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A Young Boy/Man's Rage, and A Knife He Wanted to Be a Gun - Part II A Young Boy/Man's Rage, and A Knife He Wanted to Be a Gun - Part II
by Leah Sellers
2012-12-22 10:19:07
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We were a Self Contained Behavioral Classroom. There was nowhere else to go. The office didn't handle my students' problems. That was our job. I had sought Officer Thimble's help as a safeguard and, had found no help at all. The buck stopped here.
"Ms. P., please take over the Story Reading until my return. I'll be back as soon as possible. If the period ends before my return, please, keep the Boys in this room for their ten minute break." I requested.

There was no moaning or groaning from the Boys in the Speaking Circle. That was odd. What was going on here? What did they know that I didn't, and why weren't they saying anything about it?
"Afterwards, have them go straight to work on their Science Research papers. Just follow our normal schedule and today's packets until I can return to the group."
"Don't go over there, Ms. S. Please, don't go over there," M. pled. His big doe eyes wide with fear and concern.
"I have to M. for all of our sakes. I'll be back as soon as possible," I replied, smiling reassuringly at him.
I looked around at the circle of Boys. They all looked tense and fearful.
What was going on?
"Come on you punk a _ _ sissies. You don't have to do what she says. We don't have to do anything we don't want to.! he yelled defiantly.
All of the Boys eyes were on me. They all sat still as Stone. None of them were behaving normally.
Without another word, I left the Speaking Circle in Ms. P.'s care, and walked through the doorway leading into the Art and Science room. Into the hungry Lion's Den.
"What do you intend to do, T.? What's your plan for today?" I asked matter-of-factly.
"Nothin'. I ain't doing nothin'. And you can't make me do anything," He answered snidely.
"T., I need to remind you that you're losing five points for every curse word you use. And that you're also losing points for every minute that you remain off task. I also need to remind you that when you ran out of the room this morning without permission, that you dropped a Level. As a result, you have lost your 'out' class."
"You can't do that. My grandparents won't let you. They want me out of this program, and into the regular school," he retorted angrily. He sneered at me purposefully while smugly intertwining his pudgy finger across his heaving chest.
"T. I am merely responding to your choices and decisions thus far this morning. You are fully aware of what the class rules are, and what you need to do to earn your points and earn your levels. No one is doing anything to you, but you, Sir," I answered.
"I'll be speaking to your grandparents later. Class rules are Class rules, T. Now, if you Choose not to work today, then you are Choosing the Consequences that go along with that decision," I continued.
"You can turn this around right now or later on. The Choice is yours." I reminded him. Now, the ball was in his court. What would he do with it?
"You're a Liar. I can't do whatever I want to. You're all Liars. My parents are M _ _ _ _ _ F _ _ _ _ _ _ g Liars. I hate all of you! Especially, that little punk a _ _ mamma's boy." He pointed through the doorway.
I knew he meant my little 6th grader, C.
I'm gonna kill that punk a _ _, M _ _ _ _ _ F _ _ _ _ _!" He stared at me maliciously. "And there's nothin' you can do about it, b _ _ _ _ ." He spit out the last word with tremendous force.
A diversion was needed.
"Ms. J., are you writing all of this on T.'s point sheets? Don't worry about the points. Just write down what he's saying, and make a list of his most frequently used curse words and phrases, and place a mark by them each time they're used. We'll figure out the number of points he's lost at the end of the day," I directed.
Ignoring T., I turned my attention to G. Smiling slightly I asked, "G., are you ready to rejoin the group? It must be difficult to concentrate on your reading in this room."
"He's not going anywhere!" T. ordered, drawing the attention back toward himself.
He was really needing Control of the room. Why?
I looked pointedly at T., "That's up to G. Not you, Sir."
I returned my gaze to G. His sky blue eyes looked worried, but determined. "I need to stay here, Ms. S."
What was going on with G., I wondered? This was so unlike him. He didn't even like T. He sometimes had sought T.'s approval because T. was older, but on the whole, G. avoided interactions with T. Although, G. sometimes helped to protect the younger boys (the Munchkins) from T.'s unpredictable temper tantrums and bullying.
"Alright, G., but please, remember that you are still losing points for being off task, even though you're earning points for reading," I reminded him.
"That doesn't make any sense, T. snorted.
"You are always rewarded for the work you do. Just as you can lose points for what you Choose not to do. It's always up to you, T. You can either Choose to earn points by doing what's required of you or lose points for Choosing not to. It's all up to you," I replied conversationally.
"You're full of s _ _ _!" T. roared. "All of you p _ _ _ ant, M _ _ _ _ _ F _ _ _ _ _s are full of s _ _ _!"
"I'm gettin' out of here!" T. wheezed. I'm gettin' out of this M _ _ _ _ _ F_ _ _ ing Program - this M _ _ _ _ _ F _ _ _ ing school - this M _ _ _ _ _ F _ _ _ ing town! And there's nothin' you or nobody else can do about it! You can't stop me! I can do anything I want to do! T. shouted.
"What happens to you, is up to you T." I calmly agreed. "However, I feel it important to remind you that this program is your last stop, young man. If you fail this program, you go straight to a boot camp program. It's all up to you."
"My grandparents won't let that happen," T. argued with me. "I can do whatever I want! They can't tell me what to do!" T. yelled. His face and thick neck were bright red. White spittle dotted both sides of his snarling lips.
"Your grandparents love you, T. They want what's best for you. They have sacrificed for you. They will always do what is best for you - for your Future,' I said firmly.
"I hate those M _ _ _ _ _ F _ _ _ _ _s! I hate their rules! They expect too much! They're chokin' me! I don't have to do any of it! None of it! I'm leavin' and goin' to live with my father! T. blurted out.
"Are your father and mother aware of your plans, T.? " I asked quietly.
T. glared at me. He angrily pushed his body back up against the couch. Lips pressed tight into a white line. Arms folded hard across his broad chest. Breathing heavily.
He sat and I stood within the tense silence.
I politely and gently returned his gaze. Waiting for his response. Following the lead of his emotional energies.
A long, intense minute passed. I needed to release the pressure for awhile. T. was being quiet, but his inner wheels were turning and burning. His quietude probably wouldn't last for long. But then again, it might. I had other students and duties to attend to.
"Excuse me, young men, but I need to return to the other classroom. Ms. J., please, remain here with T. and G.'s point sheets. Their research paper materials and books are over there on the long table. The moment they begin working on their Science papers, they can start earning their daily class points again. Thank you."
Ms. J. looked at me blandly, "Will do," she chirped. Early in the year she had told me that she really didn't like working with 'troubled teenagers'. She said that the work was 'too hard for too little pay' and that she would be looking for another job at the end of the year.
There were only two months left before summer break. Ms. J. was merely biding her time. I had been working with Emotionally Disturbed/ Learning Disabled students for over seven years. I had watched many assistants come and go. They were right. It was not an easy job. It was a Healing, Mentoring Vocation.
I returned to the Speaking Circle and discovered where the group was within the Story. I began asking questions about the Story's content and the protagonist's problem-solving skills.
"He's gotta knife! Ms. J. squeaked. "He's coming into your room!"
T. was headed toward our Academic Room with a Knife and Wicked Intentions.
I got up instantly and headed toward the doorway leading into the Art and Science room. Hoping to stop him from entering the Academic Room. I knew who he would go after.
I looked back at Ms. P. and whispered, "Get the boys out of here. Go to the office. Call the police."
Ms. P. was frozen to her chair. She looked at me dumbly, but K., one of the older boys, got up immediately, "Come on guys, we gotta get outta' here." Jerking his arms around he continued, "Come on! Come on! Get up! We gotta get outta' here"
T. lunged through the doorway. His beet red face smiling evilly. "That's right you chicken s _ _ _s! You punk a_ _ed bastards! You M_ _ _ _ _ F_ _ _ _ing, s_ _ _ heads! Get out of my way, b_ _ _ _!
T. was malevolently staring at little C. His eyes were bright slits.
I placed myself directly between T. and the terrified young boy. "T. think about what you're doing."
His eyes were glazed over. He was momentarily immobile. A heaving Gargantuan. He pointed his knife hand in C.'s direction grinning from ear to ear.
I could hear C. whimpering behind me. "Somebody help me! Somebody!" he cried.
T. began slashing the Knife around in the air as if practicing what he intended to do to C. He face was still transfixed into that horrible Grinning Mask.
"T., please don't do this. Please, put the knife away. Think about what you're doing." I continued to move in his direction. Trying to get his attention off of C. He plowed into my Body. "Get out my way, b_ _ _ _! he bellowed.
I planted my hands firmly in the center of his chest. He was too large for me to even think about placing in a safe hold. Ms. J. and Ms. P were nowhere to be seen. I didn't know what else to do. I had to stop him.
We struggled to and fro. Push-pull. Slipping and sliding. He was still smiling. How could he be smiling? My feet were slipping out from under me. He was too strong. Too heavy. He was pushing me across the length of the room, looking straight at C.
"Please, T., look at me! Your can stop this. You can turn this around. You don't have to do this! This is not who you are! I pled.
T. looked directly into my eyes. His eyes became lucid. He appeared to really see me for the first time. He hesitated.
C. cried out, "Somebody help me! He's going to kill me!"
T.'s attention went immediately back to C. He shoved his fist hard into my chest. Waving the Knife wildly around in all directions, he pushed me down to the ground with tremendous force. He wrenched free of my hold on him, and walked right over me. I didn't notice that his Knife had ripped through my plaid shirt and sliced my stomach until much later in the day.
My eyes searched for Ms. P. She was hiding behind my desk. K., one of my 8th graders, had gotten all of the boys outside the room. Thank heavens. I could only hope that they would all go straight to the office and get help.
"Call the police," I whispered to Ms. P., while picking myself up from the floor to try and stop T. from hurting C. "Call 911."
Everything was moving too fast. T. had C. by the scruff of the smaller boy's tee shirt. He had C. pinned and sprawled out against the corner wall of the Inner Sanctum - the Calming Room. T.'s Knife was pressed up against C.'s carotid artery. C. was crying. Tears streaming down his freckled cheeks. He was scared to death. He looked from T. to me wall-eyed, afraid to speak.
T. smiled ferociously at me. "Don't come near me, b_ _ _ _! I'll shove this Knife into this panty waste's throat! I'll pin him up against the wall! You know I will!"
"T., I'm staying right here. I'm not moving. T. think about what you're doing. About where all of this will lead. Think about everything this will undo." I implored quietly. I had to be careful. We were all in unfamiliar territory. I could afford no missteps.
"I don't give a s_ _ _, b_ _ _ _! I'm killing this punk a_ _ Cry Baby and there's not anything you or anyone else can do about it."
I glanced toward Ms. P. She still had not called the police - had not dialled 911. She was frantically and nonsensically sliding back and forth behind my desk, like a chicken with its head cut off. What was she doing? What an idiot.
Her eyes caught mine. "I can't find Officer Thimble's number," she whispered weakly.
Oh, good Lord, Officer Thimble's number was written on a piece of paper stapled to the wall by the phone. This was ridiculous! Ms. J. was hiding in the room next door with G. (if she had not already fled the portable altogether), and Ms. P. was proving to be useless.
I was alone. Good Lord, all alone. Seconds and events were whizzing by in a blurred flurry.
I returned my attention to T., "T. think about what you're doing. I don't want you to wind up in jail. You've come so far. Please, let C. go. I'll stay here with you and we can work through this."
T. hesitated. He lowered the Knife from C.'s throat. C.'s throat was not cut, but it was covered by red, angry raised welts, and beginning to bruise. The knife must be dull.
T.'s eyes were filled with uncertainty once again. Did I detect fear?
C. sniffled and whined, "Don't kill me. I haven't done anything to you."
T. immediately snapped the knife back up against C.'s carotid artery. "Shut up, b_ _ _ _! You M_ _ _ _ _ F_ _ _ing, a_ _ hole! I'm gonna kill you, M_ _ _ _ _ F_ _ _er! He shouted into C.'s face. "Go ahead! Cry! You M_ _ _ _ _ F_ _ _ _ing, Baby! You are dead meat!"
C. cringed. Squeezed his eyes shut and remained quiet and perfectly still.
"T., look at me. Look at me. You don't really want to do this. Think about what you're doing. Please, let C. go and we'll work this out. Stop now, before this goes any further. Let C. go and we'll work this out," I repeated. Hoping my words would reach him. Would hold some meaning of Hope for him. He was not completely boxed in. There was a way out of this Trap of his own making. We could work things out.
"You stupid, B_ _ _ _ _! I'm gonna kill him and then I'm gonna kill you!" He laughed. It sounded more like a harsh bark. "You can't stop me! I'll kill all of you, M_ _ _ _ _ F_ _ _ _ers! You think I'm afraid of the police? I'll take as many Pigs down with me as I can, before they stop me. Those M_ _ _ _ _ F_ _ _ _ ers!
Ms. P. scurried out from behind my desk. I didn't know where she was headed. I didn't care.
I dashed behind my desk. Yanking the phone up, I quickly punched in 911.
It felt as if the phone were ringing forever. Weren't they supposed to answer 911 calls immediately?
Finally, a voice at the other end. I had no idea what they were saying. As calmly and as clearly as was possible I said, "There's a student with a Knife in my room. He's holding the Knife at the neck of another student. My name is Ms. S. I am a teacher at CPMS on Raindrop Trail. We are in portable 206. He's threatening to kill everyone. Please, come as quickly as possible. I don't have time to stay on the line to talk to you. But, please come fast. This is an emergency." I put the phone back on the hook.
As I started to come back around my desk to reengage with T., he passed by the front of my desk. He was bare tummied. He had taken his black shirt off and wrapped it around his left hand. I had learned from other students in gangs that gang members sometimes used their shirts as shields during knife fights. The Knife was held firmly within his right hand.
He appeared to be walking around in a daze.
"T.?" I asked automatically.
He ignored me. "Let 'em come! Let 'em try to take me down! I'll take those M_ _ _ _ _ F_ _ _ ing Pigs down with me! Every one of 'em!"
Those were the last words I ever heard T. utter.
He stomped out, leaving the door ajar.
I ran to the door and locked it. I ran to the Art and Science Room next door and locked it.
Ms. J and G. were huddled at the back of the room. Both were pale and drawn. Eyes large with fear and uncertainty.
"Is he gone, Ms S?" G asked.
"Yes, he's gone G." I answered.
"Please, don't be mad at me Ms. S. I stayed over here 'cause I thought he was gonna do somethin'."
"I'm not angry with you, G. Everything's fine between you and I." I replied quickly. "G., I need you and Ms. J to follow me into the next room. I've got to check on C. and Ms. P." I was already on my way toward the Art and Science Room's doorway.
C. was curled up on the floor in a little ball. Ms. P. was squatting on the floor with her arms wrapped around him, soothing him.
"Is he alright? Is he hurt?" I asked as I hurriedly jogged across the room and bent down to examine him. I hugged C.'s shoulders. "Let me check your neck, C. Good, no cuts. Just some bruising and red welts. Are you hurt anywhere else?"
C. shook his head no, turning his teary eyes in my direction. "He tried to kill me, Ms. S. He tried to kill me."
I hugged him tighter. "But he didn't C., and he could have. You need to remember that." I said softly. "The police are on their way. I need to call the office and check on the other boys."
As I rose, there was a loud knock on the door. Ms. J. ran over toward the door.
"Wait, Ms. J., It might be T." I said forcefully. "Don't open the door yet. Please, ask who it is."
Ms. J. leaned up against the thick metal door. "Who is it?"
“Ms. W. from next door. The office called our room, and asked us to check on you."
Ms. J. opened the door. Ms. W. stepped in. She looked harried and concerned.
"Please, lock the door," I requested.
"The police are here. Ms. E. and Ms. D. are watching my students. What's going on?." Ms. W. queried.
"Please, let's lock the door anyway," I repeated. "Until we know where T. is, it's just safer that way."
Ms. J. locked the door.
Ms. W. walked over to where we were. "Is he okay?"
"Yes, he's going to be alright,' I answered making a point to smile reassuringly at C. "He's a very brave young man whose been through a terrible time today."
"What happened?" Ms. W. asked.
"I'll tell you about it later. Right now I need to check on my other children." I started getting up to use the phone.
"They're fine," Ms. W. said. "They didn't go to the office. They went to the band hall and told them what was going on. I guess they know the band directors."
"Yes, the boys like the band directors. We've been going over to the band hall once a week for Music lessons." I explained.
"Well, the band directors didn't know what to think. I don't think they believed them. So, they took the Boys down to the office. The office secretary must know the Boys and she called the police and the principal," Ms. W. continued.
"Good. I called the police, too. I'll bet that sped things up when they received two calls," I added.
There was another loud knock at the door.
"Please, ask who it is before you open it," I reiterated.
Ms. W., a take charge, no nonsense, kind of gal, walked over to the door and asked, "Who's there?"
"The third little pig. Let me in by my chinny, chin, chin!" Replied a muffled voice.
Ms. W grinned. "It's Ms. D." She opened the door to a tall, robust woman.
Ms. D.'s face was flushed and she was out of breath. "The police have him. It took four of them to get him to give himself up. They had to put him in a hold and handcuff him in the middle of the street. He was headed over to the houses across the street. It was quite a sight. He was yellin' and cussin' to the top of his lungs. You could hear him all over the neighborhood."
"I need to get the other boys and make sure they're okay," I looked toward Ms. W. "Can y'all stay here with C. and everyone until I get back with the boys?"
"Someone from the office will be bringing the boys back. The school psychologist is on her way here from another campus to help. When the police arrive Principal St. said that they will want to get statements from everyone. She told me to have everyone stay here in the room." Ms. W. answered.
"Statements? I hadn't even thought about that," I said aloud. Turning back toward C. and Ms. P. I suggested, "Why don't we get C. up off the floor. Let me take one of the bean bags out of the Inner Sanctum."
"I'm not ever going back in there again," C. hollered, pointing at the desecrated Inner Sanctum.
"I can understand why you might feel that way C. We'll have to find a way to make that room ours again, won't we." I countered.
"I'm never going back in there again. He was going to kill me in there, Ms. S. You saw it! He had that Knife on my throat! He was going to kill me! What if he gets away from the police? What if he escapes and comes after me again?! C. cried out hysterically.
I needed to calm him down.
"The police have T. now, C. You don't have to worry about him," I eased the bean bag across the room. "Here you go, young man. A perfect spot, just for you. Would you like a coke or anything C.?"
"He attempted a tremulous smile, and shook his yes. His mind was briefly distracted from T.'s acts of Terrorism. He was just a little twelve year old boy who wanted a cold coke.
There was another resounding knock Upon the metal door. Ms. T. once again volunteered her services as the Official Door Opener.
The district's Behavioral Administrator, one of my favorite people, Ms. K.K., walked in the door accompanied by three policemen, and the rest of my boys.
I could relax now. The police were here. Ms. K.K. was here. Ms. St., the school principal (another one of my favorite people), showed up as well. She informed me that each of my students' parents were being called by the secretary at the main office. I breathed deeply and went on automatic pilot. None of what was happening, or had happened, felt real to me. I just had to remain present and focused for my Boys.
After everyone was reassured that everyone else was alright, we were all asked to sit down and write our statements about what had happened. The boys were nervous about writing the statements, so, I helped them with their grammar. They didn't want to be embarrassed by making 'stupid spelling mistakes'. Or so they said.
The police said that everyone had to write the statements in their own words and thoughts about what had happened, and that we were not to discuss it with one another until we handed our statements in to the policemen.
K. was refusing to write a statement. He kept saying that he didn't want to betray T. I let him know that T. had betrayed himself. That what K. had to say would be important. I also let him know how proud I was of his having had the presence of mind to get all of the younger boys out of the classroom when I had requested that they leave.
K. thanked me, but there was an underlying reluctance about him. Was he feeling guilty about something? K.'s statement consisted of a very brief three sentence paragraph.
All of the other boys also seemed to be hesitant about writing the statement for the police as well. But once they got started, most of them needed extra paper. They were very anxious to go to Speaking Circle so that we could all talk about and process what had happened.
Since I had bought C. a coke, I wound up buying all of the boys a coke. It was only fair.
During Speaking Circle the boys agreed with my idea to repaint the Inner Sanctum with individual murals of their original design filled with 'power symbols' of their choosing. Power symbols that we had studied and learned about in our multicultural units, such as the All Seeing Eye, Angel's Wings, Horses, Lightning Rods etc.. Power symbols that they related to, and would help them feel as though that Space - The Inner Sanctum - was theirs again. It would be our way of Purifying that Space for ourselves - of taking it back for ourselves.


Part I - Part II - Part III 


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