As I said in the last post, most parents brought concerns directly to me, but one contacted the school principal. Experiences with parents usually faded soon after incidents involving their child’s classroom activities. But two are still with me. I’ve posted the boy story, now the girl story.
A girl suddenly started missing my class, but I saw her in the lunchroom and other areas of the school. That of course required a report to the vice-principal. He told me her not being in my class was at her mother’s request. And he would be contacting me for a conference with the parents.
I asked why to which he said it would come up at the conference. Then he said, the girl’s mother hadn’t given him a reason other than she was unhappy because the girl was embarrassed to be there.
That, of course, brought on a brain racking time for me. The boy/girl restroom issue had been resolved, I’d allowed girls in dresses to opt out of some tasks, and given consideration to other needs without comment.[mfn]This was before the all-girl class incidents (All Girl Class II).[/mfn] And, I’d not seen or heard of inappropriate behavior by any of the boys.
The mother, the girl, the vice-principal, and I met in his office. The mother hadn’t made a written complaint for the VP to read, so he asked her to explain.
She said something like, “My faith will not allow … to be in a class where inappropriate language is used by a teacher.”
VP asked if she would quote what … said she’d heard me say.
Mom said, “I can’t say the word.”
VP asked if … left the room could she say it. She said no. He asked her to write it on paper. She said no. He asked … if she could write it. The girl looked at her mother who gave an obvious ‘no’ glare.
After a long silence, Mom said it was a curse word for illegitimate child. It hit me! There are several types of files used in both metal and wood working. Bastard cut is one of them[mfn] a file of the commercial grade of coarseness between coarse and second-cut[/mfn].
I said something like, “I believe I know the issue. Files for shaping wood or metal and used in industry have standard tooth patterns and courses. One of those grades is technically and historically called a Bastard file or Bastard cut.
She stood, took her daughter by the arm, and left saying, “You’ll hear from my husband.”
The next day the girl was in class and told me, “Dad said he uses that kind of file at the mill many times a week, but I’ll just ask for ‘that’ file if I need one. And if it’s on a quiz can I just write ‘that’ file?”
The issue was over!