Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cookie Backwash and Middle School Drama

Monday evening Levi came sheepishly downstairs, holding a poem he had written in class that day. He started his sad confessional with the words "the teacher put this poem in my file. She said my writing is unintelligent, a poor attempt at humor, and inappropriate". Apparently the boy who had to edit the poem found it offensive and brought it to the teacher's attention.

Naturally I panicked. What in the WORLD did he say in his poem that would have him put on "file" and caused his teacher to be this upset? I never should have allowed him to buy himself an xbox! Maybe b/c we let him watch Harry Potter movies and they were PG-13? Haven't we taught him anything? Immediately angry with him, I demanded to read the poem. He nervously and apologetically handed it over. I read it out loud for my husband to hear:

My Winter Poem
Winter tastes like cookies freshly baked. With eggnog to drink, leftover milk that Santa had not finished may not only taste like cookie backwash, but it might attract the reindeer.
Levi Adams (6th Grade Humanities)

I had to re-read it twice before the panic subsided. I asked if it was his reference to Santa that was offensive? No, it wasn't even THAT logical. This poem was put in his file b/c of the word BACKWASH.

Unfortunately, my panic, and fear turned immediately to RAGE. What teacher would tell a child his writing is unintelligent (ever) when he was cleverly (imo) describing eggnog? I spent the whole night drafting an email to send to the teacher. I could hardly sleep that night.

The best part is her placid and pathetic reply to my email. She claimed that she felt he was testing her to see how far he could go with inappropriate writing. She thought he was opening a door to push the limits. Not a single apology for her comments was made, but she did graciously remove the copy of the poem from his file and did also say (my favorite part) that she "may have" misinterpreted his intentions and that the fact he talked to me about it shows that he probably did not mean any 'harm or malice' in his remarks.

Two days later and my shaking rage is beginning to subside. Stripped of sarcasm, humor and creativity, his poem was finally acceptable to his classmates and teacher. Middle school in suburban America at its finest.


Jespersen said...

Wow...That's ridiculous! I would have been furious too! Glad it ended well - but he should have gotten an apology. Kids do WAAAAY worse stuff and never get called on it. That doesn't even make my list of bad!

Samurai Mom said...

My rage hasn't subsided I would raise a ruckus. That is MILD for an 11 year old boy and pretty funny.

Anonymous said...

Chels, I'm still so confused! Isn't poetry suppose to allow for creativity? I'm so bugged. I thought his description was genius and very clever. I could totally imagine what that nasty "leftover milk" would taste like. Boo to her! Tell Levi, his former neighbor is still impressed by his clever, little mind and I would have given him two thumbs up.

Melissa Rozeski said...

THAT is ridiculous!!! First, what kid would be offended by the word backwash? Secondly, what is this teacher doing in middle school if she reacts in this manner. No swearing, no violence, nothing truly offensive or even off color. She needs to untwist her undies and get a sense of humor.

Good for you for defending him. It takes a great mind to write with imagery and an even greater mind to get a reaction our of your readers.

Levi, I commend your writing. Though you need to respect your teacher, just know your writing is excellent and I LOVE your humor! I was in honors humanities in high school, and I guarantee you that many of the best works of art are such because they draw a reaction from people. The use of the word "backwash" was bold and drew an image that everyone could relate to. Your poem was honest, clear and sent a clever message. You get an A from me and I'll put in your file!!!

The Thelins said...

That is ridiculous. You should talk to the principal. She should have to apologize to him in front of the whole class or something. Why would a teacher ever talk like that to a student? And excuse me but why isn't she focused more on kids who are swearing and bullying and acting disrespectful to adults and other kids? Grrr..

jrushing said...

That is just crazy talk!!! I can't believe it! I love that you thought you ruined him because he watched the HP movies. And I agree, you should talk to the principle. This teacher has been teaching too long.