Other People's Ill Mannered Kids -- Coping Without Getting Sued!

Delightful little darlin'...
Delightful little darlin'... | Source

Something for the kiddies...

In the general scheme of things; I’m of the opinion we should all give back to society in any way we can – within reason. I’ve only recently added “within reason” to that statement due to a recent appearance as “Miss Sis.” Miss Sis is my alter ego when entertaining children’s groups. Dear hearts, if you’ve not experienced an occasion wherein it’s your sworn duty to entertain children – well, it’s a whole ‘nother world out there!

I recently accepted an invitation from a friend to join her in presenting a program about the Chisholm Trail which runs through our tiny county to grade school children. She was going to speak on the subject, invite the children’s questions, etc. and then she wanted me to entertain – probably 15/20 minutes with old trail songs, ie cowboy music, etc. I considered this a shoo-in as I’ve done it for umpteen years.

On the appointed day I gathered up my guitar, banjo, dressed in my Miss Sis regalia and sallied forth. Upon our arrival we discovered we would entertain two small classes (two separate shows) of “gifted” children – in this case meaning those kids brighter than the average bear. Each group’s teacher would be in attendance – which seemed right to me – and so the afternoon began.

No lack of self confidence here...
No lack of self confidence here... | Source

And now kiddies...

There was a small room designated for our little gathering which consisted of a big, round table and eight chairs (grown-up size) – so obviously our two classes were going to be small in number. The first class tromped in, with teacher at exactly 2:00 o’clock. Their very entrance gave me cause for pause. One little boy immediately took a running jump onto the table, slid across it and stopped just short of landing in our speaker’s lap. Before we could “help” him down from the table another kid began literally standing on his head in one of the chairs. All the kids were involved in loud conversation among themselves.

While all this was going on a little girl proceeded to grab my banjo (which was leaning up against the wall and an expensive instrument) and ride it like a stick horse before I could dislodge it from her. Ahhhh…this was going to be an interesting afternoon – no doubt about it. The teacher was viewing all this with a jaundiced eye but said nary a word to calm these little bearers of excess energy. Our speaker rearranged all her notes which the “table slider” had scattered. I put my banjo behind my chair and the presentation began.

The speaker had spent a lot of time not only researching for the afternoon but making sure her presentation was geared to children of early grade school intellect. Gifted though these kids may be their intellect was definitely early grade school BUT did not, however, include any semblance of manners or discipline in any shape or form. They grabbed at the speaker’s notes, interrupted her repeatedly and visited among themselves.

The teacher made one statement and one statement only: “Now, children, you must sit quietly and listen carefully as Ms. Jean has some interesting things to tell you.” That was this teacher’s one and only input regarding the out-of-control situation. Ms. Jean finally resorted to answering the kids questions as they showed no interest at all in listening to her presentation. The kids had studied the Chisholm Trail the entire week before we showed up to entertain them so they were well armed with questions!

Go ahead on sweetheart...
Go ahead on sweetheart... | Source

Time to hang up the guitar and banjo!

When it came my time to perform I engaged in a little pre-performance conversation with the kids and advised them I’d answer questions and take comments when I had finished my part of the program. It’s really hard to play an instrument, sing and answer questions at the same time. The kids nodded in agreement – which I didn’t, by that time, trust at all -- and began my first song accompanying myself on the guitar. They all watched and listened with great intent. My confidence as to kid crowd control grew exponentially at that point. By the time I put down the guitar and picked up the banjo the kids had sung along with me on a couple of old songs and I was convinced I had the deal in the bag.

When I picked up the banjo and began explaining a bit about the instrument is where I sensed things were going downhill from there. My audience was absolutely enthralled by the banjo itself, had a million questions right out front and slipped back into “out of control.” I finally got a tiny bit of quiet and began “She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain” – and they all joined in singing – ahhhh, back on track. Banjo music, by nature, is an “up” foot-stomping, hand clapping instrument and crowds of all ages usually respond to it somewhat like being on a “sugar high.” My little listeners were no exception. A couple of more songs and the hockey hit the fan.

A mouthy little boy sitting right next to me reached over with both hands and latched onto the neck of my banjo with a death grip, setting back and pulling it toward him. Again, the banjo is old, irreplaceable (actually quite valuable) and dear to my heart. I politely asked him to let go while looking at the teacher; hoping for assistance. None was forthcoming although she had a look of sheer panic on her face. I continued to talk to the child, explaining all the reasons why he couldn’t have the banjo – including the show must go on – and not once did he lessen his grip or even act like he’d heard what I was saying.

By now I was nearly in panic mode as one does not knock the hell out of children – which, in all truth, had been my first inclination. Giving up all hope of reasoning with the little devil or expecting teacher assistance; I leaned over and quite gently whispered in his ear “If you don’t turn lose my banjo I promise Miss Sis is going to break both your wrists!” Glory be – he turned loose and with both lips in pouting mode sat back in his chair. “You’re not very nice,” he announced in a somewhat overly loud voice. “Neither are you,” I replied “and you need to sit there and be quiet – you’re ruining the music for everyone else.”

He was a quick study as he immediately came back with “My mommy and daddy don’t talk to me like that!” I didn’t tell him I figured that was the case but immediately took it upon myself to advise him “That’s too bad – why don’t you tell them about you grabbing my banjo and tell them to call me about it if they want to,” and with that I launched into another song so we’d change direction.

I finished my little part of the afternoon, quickly got both the guitar and banjo in their cases to prevent further disruption and took a deep breath. The teacher thanked us and the next class arrived. By now I was very cautious about these “gifted” children. The next class was equally as rude and badly behaved but I didn’t have to protect my instruments from them. When the last show was done the teacher briefly explained to Ms. Jean and me what a teacher’s position now has to be as far as disciplining her students. It seems their hands are tied and nearly any discipline whatsoever, including verbal can be considered grounds for a lawsuit, dismissal or both. I’d never heard of such a thing and was appalled – but it sure explained a lot.

To add insult to injury the teacher advised us the local press was on its way to interview us and take pictures for the next edition of the paper and asked if we’d stay long enough to talk to them. We agreed but I had my conditions in mind before the reporter ever arrived. First of all, I would not agree to any pictures of me – Ms. Jean only and that was set in stone. Secondly, they could call me “Miss Sis” but if they put my real name or where I lived in their article I’d sue ‘em hands down. Any more calls requesting entertainment for children had just moved to the bottom of my "might do" list. We did our bit with the reporter, loaded up all our stuff and headed for the parking lot.

The first words out of Ms. Jean’s mouth (we’re close friends) was “I was so proud of you when you shut that kid down. I had no idea kids were that disruptive. Things are sure not like they were when I was in school!” I thanked her and kept walking. A few days later I was in the bank and my banker complimented me on my willingness to perform for the kids. His wife was one of the teachers and had told him about our afternoon. I’ve known this guy for a zillion years, consider him a friend, and shared my “untimely incident” about the little boy trying to take my banjo away from me.

He laughed like a loon and then in all seriousness said, “Sis, you can’t do things like that today. That kid’s parents could have sued you seven ways to Sunday!” I let that statement just hang there and as my business was concluded, left the bank. I thought about what he’d said while I drove home and came to one conclusion that made more sense to me than any other.

Miss Sis has had a long and successful run over the years and it may just be time to pack up the banjo and guitar and go to the house – or ride off into the sunset – or whatever will get me the hell out of Dodge (entertaining children) the fastest. This last appearance has left a bad taste in my mouth I can’t get over – not because of the kids but their parents.

Kids that experience no discipline at home by parents' choice -- or at school because it's not allowed -- and are not taught manners in either place -- aren’t candidates for a successful future. Being “gifted” but with no social skills whatsoever, can often result in a life of brilliant but lonely existence. These are the kids that are often bullied for being nerds or in the alternative pompous asses as they have no "acceptable/unacceptable" behavioral map to guide them.

There’s a simple way to prevent that from happening – it’s only one word with two letters, can make a huge difference in a child's entire life -- and should be included in every parent's vocabulary. The word should be imparted to their children on a regular basis – NO!

AngelaBlair©2012 All Rights Reserved.

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Comments 31 comments

michiganman567 profile image

michiganman567 5 years ago from Michigan

Great read. I think that what you could do is rope the kids off and still perform for them. You just need a buffer zone! Voted up! Hopefully you just had a really bad teacher with that bunch.

Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 5 years ago from Central Texas Author

Hi Michiganman -- actually I've found that teachers are on a short leash as far as reprimanding kids -- from powers that be within the school system. Truthfully, I feel sorry for them. On this particular occasion the room was too small to rope off. Must admit, I don't think a jail cell could have stopped the little gremlin that grabbed the banjo. Always appreciate your comments! Best, Sis

lin8t profile image

lin8t 5 years ago from United Kingdom

Oh my goodness! This is really sad, those poor children will grow up lonely expecting things to be just handed to them, then wonder why nobody likes them. They need a dose of supernanny, but then again they're not allowed to be disciplined. Great hub, sad reality. Voted up!

lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida

If we bring up children as though the universe revolved around them -- which so many seem to do -- should we be surprised by the lack of empathy, consideration and manners and the over-abundance of selfishness, greed and entitlement? As ye sow, so shall ye reap. Yep!

Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 5 years ago from Central Texas Author

lin8t -- yep, the kiddos will be the losers in this scenario and seems to be quite prevalent everywhere. Thanks for commenting, Best, Sis

Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 5 years ago from Central Texas Author

Hey Lynda -- how right you are -- and to handicap absolutely brilliant kids by teaching absolutely no social skills is amazing to me. Thanks for commenting. Best, Sis

Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 5 years ago from Central Texas Author

The Finance Hub -- looking forward to your Hubs and do so appreciate you commenting on mine. Best, Sis

FitnezzJim profile image

FitnezzJim 5 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia

Sadly, one wonders if we do not already live in a time when some of those 'spare the rod, spoil the child' children have risen to positions of leadership. And then, we wonder, how much worse can it get?

Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 5 years ago from Central Texas Author

Jim -- you're right -- wondering how much worse it can get is really scary. If one listens to how some of these little darlins' talk to their parents it's understandable how they have no respect for anyone else! Thanks for commenting. Best, Sis

The Frog Prince profile image

The Frog Prince 5 years ago from Arlington, TX

Sis - This made me flash back to this commercial. Amen.


The Frog

Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 5 years ago from Central Texas Author

Frog -- loved the commercial -- absolutely like this bunch of kids I was trying to "entertain!" Thanks for sharing and commenting. Best, Sis

poetvix profile image

poetvix 5 years ago from Gone from Texas but still in the south. Surrounded by God's country.

This was a wonderfully entertaining tale to which I can so relate. I'm a teacher. Further, I am shamed to no end for my profession by what I have no doubt is an under exaggerated portrayal of their behavior. The comment made by the teacher that they can not verbally discipline children is not true. However, there is an art to doing it within the confines of what can and can not get you sued. It's called classroom management and takes years to get good at. First, she should have had a behavior contract with all students outlining exactly what is and is not allowed before anyone gets on the bus. Secondly, never tolerate bad behavior for that only reinforces it and promotes a one up-man-ship mentality among them leading to ever escalating deeds of daring defiance. I'll get off my soap box now.

I loved this and it gives me a twisted pleasure to know someone else sees what I do! God bless.

Brett.Tesol profile image

Brett.Tesol 5 years ago from Thailand

Wow, what a story. As a teacher I can understand your troubles. You are right, although more so in the west, the kids have all the support and protection legally and the teachers get ZERO. Verbally reprimanding a child can be termed as 'abuse' ... it is getting stupid and unfortunately the parents seem to be supporting this with increasing lawsuits and chasing the extra $$. As sad situation that needs to change or have a new discipline system installed!!

Thanks, SOCIALLY SHARED and Tweeted.

PatriciaTL profile image

PatriciaTL 5 years ago from Lehigh Valley

I really enjoyed reading this and certainly can empathize with your frustration. As a former teacher, I was appalled at the behavior of both the students and the teacher you encountered. I totally agree with poetvix. Classroom management skills must be employed for any kind of meaningful learning to take place. For a teacher to use the "threat" of parental harassment as an excuse for not maintaining some standard of decorum is inexcusable.

Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 5 years ago from Central Texas Author

Poetvix, I'm not sure I explained the teacher's position in it's entirety. I found her to be an educated, dedicated individual. Her explanation to us was she was basically hamstrung as to what her options were -- although not in detail. I certainly mean no unkindness to her nor how she handled the situation. Truth is, I felt sorry for her as an educator or more importantly as another human being as she was embarrassed. The point I was making in the Hub -- and you obviously understood it is our educators are under great, underserved, and absolutely ridiculous pressure to put up with children that should be chained in the back yard, fed and watered as needed. I'm afraid old age brings one to the bottom line and this was written as I saw it. Hat's off to those of you brave enough to wade is such deep water. I truly appreciate your comments and in depth understanding. Best, Sis

Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 5 years ago from Central Texas Author

Brett -- hopefully you'll read my answer to Poetvix -- I was not only appalled at the behavior of these kids I felt SORRY for the teacher. It seems a sorry state of affairs when a teacher, because of stupid, liberal B.S. can't control her classroom to further their education and enrich their lives. Thanks so very much for commenting. Best, Sis

Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 5 years ago from Central Texas Author

Patricia TL -- yeppers -- even our schools are a mell of a hess and the tail wags the dog. I'm personally on the side of teachers that have to cope with this B.S. each and every day. That was the purpose of the Hub and hopefully others will understand it -- as have other teacher commenters -- and know that some of us understand what teachers have to deal with. Thanks so much for commenting. Best, Sis

Brett.Tesol profile image

Brett.Tesol 5 years ago from Thailand

Hey Angela,

Nice reply. I think that teachers deserve more support legally and from the parents, but as the new generation of 'no discipline' become parents, it is not likely to happen until things start to really go downhill ... like it has started to in the UK.

Teaching has many ties, but thankfully I have mastered what I call the "killer's look" it is a look that is combined with a certain voice that suggests I am about to explode, and 'you really won't like me when I'm angry' (yea, I know, big green monster's line lol). It is amazing how well it works!

Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 5 years ago from Central Texas Author

Brett -- love it, love it -- so glad you've got "the look" -- I tried it on the banjo snatcher and he acted like I wasn't in the room. As to the voice -- I was close to screaming loud and long so did my best to keep my voice steady (and in retrospect I should have screamed -- probably would have scared the bejesus out of the little brat (and he was -- certifiable). Best, Sis

PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas

This story was quite entertaining and explains a lot about the behavior I see by the parents of these kids: People who don't believe the rules are meant for them, that they are not required to wait in lines, or hold a door open for the elderly or acknowledge the existence or rights of others. I taught adults at a business school for a short while and was quite surprised at some of their behaviors in a school setting. Good one, Sis. You made the story funny but it is really quite sad.

Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 5 years ago from Central Texas Author

Hi Peg -- It is a sad story and the first time I became aware of how limited teachers are as far as disciplining kids. Must admit, the kids were a bit of an eye-opener, too for this old lady. Times they have a-changed dramatically! Thanks so much for commenting. Best/Sis

WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

One of these days, I'm going to look up Dr. Spock's grave and water the grass.

That man is responsible for the brats of today.

Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 5 years ago from Central Texas Author

Will -- truer words were never spoken and please do honor Dr. Spock as you described. This occasion was a real eye-opener for me. I had no ideas kids were this out of control or that basically their teachers hands were tied. Time's marching on but to a far different drummer than I remember. Thanks for commenting! Best/Sis

Dale Hyde profile image

Dale Hyde 5 years ago from Tropical Paradise on Planet X

Great hub Angela! I am always amazed at the variety of topics you are able to write about and share! A great skill. Most insightful and informative! Thanks!

Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 5 years ago from Central Texas Author

The variety of topics comes from living so long, Dale -- been lots of places and enjoyed lots of things. You're always so kind to stop by and comment and I trulyl appreciate it. Thanks so much. Best/Sis

Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas

Unless teachers are independently wealthy, their biggest concern is being dismissed or charged with a crime. It is the school that would be sued if a teacher or anyone connected to the school (via invitation to perform, etc.) was found negligent or considered to have assaulted a student. Schools have the biggest concerns in that area, unless as I say, a teacher has money/property worth going after.

Personally, I would refuse to perform for children except under the strictest conditions and I would require a contract to enforce it. Sad that it's come to that. I would not take expensive instruments children are unlikely to appreciate to a performance of this sort either.

Just for these performances, get a banjo from China -- it may have child repellent built in! (Just kidding.) Unfortunately you might have to wear a toxic chemical suit and double Laytex gloves to play it, but it sounds like you needed your own body guards at the very least anyway.

Seriously, some children today really have no parental discipline or guidance. Agree, parents are not doing their children any favors by allowing them to behave this way. No one wants to be around children like this -- often not even other children.

Instead of blaming society, we need to blame parents who think of their children as cute pets who can't be disciplined because they won't understand, or because they fear they may somehow stifle their child's creativity.

Very interesting hub. Voting you up -- and interesting -- and useful. Sharing with my followers.

Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Au fait -- appreciate your astute comments. After this "incident" I've just resigned from entertaining grade school children -- kind of a matter of picking my battles. I agree -- unruly chldren shouldn't be a teacher's problem as manners and discipline begin with the parents and should be reflected in the child. Ah, times they have a-changed! Best/Sis

Man from Modesto profile image

Man from Modesto 4 years ago from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California)

Great story. The work of psychologists agrees with your position. The IQ, intelligence quotient, is no longer considered a factor of success. It has no correlation with individual achievement. However, having a brainy person in a group directly affects groups performance- as long as the IQ gap is not too large.

Instead, psychologists are now exploring "emotional intelligence" as the quality that best predicts success in life. Those who can maintain professional and polite calm in stressful situations are those who succeed best in life.

Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Man from Modesto -- appreciate your astute comments. If I never believed it before I believe it now -- intelligence quotient is no longer a factor of success. Thanks for stopping by! Best/Sis

Waldo Numbly profile image

Waldo Numbly 4 years ago from Mountain Wilderness

We live in a culture of "child worship." Children are spoiled and out of control. I know it sounds blasphemous, but I really don't like young people.

Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Hello Waldo -- nope, you don't sound blasphemous -- I've found there's some kiddos I'm not too fond of, either! Thanks for commenting! Best/Sis

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