It is every 1st grader and kindergartner’s delight to inform a teacher that a fellow classmate said a naughty word. Over the past few months, I have learned to decode what it means if someone said the “s-word” (stupid) or the “f-word” (fat). Sometimes the letter preceding “-word” sets my mind spinning, and I cannot decipher it. In those situations, my solution is to look at the student sternly and say, “I better not ever hear you say that word. Do you understand?” Of course there’s a chance I wouldn’t know if I hear it, since some words forbidden in elementary classrooms are part of my every-day vocabulary, but so far it has worked fine.
When I was showing the kindergartners Rose Period artwork by Picasso last week, I displayed Fat Clown Seated. I didn’t mention the painting’s title, and halfway through our discussion on Rose Period art, one student raised his hand, and informed me, “Jack just said that clown is fat!” He said it loudly and confidently, not even using the euphemism “f-word” to describe the taboo term.
“Well, the clown is fat,” I replied, and gasps erupted from the girls, and giggles from the boys. I hurriedly went on with the discussion, not sure if I had handled the situation correctly.
Tattling is not something I condone, but I have found that if I do not immediately reprimand the child being tattled on, the tattle-worthy behavior will continue and cause further disruptions and more tattles. Some students tattle just for the thrill of it, but most students have a legitimate concern. Today, I had one student tell me, “Sophie is tattling for no reason, and I didn’t do anything!” She was clearly trying to cover her back, but it was unnecessary as the purported tattling never reached my ears.
Thankfully, tattling goes out of style around 2nd grade, and my ears can rest from the never-ending chore of listening to “he said” and “she said”. Unfortunately, by 6th grade, I have new challenges as the terms “s-word” and “f-word” acquire new meanings. When those words are used in Miss Young’s art room, the students are sent straight to the office, and they can be sure their parents will be hearing about their behavior.