I was a substitute detention room monitor for an elementary school yesterday. It was an odd position to be in. Mostly, I could not fathom why any child there would listen to a word I said,
“Yes, I am the substitute detention lady. It is likely that you will never see me again after today. Nevertheless, you should do exactly as I say. Yes, I may look sweet and docile. That’s because I mostly am, but never mind my demeanor. You must respect my authority. Be a good child and don’t ever do that nasty thing again. Be quiet and obedient. Do what your teacher says. Now go back to class and be good!”
The notes said to have the child write an apology as “retribution,” before returning to class. That seemed like a good idea, until the kids started coming. Every situation was so bizarre and complicated, I couldn’t even figure out to whom the apology would be addressed. And could the children even write? Who knew?
Two little kids came in, for example, screaming at each other,
“No, you shut up!”
“I’m gonna slap you if you don’t shut up!”
Another random child came in and automatically went into this little "time out" room with a window in the door, shut the door, and started screaming through the door,
“Stupid head! Stupid head! Who’s a little stupid head? Stupid head!” [The "stupid head child was older, and apparently had nothing to do with the other two.]
While the other two sat down at opposite ends of the room.
I asked the kid nearest me his name and his “friend’s name” [the other one yelling, “shut up”]. They were apparently coming from art class, the very same art class that I have so enjoyed teaching in the past. Interesting. “So,” I asked, “what happened? Do you know why you were sent here?”
“I told him to shut up.” [The other kid says, “You better shut up!”]
“What did he say before you told him to shut up?”
“He said, ‘shut up’, and the teacher was talking.”
“What did you say before he said to shut up?”
“I mean, were you talking about something? Why would he tell you to be quiet?”
“I was telling him to be quiet. And Jose [not his real name]. I was telling Jose to be quiet.”
“What did Jose say?”
“He told me to shut up!”
“But what did you say, for him to tell you to be quiet about it?”
“I just said to shut up, because the teacher was talking.”
“And what was the teacher saying?”
“I don’t know. She was just, talking. She told us to be quiet.”
“But what was happening before she told you all to be quiet?”
“He was telling me to shut up!”
“But I mean, someone was talking about something, first, right?” Blank stare. “What were you doing in art class? Were you-”
“I mean, like, he just told me to shut up!”
“And you were all sitting together?”
“Were you all sitting at the same table?”
“No, no. I was sitting at the blue table. Jose was at the red table. Bill was at the purple table.”
“So, you were all sitting at different tables, yelling at each other to shut up- but who started talking first?”
“JESUS CHRIST, CHILD! HOW COULD YOU ALL BE SCREAMING AT EACH OTHER TO BE QUIET WHEN NOBODY SAID ANYTHING TO BEGIN WITH!? THIS IS LUDICROUS! I DON’T CARE IF YOU’RE ONLY SEVEN YEARS OLD! THIS MAKES NO SENSE! I’M LEAVING! GROW UP AND LEARN LOGIC! I CAN’T TAKE THIS ANYMORE!”
Okay, I didn't really say that.
I paused. ["Stupid head! Stupid head! Look at the stupid head!" in the background.] I really said,
“If you all sit at different tables, do you think you could just ignore him?”
“’Cause I don’t like him.”
“Because he’s always telling me 'shut up' and stuff.”
And then the other kid started laughing at the kid behind the glass door, yelling, “stupid head”.
P.S. Jennifer: I'm sorry there are no zombies in this story. I will try to do better next time.