Imagine my surprise when I noticed a well-behaved girl in Monday’s class was not in her seat, but tucked neatly inside her cubby as she whimpered in the fetal position. The cubby area was in the back of the room, and there she was, trying to hide her face as she cried.
I tried to encourage her to come out, but she refused. “They are lying about me!” she sobbed. The other children at her table were busy working on the coloring sheet their teacher had left for them. I asked them what was wrong with the cubby crier.
“She said the s-word,” one of the boys said solemnly.
With that, the girl lunged out of her cubby, wailed loudly that she was being falsely accused.
I got her to calm down, and made a general announcement that no one should use “that kind of language” in class and reminded them all to use polite words. I hadn’t expressed whether or not I believed she had cursed, so I thought that would settle the matter on all fronts.
Wrong. The other kids at her table wanted to continue talking about exactly what she said. Before I could cut one of the boys off, he quoted her exact words: “She said that the picture looks stupid!”
There were loud gasps and a chorus of “ooooh, you’re not supposed to say that!” across the room. I almost laughed, relieved that I clearly had mistaken which s-word was the cause of the whole controversy.
I quieted the class, made sure my crier was back in her seat coloring without using “unkind words,” and told the rest of her group to leave her alone.