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The Human Pretzel

My hip was hurting last night and even after a couple of Ibuprofen I still slept poorly. The pain is the result of a 15 second classroom melodrama:

One moment I was asking Kenny to wash his hands. The next he was thrashing around on the floor screaming, “No! No! No!” like soap and water were torture devises from the Spanish Inquisition. He flung himself against my shins. I lost my balance and grabbed for the bookcase. It teetered. I flailed some more and grabbed for the easel. It tottered. I flailed some more.

I tried to step forward to regain my balance. Kenny rolled forward as well. Now I was off balance with one foot on the floor and nowhere to step. I was going to fall on a four year-old child. Unless — I jumped.

And landed on his hand. I made the step as large as I could. I put only my toes on the ground and it was my heel that touched him, so he felt very little pressure. Luckily I was wearing tennis shoes and the soles were soft. I didn’t leave a mark on his hand — not even any dirt — but he shrieked like he was dying.

I stopped with my feet spread dang near two yards apart, hanging by my fingernails from the edge of the desk with one hand, with my other hand on the floor and my butt in the air, I looked down and snapped, “Enough!” He stared at me in open-mouthed surprise. “Are you trying to kill me?” I demanded.

Kenny looked up at me indignantly. “You hurted me!” he wailed.

Of course. How foolish of me. The whole incident was clearly my fault. After all, I took the job in pre-K.

Quilly is the pseudonym of Charlene L. Amsden, who lives on The Big Island in Hawaii. When she is not hanging out with Amoeba, she is likely teaching or sewing. Or she could be cooking, taking photographs, or even writing. But if she's not doing any of that, she's probably on Facebook or tinkering with her blog.


  1. Melli — I am not the first person that he’s knocked down. It is on record that he throws himself at people’s feet. We’re supposed to be teaching him not to. You can see my success ….

  2. That child sounds like a sweetheart. I’m thinking spiked anklets would keep him away from your feet or wrap him in inflatable inner tubes so he sort of weebles and doesn’t fall down.

  3. i know its not right
    or politically correct
    and perhaps
    even downright mean

    but i would have wanted
    to give that brat a
    and jam him in a corner

  4. I’m wondering what behaviour management strategies are in place at this school. If he’s not getting that he’s a danger to others by behaving in this manner, maybe a new approach is required. I’m sure you could think of something equal parts creative and effective!

  5. Dear Quilly,

    When you figure out the solution, please let me know. I promise to take careful notes.

    Hobbled in the Heartland

  6. Nessa — the inner tubes might work, the spiky ankle braclets — not so much.

    Morgan – thank you for looking for the positive. I’ll keep that in mind.

    Mike — what planet are you from?!

    Dark Ages — I have pre-K. Special Ed kids. This one is Autistic. He doesn’t do it to hurt. He just hasn’t learned any other way to express his frustrations. We’re teaching him. (Mostly.)

    Mumma — see the comment above. We are the behavior management people. Our students come to us at ages 3-4 because they have handicaps — physical, mental, emotional — that might make it difficult for them in a regular ed classroom. Our job is try to to get them ready. Most kids make it. A few don’t and they have to stay in special classes until they are considered “safe” and will neither hurt themselves or others.

    Brig — patience, persistence, consistency. Today was a good day. He even said good-bye on the way out the door. Tomorrow, who knows.

    Dr. John — much better if they’ve been through our program.

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