Sunday, May 4, 2008

Looking Back

I was just over at Regurgitated Alphabets and now I'm eating a bit of humble pie. If you want to know more, go read her posts about Joe C. Anyway, she has set me thinking, remembering.

Ya'll know I'm a teacher. People who watch me work with these kids say I have so much patience. I remember back to when I lost my patience completely. (I'll save my rant about the "p" word for another post.)

I remember the year I fired one of my employers. Actually one of Sugar's employers since she was the one teaching the two little boys. Sugar is a really good teacher. She has a heart for the kids and a knack for reading right through their little games.

So she gets this little kid in for his first lesson and he doesn't want to do what she asks and says "I'll throw up." She looks at him and says "Fine, just be aware that after you throw up you will be cleaning it up because neither your mother or I will do that for you." The kid decided not to throw up after all.

Then a few weeks later she was sick and I got the kid. She had told me about his little power play and I was ready. The kid gets angry at one point in his lesson and starts slamming his violin around. Now, you don't abuse violins in my presence. I don't take it kindly. So I took it out of his hands and told him very firmly that he would not behave like that. I really don't remember a lot of what went on after that but the kid was behaving badly and his mother took him out of the room for a bit of hands on persuasion then brought him back and told him to apologize to me. Well he didn't want to do that. So I ended up on my knees in front of him with my arms over his shoulders just so he couldn't disappear. He finally spat out "I'm sorry." and I said "No you're not. I can't accept that apology." I ended up telling him that I loved him too much let him behave so badly. By the time the lesson was over, he had broken and cried, then apologized and I had hugged him and assured him he was forgiven.

The next week Sugar asked me what I had done to him because he was a changed boy.

We worked with him and his brother for several years, trying to help them overcome their anger issues. This was all well and good and they really did make good progress. Problem was, we couldn't completely counteract the influence of their parents.

During the years we taught them, Sugar went off for three months of training and I had all her students as well as my own. Once during that three months the mother went completely off on me. When I went home that day I thought she had quit and I'd never have to deal with her again and honestly, I wasn't unhappy about that. I spoke with Sugar on the phone and she begged me to not pitch them, that the boys needed us and so we had to put up with the mother. I came to understand that about once a month this mother would go off on Sugar, leaving her bawling her tender little heart out.

So Sugar came back from her training and resumed her teaching schedule, including these two boys. Again the mother went off on her one evening and she came home bawling her eyes out. I'd had enough. I told her she couldn't teach these boys any more. I called our music director and asked her to phone this mother and let her know that we would not be teaching them any more. The momma gets the phone call, calls me, I stand firm, tell her she's made Sugar cry for the last time, Sugar cries some more. She has finally reached the point that she doesn't want to take them back either. That night I had to take Kiddo to a recital that his teacher is playing on (making it required). Sugar has been crying and doesn't feel like going out publicly so reluctantly I leave her home alone. Fast forward to 11 PM. I am coming up my rural driveway and see headlights coming out. Think I panicked? You bet your booties I did. The oncoming vehicle pulls even with me and stops, guess who? The mother says she was just talking to Sugar and doesn't seem at all upset. My blood pressure is off the charts by now. I practically pull into the front yard and race into the house. My daughter is near fetal position on the floor and has obviously been crying for hours!

The next day the mother phones me and spends hours, using every argument in the book to try and get us to take them back. She is obviously accustomed to getting her way. She hasn't reckoned with me though. You can usually push me pretty far. I'm a bit of a pussy. BUT... There comes a point where I not only won't be pushed any farther, but I will push off in a direction you don't expect.

So, the time came when I had been pushed too far. It is possible I would have let them come back if the woman hadn't come out to the house and battered my daughter for hours while I was off with her brother. Don't mess with my babies.

I feel bad for the kids. I know that we were an influence for good in their lives. Maybe, though, the mother needed that lesson. Maybe that lesson will somehow filter down to the boys and they will be better for it.

OK so there wasn't much humor in this once you get past the kid threatening to throw up, but that at least is still as funny to me as it was the first time Sugar told me about it.


Edna Lee said...

Now that mom was out of control! What nerve she has showing up at your home when you're not there to confront your child! You had every right to end your association with her. I would have too.

It is difficult when you see that the biggest problem some kids have is their parent. That student, for example had learned the value of going to extreme lengths to get what he wants, just as his mother does. We can only hope the child doesn't follow his parent's lead forever.

Wamblings said...

You are right, she was completely out of control. She was one of those who exploded all over you and she felt better afterwards and couldn't understand why you needed to lick your wounds. The next year Sugar ran into them at a Music Camp. Seemingly the mother hadn't told the kids the real reason we dropped them so the older one took all week to warm up to Sugar which in turn made her feel bad all over again. I ran into the mother a few years later in a Walmart and she was all friendly, like nothing had happened. Whatever.

Sugar must have been about 20 at the time of the incident. I was still having to chauffeur her little brother around and she was still living at home.

jennifer said...

Part of what you said brought back some memories best left for another day. I just can't imagine the fear that you felt seeing her pull out of your driveway.

You know, I'm glad that you clarified who Sugar was. I was thinking that she was some one else significant in your life.

How cool that you and your daughter have talents in common. And you work at the same place?

Hope you have a good evening.


Wamblings said...

Jen, I have this funny thing about privacy. Here I am spilling my guts all over the internet in various blogs but none of them have my legal name attached to them. So for future reference, my daughter is Sugar, my son is Kiddo. Those are their real nicknames but I don't think anyone could find them by googling those names.

jennifer said...

I hear you. I have Diva Daughter, 12 Year Old Daughter, and Little Man, all of whom make me proud and drive me crazy every day of my life!!


Wamblings said...

*giggles* I had kind of guessed that "Diva" wasn't really her name. *grins* Yep, we have to protect the innocent and the not so innocent.