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Too Much Pressure

You know I am currently teaching special needs pre-K children. They range in age from three to five. Each of them has some degree of developmental delay. Preschool is designed to help them “catch up” cognitively with their peers before they enter kindergarten. Most of them succeed, but some of them will never bridge the gap.

David just turned five years old. This is his last year in pre-K, and his third year in Ms. Jewls’ class. After almost two years struggling with the concept, David finally potty trained. He has been out of Pull-Ups for a couple of months now with only one accident at school, and that while he was napping.

Today as we were getting ready for lunch, David was in line to wash his hands when he suddenly yelled, “Potty,” and turned to leave the room. Chez and K.K., goofing off as usual, were scooting across the floor on their bottoms and in his way. David got confused trying to go around them and burst into tears.

He stumbled past the junior acrobats and started to run, still crying — and peeing. He ran across the classroom, out the door and down the hall to the bathroom. Rather then standing in one spot and making a single puddle, he splattered and splashed all the way. Once he got to the bathroom he stood in the corner and cried. Ms. Alyce took his clean clothes and the baby wipes, and went to clean him up and tell him it was okay, accidents happen.

David wasn’t easy to console. What bothered me most was his little chant as he sobbed, “David stupid. David stupid. David stupid.” I guarantee he did not learn that in our room.

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 wanted to cry with him.

    Mumma — I so don’t want to blame the family, but David was a change of life baby and he has two “tween” siblings. I have heard rumors that they are spoiled, sassy girls who think “they’re all that.”

  2. Hi Quilly! Haven’t seen you in ages! This story is so sad- that poor little boy. I sure hope you can do something to help him change the way he thinks about himself. Our son-in-law, who still has ADHD, even at 27 years old, went all the way through school being told (even by teachers) that he was “stupid”. He came to believe it and still does to this day. His has been a tough road, which is not about to become much easier, even as he gets out of jail and tries to start over.

  3. Brig — yes. I’d like a few moments with whomever is calling him names.

    Cindy — hi! When I saw your name at Bill’s the other day I thought I should come visit your blog, but I was pressed for time and then I forgot! Now that your link is here, I’ll be right over!

    It is going to take quite a bit to repair David’s self-esteem — starting with removing whomever is lowering it, but I do so fear it’s his family. We won’t have to worry too much about David being ridiculed by his teachers. He is probably going to be in special classes all his life. His mental handicap is severe and makes him a danger to himself and others. He has to be monitored constantly.

  4. Well somebody told him he was stupid and now you have an uphill battle to teach him that he’s not. Adults are so careless about what they say tio children.

  5. for some reason i couldn’t comment when i first came here but there’s little i can add…
    i feel sorry for the kid… he seems to be trying hard but… damn, what damage words can do!

  6. When the Bible says we are made in God’s image, I think it means because we have the power of speech. With speech we can create and destroy. In the beginning, God said ….

  7. This makes me feel like crying…….for so many reasons. Because I know where this will lead, no matter where it is coming from, home or school. Once a child’s self esteem is crushed it over shadows everything.

  8. Poor little guy. There was a story here in Houston about a kindergarten teacher who got into trouble for calling the students stupid and other things. I am still having a hard time figuring out why she would treat such young children that way. Hope David is doing ok now.

  9. Jill — damaged self-esteem can take years to repair. Our self-concept isn’t formed by how we feel about ourself. It is formed based on what the people we love and respect have to say to and about us. This moment, David seems fine, but is he really? Probably not.

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