Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Hugging Incident

So Tarzan and Cinderella are having their after-school snack the other day (we have almost an hour before Scooby gets home from school - it's ridiculously quiet) and Tarzan says, out of the blue, "Your teacher is mean."
Cinderella - "Well, a little."
Me - "Why is she mean?"
Tarzan - "She said, 'You better not do that, or else -' and I didn't hear what else she said."
Me - "Do what?"
Cinderella - "Hug him."
Me - "Wait a minute. She told you not to hug each other?"
Tarzan - "Yeah."
Me - "Did she know you were brother and sister?"
Cinderella - "Yes, she knew."
Me - "What exactly did she say?"
Cinderella - "I don't remember."
Tarzan - "She said, 'You better not do that, or else -' something."
Me - "Huh."

Later: I write an email..."Ms. ______, I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to meet you at the Open House, I was at the middle school with my older son. Perhaps there's a morning I could come in and help out for an hour or so before school sometime. I was concerned to hear about an incident the other day. E. said she got in trouble for hugging her brother in the hallway. T. was kind of upset about it. He's a pretty sensitive kid and was worried that he'd gotten her in trouble. He's also been missing his big brother since he went to middle school, and was probably happy to see E. I'm confused as to why they were not allowed to hug each other hello? Please advise me on this when you get a chance."

The next morning, I get an email in return. (I'm paraphrasing) "E. did not get in trouble for hugging her brother. She lifted him up off the floor and I asked her not to do that in case she dropped him or another child in line ran in to her if they weren't looking. I told her my preference would be a silent wave. I'm sorry if this caused (crap, I can't remember the word she used...friction, maybe?EDIT: It was "ill feelings.") I don't need any help in the mornings at this time. Thank you for letting me know."

I posted something on Facebook and got a huge response of outrage and indignation over the kids not being allowed to hug.

Now, part of me understands somewhat. Cinderella can give rather...exuberant...hugs. I can see how that might be disruptive in the middle of a crowded hallway. On the other hand, why shouldn't siblings who actually care about each other and are happy to see each other be allowed to express that? Isn't it better than the alternative? I don't really want to make a big deal out of it, and I probably won't say anything else to the teacher about it. But I have to say, this has raised some warning flags with me. I don't want a repeat of last year, where I waited too long to intervene it what was not a great classroom situation for Cinderella. I was hoping she'd have a better year. And she seems pretty happy with her classroom and her teacher. I'm just...frustrated that this is even an issue.

People commented on FB that this is why our schools are so bad, this is why I homeschool my kids, etc. Well, homeschooling is not an option. Even if I weren't in school and working, I don't have the temperment to homeschool, and besides, they're smarter than me. I have to work within this imperfect system. And I'm trying to make it a positive lesson for them. I said, "Those are the rules in school. You're not allowed to hug each other. I think it's a dumb rule. But, it's the rule, and you need to follow it. However, please give each other extra hugs right before school and right afterwards to make up for it."

Sometimes there are rules we don't agree with. Even for grownups. And sometimes it's good to have to discipline yourself to follow a rule that you don't agree with.

But really, it's a dumb rule. Talk about legislating affection! There's a difference between high schoolers making out in the halls, and a second and third grade sibling giving each other a hug. Somewhere in the tangled system of burocracy, human reason should play a part and make some distinctions.

When you see your loved ones today, give them a hug.

Rules be damned.


Anonymous said...

Just to let you know. Sam and Nick hug all the time at school. Nick even popped his head into Sam's class and asked Mrs. Keefer how is Sam doing today? When she asked why was he so concerned he said Sam wasn't feeling well this morning and he was worried!!! Now I never want them to be disruptive but a little love goes a long way!!
I love you!!

Blackbird said...

I take it she didn't get Tarzan's old teacher after all? Maybe your next e-mail should read "Let me rephrase. Since I wasn't able to attend the Open House, I would like to meet with you in person. I will stop by next Wednesday at 8 AM."

Carol said...

That whole situation brought tears to my eyes! Affection between siblings should be encouraged. Sounds like that teacher was trying to excuse her "dumb" response to the situation. Got the package--thanks.

SMNYC said...

If I had to guess..

I don't think has ANYthing to do with affection and sounds more like a concern about roughhousing in the hallways. Wasn't there, none of us were. But your FB friends seemed realllllly quick on the draw to condemn the stupid teacher/admin.

Melissa said...

I don't think I ever had to worry about that when I was little. I just bit little boys...

my name is emily. said...

i think the fact that she so curtly told you she didn't need help made me just as mad as her saying the kids can't hug. boooooo!

CassandraMadeIt said...

I'm being literal here. You wrote that she said she didn't want your daughter to pick up her brother and that a wave would be safer. Meaning, literally, don't pick him up. He could fall and get hurt.
Schools can be sued. They want to avoid kids being hurt. I think that's what the teacher was after.
Your kids interpreted that they should not hug. I think it would be okay for either you or the kids to clarify if hugging with both feet on the ground is okay.
As for the refusal of help... she might literally mean she does not need additional help. She might be touchy. Take the high road and think that perhaps she's not being a witch. You'll stress less.
I think that her apology for bringing stress to the family is a good thing, as it shows it was not her intention to stress your children. Sometimes we (as adults) say things quick meaning one thing (and kids) hear another. I think it would be good to clarify with her about hugging, so as not to step on anyone's toes. imho.

SMNYC said...

Time to get over the incident and blog some more!