Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday, lovely Friday

I'd just returned from an errand with one of my first graders when the Intern* sent another student over to me. "I'm not sure the right way to handle this" she said.

The student looked up at me with his big tattle-tale eyes (if you teach you know EXACTLY the eyes I'm talking about- the deep concern for somebody else's business) and said, "A. said a bad word!"

Ok, in first grade bad words can range from anything as innocent as butt, dumb, stupid, fart or hell, or can be of the fun 4 letter variety. I smiled at our tattle tale and said, "Really? Whisper in my ear what he said." (I've learned that it's ok to do this because 9 times out of 10 the teller whispers "booger".)

This time the tattle tale's eyes got even bigger. "It's the F word" he whispered, not about to say it himself.

The intern and I looked at each other. A. is typically an angel. He gets along with everyone, he always does what's asked of him, he never shows frustration, and never even tattles on other kids. However, he does have a serious speech impediment, which makes it difficult to understand a word he says. Clearly, the intern and I decided in the non-verbal conversation exchanged through glances, the tattle-tale had just misheard A. It's happened before with other kids.

So, we sent the tattle tale away and called A over to figure out if he really lost it and cursed at his friends, or if he was really just trying to say "truck".

"I didn't say anything bad!" A. exclaimed as he came over toward us.
"All I said was F***"

Nope, there was no question- the tattler had heard correctly. F***

18 first grade heads snapped up from writing workshop and stared at us. The intern opened a nearby closet where she could stick her head so no one could see her laughing and I hauled A into the hallway, with a paper covering my mouth so he couldn't see me laughing.

"I just said F***!" he repeated, loudly. I slammed the door to the classroom, hoping none of our curious friends heard the word, yet again.

"But A, why would you say that?" I asked, honestly confused.

"Because I was singing my song. You know, F***, F***, Dragon-Ball Z, F***, F***, F***"

I silently sent a thankful prayer that no one is in the hallway right now to hear this beautiful, rhythmic verse.

"Where did you hear that?" I asked, still confused why F*** and Dragon-Ball Z are in the same sentence.

"From my Dragon-Ball Z video game" A. answered, clearly confused on why I'm confused.

"Is it... a song about frogs?" I asked

"No, it's about f***"

deep breath

I quietly explained to A that although I understood that he didn't mean to say a bad word, it sounded just like a very, very bad word we don't say in school, so let's not sing that song anymore.

His eyes filled with tears as he nodded his head, not even about to argue with me. I sent him to get water and to take a deep breath so he wouldn't get too upset.

F*** I wondered, what on earth could he think he was singing? He has a fairly severe auditory processing disorder, which means who knows what the song actually was saying.

When I re-entered the classroom everyone was quietly writing away on their instructions- how to draw a car, how to make hot chocolate, and how to make an ice cream cone.

I bent over one child diligently working and asked, "Wow, you're really working hard. What are you writing about?"

She beamed up at me, and proudly exclaimed, "How to make a baby!"

After our previous incident I wasn't taking any chances. Who knows, maybe the F*** conversation became her muse and she decided to write about it.

"Hmmmm.... let's have our writers' conference in the hall today, ok?" I asked, as if it was completely normal to conference in the hallway.

Once we were away from prying ears I finally asked, "Ok, so, tell me, what's the first step?" bracing myself to quickly cut her off and say, "Ok, you know what, we're not going to write about that in first grade."

"Oh, you know, draw a big circle for the head"

Draw a baby. Draw a baby.

Teaching point during the conference: Writing clear titles.

A quick google search of Dragon-Ball Z lyrics showed that most of their songs are in Japanese, so who knows what our friend was hearing anyway. One song has 1 English line that says something like "Fight, Fair Fight" or something like that. Maybe...

I will say, the speech pathologist was ridiculously excited to hear this story, as she has been working very hard getting him to clearly produce the /f/ sound. Let me tell you, she has successfully done her job.

**Oh Friday, how I love you**

*Student teachers at my school are called interns.


Kirsten said...

Yep, she has definitely gotten that sound in there. Now for better things behind it.

Blink said...

I think it's a little sad first graders hear that word enough they already know it's a really bad word.
Your teaching shows there is always an explanation for things, too.