On Tuesday, I’m supposed to go to court again.
If I go, a student who threatened me and threatened other students in my classroom will be there, possibly with another student to help defend himself against me.
I requested a temporary restraining order and received one so that I could teach my night class in peace without worrying about whether said student was going to comeback and either try to kill us or harass us. That was a month ago. I needed the restraining order because since the student in question wasn’t brandishing a weapon other than his fists and his history he could not automatically be kicked out of class.
NOt that a piece of paper does much.
I wrote one of the powers that be at the school and she wrote back. “I’m sorry you felt threatened.” Every bone in my body raged against that sentence: I didn’t feel threatened–I was threatened.
I’m sure the school thinks I’m slightly nutty. I would like to tell them why they think that and why I’m not but it won’t make any sense, just as it won’t make sense before a judge either.
I know this student. He has one of the most over reaching senses of entitlement I’ve ever witnessed. He refuses to work. Basketball will save him. And if I know what’s good for me? I wouldn’t fail him. He rocked back and forth in a chair not one foot from me the night he went crazy, chanting under his breath like a mantra I better not get no F/I better not get no F/You give me an F and you see what happens…” he’d trail off and then get back to his point again.
I used to not mind joking around with him. He had a sweetness to him, even if he was ridiculously inept at basic understandings of stories where the basic meaning was not hiding.
Not too long ago, we’d read an essay by Lidia Yuknavitch talking about male violence and male silencing of women in our culture. He summed up the essay by saying ‘she survived bad things and has a family now so she’s over it.” Ummmmmmm that wasn’t the point? But that wasn’t the point was the point of everything he did.
And then in February, he went, as they say, postal in my classroom.
And a couple of weeks ago, in a courtroom, he appeared with one of those aging hippy types we get up here that sees the good in everyone, so much good that she can’t see the snow job before her. She’s along as a character witness to prove to the judge that he’s a good kid and I’m a bad teacher or maybe somehow that I deserved it. Deserved some kid to stand up a foot from me, screaming at me that if he gets the grade he deserves something will be fall me. Slashed tires? Slashed face? Do I need to wait around to find out?
It was a threat. He is a threat. He’s got testosterone poisoning running through his veins. I have aging hippies saying hey man, he’s just being a kid. Chill. I need to chill. I need to feel sorry that he reads and writes on a 6th grade level. And I did feel for him until he threatened me.
But see, I got kids. Two kids. Two kids who need a mother in one piece. And I’m Chicana. I have no white guilt running through my veins. I don’t stare at my students and think about their shitty upbringings any more than I stare at myself and think of mine.
And what did I get from this experience? I got a classroom of local kids being supportive. I got a nervous look over my shoulder as I’m getting into my car at night. I got a campus full of nervous administrators hoping I don’t press the matter and that it all goes away.
I want it to go away. I want him to go away. I moved to the middle of nowhere to get away from this. I don’t teach high school so I don’t have to deal with this. And yet it’s all here on my doorstep.
The student never apologized for his behavior. Not once. Nada.
On Tuesday he wants to stand up in court and call me a liar and pretend he didn’t go postal in my class. I don’t know. Maybe he’s a meth head. Maybe he honestly doesn’t remember his violence. Or perhaps he is so entrenched in America’s culture of violence that he doesn’t recognize what violence looks like anymore. Perhaps to him? It’s just like breathing.
He wrote something telling in a reflection on an essay a two months ago. Between the third grade syntax and the text slang of contemporary American students’ papers there was a line about Yuknativich’s “Explicit Violence” essay where he praised the author for ‘moving on’ and not dwelling on the violence that befell her first thirty years of living. That is essentially what women are asked to do. It is our job to ‘move on.’
That’s what I’ve been asked to do by him, by the college, by the nice aging hippy liberal social worker chick helping that student with his case. I am being asked to move on from his violence and forget it happened. He gets to walk around the school chest out like a rooster with nothing resembling an apology on his lips.
The culture of violence. It continues.