Kids say the darnest thing sometimes. I often wish that I have written down every interesting thing that kids said to me. Those words along with each and every incident happened may seem trivial to you readers, but they are really priceless in my view and it is great fun to recall some of those incidents. JZ is one of those students who I will never forget.
JZ was a natural performer who possessed excellent articulation skills. He was so full of “street smart” that you couldn’t tell that he was a child with learning difficulty. It took some skills to motivate this child to tap into his academic potentials because he pretty much believed that he was good at nothing at school. I was in touch with JZ’s parents soon after the first few weeks of school. His parents, as well as JZ’s grandmother, aunt and uncle who were taking care of him after school, were really on board to support me. We kept close contact with each other on the daily basis.
JZ often told me in class that he had done his best and there was simply nothing more he could do. Sometimes, trying to motivate him could simply become another power struggle between him and me. In fact, for children like JZ, he himself was really his own worst enemy because he believed that he couldn’t do anything right, refused to nothing more and then simply gave up. JZ might not be confident about his academic performance but he actually thought quite highly of himself.
JZ had many friends and he was very friendly to all his classmates. In fact, he was a great leader and quite willing to defend his friends when something was up. Friendship was such an important part of his school life. The only problem was that JZ was involved in the wrong crowds sometimes. So, when something did not work out between JZ and his friends, we certainly could hear about it and see it on JZ’s face right away.
One day, JZ had some run-ins with his up-to-no-good pals outside. When the class came in, almost everyone rushed to tell me about how JZ got into the argument with the other students. To be honest, the argument was really the secondary problem of my story. The main problem was JZ came in with a chip on his shoulder and already showed me his big attitude before I even got to him.
I asked JZ if he would like to talk to me so I could help him solve his problem. He told me to go away and leave him alone. I would have done that except that he refused to come into the classroom. I certainly could not just leave him outside by himself. So, I told him that we could find a way to solve any conflict between him and his friends. He apparently was the one who initiated the problem, so his guilt was finally getting to him and making him really angry. His embarrassment had turned into anger which was then directed to anyone who came to his way and I happened to be the one!
JZ was so stubborn and refused to budge. He then threatened me that if I did not leave him alone, he would call his dad to beat me up. He claimed his uncle was a Tae Kwan Do champion and a Kung Fu master. He had won so many championships and he could just crush me. Then he told me that his dad was really strong and he would call his dad to beat me up after school.
Well, well, well. I listened to him go on and on about how powerful his uncle was and how he would tell his dad to come beat me up after school in his “street smart” voice. I finally said, “JZ, you have made a mistake outside but it was an easy problem to solve. Now you are just creating another big problem for yourself. So, you think that your dad is very strong, eh? You want him to beat me up after school? Huh? Well, why wait till after school? Why not now? Let’s solve this problem once and for all. You can go call him right now. Hey, in fact, I’ve got my phone right here. Call him. Call! You tell him to come over right now! I would like to see him as soon as possible!” While I was making the statements, I took my cell phone out of my pocket and pushed it towards JZ. I signaled him to make the phone call immediately.
You would not believe the look on this 8 year old boy’s face when I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket. He was so shocked to see how I reacted to his threat. I guess he did not expect me to stick my phone into his face. In fact, he did not know what to do and how to react to that. After a long pause, I said to him, “Boy, now you have two options and you think carefully to make a good decision. You can call your dad right now to come over to beat me up. I would be very happy to see him. Or, you can walk quietly into the classroom and we will deal with the issue later. It’s your call now.”
JZ walked quietly into the classroom with his head down. After the long discussion with the class and a few apologies to his friends, JZ was back to his usual self 45 minutes later. Somehow, he forgot about everything that had happened an hour ago. Children forget this type of conflicts quite easily and quickly.
Of course, I had a chat with his mom, his grandma, aunt and his father later on that day. We had a big laugh and got a kick out of it. It was priceless to see the speechless look on JZ’s face. I really adore that boy. He later went to a special school for more individual support. JZ will always have a special spot in my heart, the boy who claimed his father was strong enough to beat me up.
Post Note: I don’t usually carry my cell phone in my pocket at school. I just happened to have it that day. It was pure coincidence. JZ’s parents were separated. His dad was kind of embarrassed later on when he heard what JZ had said to me.