But at my daughter's school, sitting inside and doing quiet things at recess is forbidden. Wouldn't want to miss out on any of that precious shuffling time, would we? You know what else is forbidden? Bringing a book outside with you at recess.
Teenagers can't be trusted with books. They might injure themselves or other people with them. They might drop them in the snow an inch outside the safety circle where the fact that none of them are wearing snow pants means it'll be lost to them forever.
It's not just books, though. Notebooks, video games, fidget spinners, cellphones ... all banned. Fine. I can see why some of those aren't allowed, and I'll respect those rules. But the day she gets sent home for smuggling a contraband copy of Pride And Prejudice And Zombies into the playground under her flowing blue muumuu will be one of the happiest days of my life.
"What do I do when someone tries to grab my breasts?" my daughter asks. "Like, not actually grab them. Because of the no-touching rule. He just leans over the table during group time, puts his fingers really, really close near by breasts in class when the teacher's not looking, and pretends to honk them."
This is a parent's nightmare, regardless of the sex of the child, because your first instinct is to tell them, "Remember the Nazi punch I taught you last week? We're going to slightly modify the stance for this one." The other part is telling you, "OK, this is where I teach them about how to speak to adults about serious situations like this."
What resulted in real life was a mixture of the two, and it went something like this:
"Slap his hand away and tell him to leave you the hell alone and stop being such a dumbass, or you'll kick him in the balls," I said, imparting the wisdom that has been passed down since the first tribal medicine woman drew detailed instructions on the cave wall on how to cause maximum pain for a man's nether regions.
"I'll get suspended for that," she said.
"For what? For slapping his hand away or threatening to kick him in the nutsack?"
"Both," she said miserably. "Katniss got suspended for kneeing Braxton. And Elsa was expelled for threatening to hurt Olaf."
"Hang on. First, why are the kids named that? Second, how is threatening to hurt someone worse than actually hurting them?"
"She held up a plastic knife on a field trip and threatened to cut his balls off with it."
"OK fine, then tell a teacher," I said, fully confident that if I flailed long enough, I'd hit the right answer. "Walk right up to the teacher and tell them exactly what he did."
"I can't do that! If I do that, I have to give up lunch to sit through guided mediation in the Caring and Sharing Room! I'll have to explain to him and two teachers how his pretending to touch my breasts makes me feel. And then he gets to explain how that makes him feel. And then the teachers talk about how they feel. And then we go over it again and again and again until I give up and sign a piece of paper saying it's resolved. And then he'll be right back in the Caring and Sharing Room again tomorrow with some other girl because it has snacks and beats walking in a circle beside the snow."
Look, I definitely want her to resolve this thing with actual adults who know how to handle it without violence. I want both her and that little shithead to come out of it learning something positive. But I'm telling you right now that if the teachers, myself, and the kid's parents can't solve the situation, I'm absolutely fine with her busting out a spin-kick as a last resort.
Mags Storey is incredibly thankful to all the incredibly hard-working teachers and educators, who didn't make the stupid rules they're stuck enforcing. Mags also writes books about murder and kissing, and likes to be bothered by strangers on Twitter.
Use these to communicate with your child during their vigilante schoolyard mission. Let "baby bird" know when she needs to "return to the nest."
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