Thursday, March 17, 2011


One of my students informed me yesterday morning that he needed to consume chocolate in order to treat an illness that his doctor had diagnosed the previous afternoon. This student (let's call him "Billy" to protect the not-so-innocent) proceeded to produce from his jacket pocket a one pound bar of milk chocolate with some kind of mocha filling that I really wanted to confiscate and eat. Billy blithely began to unwrap his doctor-sanctioned snack, but - responsibly following the same protocol I would for a student attempting to take a painkiller, inhaler, or some other medication for which I have not been given documentation by the school nurse - I informed him that he would need to check in with the school nurse before I allowed him to consume any medication.

I took the chocolate bar. He protested briefly, but when I told him I would be happy to check in with the nurse to verify his needs, he only muttered into the collar of his jacket and scuffled away.

Now, Batman, one of the most useful side-effects of being a teacher is the adaptation of a pretty stellar bullshit detector. I don't always call a kid out on it right away (which, admittedly, is greatly due to the fact that I just love creating an escalating sense of drama before a kid gets his or her comeuppance). Billy, for example, only tasted my wrath a few hours later, after the following events played out:
  1. I reported him to the school nurse, expressing a healthy blend of concern for a child in such a perilous medical condition and bemused skepticism of his honesty.
  2. She called Billy's mother. Billy's mother rarely answers the phone, so it was somewhat magical happenstance that she picked up at all.
  3. Billy's mother used some very choice language to express her opinion of her son's choice to lie bold-faced to his teachers in order to simply eat chocolate, confirming my theory that her kid was utterly full of it.
  4. The school nurse reported back to me, and I crafted the most guilt-inducing condemnation I could possibly cram into a twelve-year-old's ears. 
  5. I lay in wait until Billy traipsed back into my room, blithely requesting that I return his medicinal chocolate.
  6. I lovingly and with an expression that firmly stated "this hurts me, too" tore Billy a new one.
This is where I am a Viking. In a public school, protocol dictates that any time something medical is brought up and full, official documentation is lacking, the teacher must exercise proper due diligence before allowing a student to ingest, apply, insert, or otherwise use any medical item. When I know a kid is full of shit, this is no burden. In fact, while the school nurse was likely less-than-thrilled to contact Billy's less-than-comported mother, I nearly took pleasure from this endeavor.

My point, Batman, is that if you're ever going to lie, make it believable! One of Billy's friends who I will call "Stevie" pulled a good one on me today by telling me that he had to go to the nurse to have a "rash" looked at. Worried for the sanitation of my classroom, I asked him if he'd touched anything in the room that morning to which he could have an allergic reaction.

"Not with the part of my body where the rash is," he told me, averting his eyes to the floor. Of course I let him go to the nurse, and when I found out that his "trip to the nurse" was really a trip to the athletic office to beg a football off one of the coaches for him to play with at recess...gosh darn it, I was so impressed that I let it slide.

1 comment:

  1. 1. I feel like some sort of Dementors comment must be made regarding the medical application of chocolate, but seriously, Billy, there is a time and a place. NOT in Ms. K's classroom. (or should I just start saying Mrs. G's classroom? )

    2. You're terrifying. I am really glad I'm not a 7th grader, even if I was one of the good ones.