such effect, which means the author is a damn good one because her story hit the spot. I don't know how to categorize the mom: overprotective or too narrow minded? Or both?

Chief said...

i am in charge of our library at the school. I get so tired of the censors coming in ever week so proud that they found a swear.

Until a mom brought in a book with a full frontal nudity pic in it.

woops!

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Joanna Jenkins said...

Jeez, I'm surprise that mom lets her son out of his bubble long enough to go to school.

That's crazy!

Hope you have a great weekend.

xo

ArtSnark said...

amazing...

You must have so much patience! I'd have a really hard time biting my tongue

Anonymous said...

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