Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Pinch to Grow an Inch Has Apparently Been Outlawed

1:42 pm and the phone rang.  I glanced at the caller ID and I recognized the elementary school's prefix.  School would be over in 33 minutes.  Which kid needed what before the last bell?

"Hello, Mrs. Denton.  This is Ms. M., the principal.  I've had little Micah here in my office for the last little while, and I wanted you to know what's been going on."

In the few seconds before her next breath, my mind flew from one thing to the next--What could it be?  Was Micah hurt?  Had he been in a fight?  What was it? I didn't have long to wait . . .

"Micah's class was lined up at the cafeteria door, waiting to practice their play, when Micah pinched a little girl in the line."

Are you completely serious, my mind flashed.  Really?  A pinch?  That's why he had been in the office all afternoon?  A PINCH?  Rational thought trumped my initial reaction of "So what's the big deal?" and instead I replied, "Oh."  How was that for a profound response?

"Micah told me another little boy told him to pinch the little girl, so we had a talk about doing things other kids tell us to do.  He is currently writing a note of apology to the little girl.  I know that he will come home and discuss these events with you and I know you will follow up with him."

Still, all my mind could ricochet around was the single word PINCH, bouncing from "This can't be really why he's in the office," to "Isn't there a vehicle careening towards unsuspecting kindergartners  that you need to stop?" to "You have to be kidding me!" to "How am I going to parent the rest of my kiddos if I can't pinch them on occasion?" to "SERIOUSLY?"

I responded with a mild, "Okay," and hung up the phone.

Then I started seething. SEETHING.

Thirty minutes later, Micah timidly opened the back door, slunk to my side, wrapped his arm around my shoulder, and started to cry. I asked him what had happened.  His side of the story:  a little boy pinched him and told him to pinch L, a girl Micah has known every day of his life.  So Micah pinched her.  Sounds like there was some kind of "pass the pinch" game going on, nothing malicious or out of the ordinary for second graders.  Both boys were sent to the principal, but the other boy was sent back to class after ten minutes or so because he denied pinching Micah at all, and since there were no witnesses, he was allowed to leave.  Micah, on the other hand, was required to stay with the principal for 75 minutes, and he was not allowed to return to his class.

Seventy-five minutes with the principal for a PINCH? A PINCH???  Not a punch, a pinch.  A pinch that left a red mark.  Ooh.  How devastating.

What made things even worse was that Micah didn't understand what he'd done that was so wrong.  (Neither do I, for that matter.)  I agree with the principal on writing notes of apology.  I've made my own kids write them for much worse offenses (like almost getting the neighbor's dog killed), and a note was fitting for the pinching offense.  But really?  Involve the principal about a PINCH?

I called his teacher and asked her perspective.  Miss H hadn't seen the incident, but she was responsible for Micah's trip to the big house.  She's young (26 and darling and the best teacher), so maybe she jumped to a quick decision, I don't know. She said she would talk to Micah tomorrow.  She has been fantastic with Micah all year, and I know she really loves him and will try to say the right things to help him feel better.

I then called the principal and left her a voicemail stating that the punishment extended to Micah was excessive and he came home upset with no clear lesson learned from his behavior. He was confused about why his punishment was many times worse than the little boy who actually LIED his way out. I concluded my message with "I'm sure L will have forgotten completely about the pinch before she even gets home from school.  Micah, however, won't be forgetting or understanding what happened for a while."

What did the principal discuss with Micah for 75 minutes?  HE'S SEVEN YEARS OLD.  SEVEN.  The longer I think about it the madder I get.  What did he learn?  You're punished more severely when you tell the truth?  Or punishment only occurs when there are witnesses? 

I better stop there before I get sent to the principal's office for exercising too much free speech.

What's your opinion of the Great Pinch Caper of 2012?  Great way to end a school year, don't you think?


  1. I had to tell my husband about this because I was angry FOR you! That's just about the most ridiculous overreaction I've heard about in a while! I agree that perhaps he shouldn't have pinched the little girl and that an apology note may have been in order since she didn't know that she was a part of this "game." However, 75 minutes is insane! A general rule of "timeout" is a minute per year of age. Once you get past that, you're not teaching the child anything, you're doing it to feel like you're doing something. A principal should know enough about children to know that that child should not have been "disciplined" that way. It sounds like maybe there's a reason that this principal is no longer a teacher? I hope that she realizes the error of her ways and finds a way to make amends with Micah. My husband commented that he was sent to the principal's office at about that age, only because he supposedly witnessed something, and he STILL remembers the visit but not actually anything ABOUT the visit. Micah will probably remember this forever, but he may not ever understand WHY he was there, and that's not excusable for that principal. Good luck with the situation. I have to say, you're probably handling it better than I would!

  2. Wow! Just wow! The Momma in me got angry as I read this too. Poor Micah. At least he has an understanding Mom to wrap his arms around.

    Here's what I think...our school system has gotten a little out of balance. I know at my sons' school they have a very strict 'no bullying' policy. But, I think what happens sometimes then is that common sense gets thrown out the window and small little things that our young CHILDREN do are blown way out of proportion into some kind of major infraction.

    I'm really curious to hear what feedback you get from the principal after she gets your message. Maybe she should write Micah a note of apology!

  3. I can't tell you how much I admire the fact that you called the teacher and left a note with the principal. I would have been steaming mad too about the situation...but I don't always have the gusto to stand up for those kind of things...and then I get so mad at myself! It's absolutely ridiculous that Micah was sent to the principal. Definitely seems like a situation the teacher could have handled immediately and then moved on. And 75 minutes is a long time to be out of the classroom...especially in kindergarten when they're usually only in school a couple of hours. I hope Micah is able to brush this off...and forget about it. Brady was sent to the guidance counselor in kindergarten because at recess he slapped a girls behind while playing a game of tag. He was talked to about "personal" space....he had no idea what he did was wrong. He was only embarrassed that he had to go sit in the office. Anyway, good for you for calling and giving them a piece of yor mind!

  4. Not a note...I meant a message!

  5. Obviously he didn't learn anything from the discipline and isn't that the heart of the matter??? Educators love to talk...but I don't think kids understand half off what the hear!!

    I sooo would have done the same thing. Punish my kid, fine. But make sure it fits the crime!

    Can't wait to hear what the principal said!

  6. I agree wholeheartedly with your response to all this. We are having similar issues at our school. The principal recently instituted a "no touching" policy. Apparently two boys were rough-housing and one broke his nose so that meant that any child who touched another would be suspended. Really?! My girls were totally confused and irritated when they got home. And my friends with younger children were terrified. Sisters were afraid to walk to school holding hands like they had done every day their whole lives. It's simply ridiculous. I understand we want to keep our kids safe but things have become so heavy-handed it's silly. I'm sorry your poor little Micah was the latest victim!

  7. I LOVE our school but the discipline is rediculous. Hunter spent the afternoon in th e Principles office for demeaning another little boy by saying, during a basketball game, "You play like a girl!" Yes, he learned that terrible phrase from his mother who often times demeans her own boys with such slamming remarks. The horror of these naughty children.

  8. I always wonder what's going on in their minds

    i had a similar incident

    (and for the record i cringe when i see the school id show up haha)

    2nd child was getting 'free' lunches at school. he wasn't taking his lunch everyday and instead was getting the grilled cheese sandwich

    they 'LUNCH MONITORS' stopped him one day and he got in trouble.

    they called to inform me how i was neglecting my child by not sending a lunch and abusing the system.

    I was sooo angry that they would imply that


    in all honesty i didn't fault him one bit....innocence of him said

    "MOM it says 'free' lunch if you don't have a lunch....so that's exactly what i did....got a free lunch"

    so there i gave him a hug! sweet innocence...how long will that last?

    then i had to explain to him why there was 'actually' free lunch and about the program...

    still the school made us pay for the 8 free sandwiches he took.....$.35 total....REALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 35 CENTS AND A DEMEANING PHONE CALL

  9. I am glad you left the principal a voice message.

    I am eager to hear how/if she responds. All I learned from this is to teach my kids to lie to authority when there is no proof so you can save yourself. Great lesson, right?


  10. I've been dealing with the same thing here with my nine year old son. (Hi! I'm a reader in Missouri named Ashley!) Caden has lost all remaining recess for the year because he allegedly called another boy (who is ALWAYS tattling for one thing or another) a "fat hippo". Like you, my response was "Seriously?" They're nine year old boys! (Neither one of which is actually overweight, whick would make it a completely different story) I am so frustrated, and get this! I emailed his teacher about it and in her return email she said "Consequences are designed to teach children the connection between behaviour and outcomes....We do not do our children any favors by letting them get away with bad behavior....It's best to address it when they are young than to let them grow up thinking they can get away with anything." SERIOUSLY?! She's training me in the art of discipline! Like I'm not raising five kids right now, thanks!
    SO. CRAZY.
    Yes, I feel your pain.
    And LOVE your blog!!

  11. The 75 minutes is what would have bothered me. If the Principal HAD to call him in, it should have been just a brief few words to both boys about not pinching people and then back to class. But I would have been furious like you that he had your son captive for 75 minutes. To a 7 year old that is like ALL DAY!I would want to know just what she said to him all that time.

  12. There's only one word for what happened to Micah: RIDICULOUS. I really do think that if I had it to do over again today I'd seriously consider home schooling - that's how silly things at school have gotten. I'm interested to hear the principal's response to your voicemail!
    I had something like that happen to my oldest, and I was livid. LIVID. They're so concerned with the letter of the law that common sense goes out the window.

  13. The school did that once to my son. Some kid had pulled the waist down on some pants he was wearing (about 2-3 inches) When his teacher told me about it, they had been grilling J. about who did it and all the details. I looked confused that they were making a big deal out of it...I mean they didn't pull his pants down to his knees...they just tugged the waist down a little. J's teacher was annoyed that I didn't get all frenzied like they had been about such an incident. Especially when I did say..."I don't get why you are telling me this." She responded, "We take this very seriously at this school." PLEASE!!!

    That night, J. prayed that he could remember who did it and I could tell was more traumatized by the teacher an principal's reaction than by the incident itself. I had to tell him to forget it...and that it was really no big deal.

    More than once I let J know that the school was overreacting. I guess they have to do that to keep from being sued. Crazy!

  14. It is absolutely insane what is happening in our school systems. My daughter came home not to long ago and told me that they were no longer aloud to play tag. Apparently tag is dangerous. My head is still spinning over that one.
    I am really curious to know the principals reaction to your message. 75mins is beyond ridiculous.

  15. Good grief!
    Tell Micah he's a great boy.
    Tell the principal he's a dork.

    Good for you for not taking it lying down.

  16. This is absolutely ridiculous & something that should have been handled by the teacher. If the pinched child carried on quite a bit (as kids will do) it may have been passed on to the principal but still excessive punishment - did not fit the 'crime'.

  17. Sweet Home Alabama!
    This is ridiculous. I pinch my kiddos (in a loving way) on the bum, on the way up the stairs at bedtime, so heaven help the person my kids pinch because it will be on the bum and they will say, "don't let the bed bugs bite" as they do it.
    I think you gave this all the attention it deserved, which is not much. Being who I am, I probably would have picked my son up from school at that monent and taken him out for an ice cream to boot.

  18. yep, i've been there in that mad mom state over school stuff. ri.di.cu.lous! i just don't understand them sometimes, cause at our house, if it's not blood or fire, i don't pay much attention ;)

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