Boy, 10, Leaves School — Which Doesn’t Notice His Absence. Bad, but The End of the World?

A tdetabfrei
note asked me to take a look at this story, about a boy, 10, who walked out of his school and no one noticed he was gone.
Which is, admittedly, egregious….but not necessarily dangerous. We’re talking a 10 year old, not a toddler. And as the note correctly remarked:
Of course, I know you share my frustration with the tone of this article. It belabors the idea of all the horrible things that could have happened to this 10 year old.
And to be fair, the mother has every right to be angry with the school, because, really, a teacher should be aware that a child he or she dismissed to go to the bathroom hadn’t come back after 5 minutes.
However, I find the school’s (over)reaction and solution to be frustrating. Rather than reprimanding the teacher and moving on, they’re now requiring ALL teachers to do frequent headcounts during the day, taking away instructional time (which will likely be made up by cutting recess time– another big problem); and now kids have to have a buddy just to go to the bathroom which means disrupting classroom time for another student.
On the bright side, (although the story doesn’t play it this way), the boy did get help from STRANGERS– homeless ones at that. The homeless are made out to be menacing boogeymen of the community, but here they are, helping a lost, distraught kid. Too bad the story didn’t play up that angle.
Anyhow, thought you would enjoy this.
Thanks for all you do to make parenting in a time of anxiety more sane.
P.S. The story mentions the “chilly afternoon” of August 19th.  The high was 68 degrees, low of 56. Unseasonable for sure, but hardly cause for hypothermia.
Society likes to imagine any circumstances that are irregular represent huge threats to kids. That justifies both overreaction, which we are addicted to, and media attention, which starts the cycle all over again.
Yes, the school might want to reconsider how it keeps track of its kids. But society might want to reconsider what we label as high risk that isn’t. Including: A kid who is not in school at a particular time, an adult who does not have a home at a particular time, and a walk that is not particularly far on a day that is not particularly hot or cold. – L


To be unsupervised is not automatically to be in peril.

To be unsupervised is not automatically to be in peril.


86 Responses to Boy, 10, Leaves School — Which Doesn’t Notice His Absence. Bad, but The End of the World?

  1. BL September 10, 2015 at 8:13 am #

    “Halfway through a music class at a Springfield elementary school, a 10-year-old boy struggling with anxiety asks to go to the bathroom.”

    Yeah, I’ve heard music like that, too.


  2. marie September 10, 2015 at 8:16 am #

    ~ “Once everyone told him how scared he should have been, it really hit him,” she said. “He knows how bad it could have been.” ~

    Good. Now the boy is properly terrified and he understands that his own experience–a walk with nothing terrible happening–cannot be trusted. Thank goodness ‘everyone’ told him what might have happened…but was still far, far from likely to happen in that mile and in those two hours.

    (Also…swollen feet? Maybe the kid has other health issues not mentioned.)

  3. Tim September 10, 2015 at 8:23 am #

    They told him how scared he should have been. On the mean streets of Springfield, Mo. What about on Saturday when he’s walking down to the Kwik-E-Mart for a Squishee? How scared should he be then?

  4. Sandra September 10, 2015 at 8:27 am #

    I did the same thing when I was in elementary school. I made it all the way home and then went back. Mom was not too upset. They just sent me back to class and the world went on. But I guess it was a different time. Sounds like the boy needs some attention and understanding.

  5. Liz K September 10, 2015 at 8:33 am #

    It is a sign of the times that the reaction was to blame the school for a kid’s bad choices, rather than to hold the kid accountable. I have sympathy for a child with anxiety issues, but schools have resources for kids (counselors, administrators, etc.) with problems. At 10 years old, kids know better than to just leave school.

  6. Beth September 10, 2015 at 8:40 am #

    I “loved” (read: didn’t love) this comment on the story: “buzzers should be installed on all doors alerting cameras to go off directly on the door that just went off”

    Another terrific idea to make our schools more and more like prisons.

  7. Shannon September 10, 2015 at 9:18 am #

    As usual, the school will put in new security measures that will take away from class time because of an isolated incident. How many schools are there across the country? How many kids in each school? And lastly, how often does this happen? Despite the fact that this isn’t something that happens every day, if it happens at all, everyone will freak out and demand more prison-like security instead of *gasp* talking to the kids about not leaving school. God forbid we should teach the kids how to behave instead of just putting band-aids on everything to placate the parents.

  8. Caiti September 10, 2015 at 9:19 am #

    I heard a similar story from my now ex-husband’s mom when we first started dating. Apparently my then- 6 year old ex husband had walked out of first grade and apparently talked his way onto a school bus meant for half-day kindergarteners, assuring the driver that he was “supposed” to be on the bus and directing her to his house since it wasn’t on her route. I only wish I had heeded the inherent warning in this story that my ex has always been a very believable liar and quite the con artist.

  9. Jeremy September 10, 2015 at 9:24 am #

    I actually felt the tone of the article was reasonable. For instance, the author used scare quotes on “severe”, implying that she does not believe the situation was severe at all, and I thought the voice she used to discuss the homeless was also fairly positive.

  10. ChicagoDad September 10, 2015 at 9:36 am #

    My grandmother at this age was caring for all of her siblings during the Depression because her mom had passed, and her dad was lucky enough to have a railroad job that had him constantly traveling. My mom walked a mile to school at this age to a one room country school house that was heated by a wood stove–I doubt it had a phone, let alone a buzzer at the door. At 10, I biked all over town after school; my best friend and I would wander and explore until dinner time.

    This 10 year old made a bad decision to cut school. Instead of enduring the consequences of his decision, he is shown that the school is to blame (not him) and that he was or could have been a victim. This is not how you teach a kid to be responsible for himself. Even if he has special needs, or an anxiety issue, he is clearly able to wander about and should learn how to do it responsibly.

  11. Rick September 10, 2015 at 9:44 am #

    – Police guards. Check.
    – Metal detectors. Check.
    – Lock downs. Check
    – Periodic head counts. Check.
    – Contraband searches. Check.

    Are we missing anything?

  12. Amy September 10, 2015 at 9:51 am #


    They’re going to lock the kids in the school to prevent this happening again. Other schools will get scared and follow suit. Then there will be a fire, and kids will die because the doors are locked.

  13. Amy September 10, 2015 at 9:51 am #

    Rick – the only difference is that the kids have to pay for their lunches, while the convicts get their meals for free.

  14. BL September 10, 2015 at 9:53 am #

    “Then there will be a fire, and kids will die because the doors are locked.”

    What’s more important? Children’s lives or “respeck-mah-authoriteh!”?

  15. Warren September 10, 2015 at 9:56 am #

    Hell when I was in school, it was the student at fault for skipping class. Now it is the school’s fault?

    If this had been me at 10, my dad would have marched my butt into the school to apologize to the teacher and staff for all the trouble I caused. Been grounded for whatever time, and that would have been the end of it.

  16. Aaron September 10, 2015 at 9:59 am #

    When I was in fourth grade — about 9 or 10 I guess — I was afraid that a bully was going to beat me up after school, principally because the bully said “I’m going to kick your ass after school.” So when they started lining people up, I made a point to be first in line. The door opened, the teacher said “bye” and I ran as fast as I could… all the way home. I thought it was weird that the crossing guard wasn’t in her usual spot, but whatever.

    Got home. My dad wasn’t home from work yet. He was a high school teacher so he was usually home a few minutes before or after me. Looked at the clock… it was 1:30. DOH! I realized it was 3rd recess not the end of the day. ( yes… three recesses… yet somehow despite the crippling amount of time we wasted playing kickball, almost everyone my age knows how to read.)

    I called my dad at work. Left a message. Couldn’t figure out what to do, panicked, thought I’d be in huge trouble. Decided to walk back to school, figuring I’d be in less trouble. I figured they’d be looking all over for me.

    Knocked on the door of the classroom. It was clear no one noticed I was gone, the teacher turned a little pale and said “where the hell were you?” ( she was mean, too )

    I told her. She sent a note to the office to call my dad and told me I was stupid for not knowing what time it was. No one asked me why I was in such a hurry to leave, or really anything except for laughing at what an airhead I was.

    So. I survived. There’s probably a happy medium between what school was like in the early 80’s and the full on locked down institutions that they have now.

  17. Maggie September 10, 2015 at 10:07 am #

    Since when is 68 degrees a chilly afternoon? For most humans, that temperature is just about perfect. Not too hot, not too cold.

    Frequent head counts? Waste of time. How frequent is “frequent”? Every hour? Every 15 minutes?

    Buddy system for bathroom breaks. Really sucks for the kid who has to poop badly and knows his “buddy” is standing right there. Or the girl who has her period. Can lead to lots of embarrassment.

  18. Diane September 10, 2015 at 10:28 am #

    I think I’d be most concerned about my 10 year old’s fitness level, if his feet were swollen after only walking a mile or two. Poor kid.

  19. tdr September 10, 2015 at 10:31 am #

    Aaron, you forgot the rest of the story.

    Did the bullies kick your ass after school?

  20. BL September 10, 2015 at 10:32 am #

    “I think I’d be most concerned about my 10 year old’s fitness level, if his feet were swollen after only walking a mile or two. Poor kid.”

    And how did his glasses get broken?

  21. Jim Collins September 10, 2015 at 10:33 am #

    Anything involving a school, school bus or a student is guaranteed media hype. One of the local districts had a student walk out from between two buses and was hit and killed by another bus. The local news has been all over this. Was the bus drive intoxicated or on drugs? Was the bus driver trained properly? What is the school district going to do to prevent this from happening again? Is anybody going to be fired?

    The problem is that the student who was killed was 15 years old and according to witnesses ran right between two buses and into the street because his girlfriend was across the street. The bus driver had no time to react. I have sympathy for his family, but, the fault lies squarely with the student.

    Yesterday, I’m sitting in traffic, when a truck comes down the shoulder of the road and pulls off into a vacant lot. The truck had lost its brakes and was able to stop safely. Traffic was backed up for about a half hour, but, nobody was hurt. Later I was at a club I belong to when one of the guys asked me “Isn’t that your truck on the news?” I looked and they were showing my truck the school bus on my left and the truck in the lot with the caption “Breaking News! Runaway Truck Narrowly Misses Crowded School Bus”. The video was from their helicopter.

    There was no way for that truck to hit the bus. My truck was big enough that it would have stopped it. There were no students on the bus and it had happened over four hours ago.

  22. Havva September 10, 2015 at 10:33 am #

    Over the summer when I was 10, several mornings a week I got up early, got my lunch ready, rode my bike about a half mile to the theater, waited for my former teachers, unpacked and put props into position, managed a few lighting effects, escorted the preschool and kindergarten kids to the bathroom, and made sure none of the little ones missed their cue to go on stage. Ate my lunch, helped out some more, packed everything back up, and then rode my bike back home, or stopped by a friend’s house and called my mom to tell her where I was. The only help I got with that was my mom protected that block of time from double booking, and once or twice my dad gave me a hand packing my lunch because he was packing his at the same time.

    And now, rather than a 10 year old being trusted to keep track of preschool and kindergarten kids, they get to be tracked and treated like one.

  23. Shannon September 10, 2015 at 10:37 am #

    “– Police guards. Check.
    – Metal detectors. Check.
    – Lock downs. Check
    – Periodic head counts. Check.
    – Contraband searches. Check.

    Are we missing anything?”

    Our future most likely holds going through a TSA like security checkpoint for all adults entering the building. Frisking and strip searches just to go to your kid’s class play.

  24. Michelle September 10, 2015 at 10:51 am #

    I feel like other commenters are not actually reading the story, as you’re complaining about the LEAST ridiculous parts. Did you not see that they are going to make kids sign in and out to go to the bathroom?!? And this:

    “A Springfield school official, citing the “severity” of the situation, told the News-Leader the district called the state’s Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline to report itself for failing to provide supervision for the boy.”

    That’s straight out of the Onion!

    As for some of the other comments. The mom is being hysterical, but she’s not acting like her poor little angel did nothing and blaming the school. The kid is grounded “indefinitely,” and it is pretty ridiculous that the school NEVER realized he was gone until the mom had picked him up and was wondering why the school never called her.

    Amy and BL, the article specifically explained that the the doors can’t be locked because it’s a fire hazard.

    Maggie, “frequent” is every time the kids come back from somewhere other than their class. In other words, if 30 kids go to recess, do a quick count to make sure 30 kids come back.

    IMO, the head counts are the most reasonable thing in this article. I always did that as a preschool teacher, and still do it as a mom of 8. I’m surprised it wasn’t already SOP.

  25. Emily September 10, 2015 at 10:58 am #

    1. To be fair, this boy is facing consequences for leaving school–his mother grounded him. However, I agree that head counts and bathroom buddies and buzzers on the doors at school, are just a P.I.T.A., and won’t really make the school safer.

    2. RE: Bathroom buddies–yes, embarrassment is a problem, as are potential accidents for little kids (and even older kids) who try to “hold it” rather than suffering the indignity of having to be escorted. Also, there’s the potential for mischief, if two kids leave together and goof off. Tracking times is embarrassing too, because there are plenty of legitimate bathroom activities that take a bit longer than normal; or even potential mishaps, like a girl getting her period mid-class.

    3. For an adult suffering from anxiety and panic attacks (like me; I’ve lived with it since I was fourteen), stepping out for a break (or even going home, if it’s really bad) is a legitimate coping tool. Telling someone first is ideal, but failing that, afterwards will usually suffice. I don’t think this boy felt safe telling his teacher what was going on, so he requested a bathroom break. He probably tried to collect himself in the bathroom, and went outside when he couldn’t, and just kept walking. But, two points here–one, kids have fewer mental and emotional resources to deal with panic attacks, so it seems cruel to deny them a practical resource as well. Two, if the boy couldn’t tell his teacher he was feeling unwell, then maybe his not feeling safe at school preceded the incident. Maybe there was an underlying concern that precipitated it (bullying, academic trouble, et cetera), or maybe it was just the classroom environment. Either way, the school is essentially responding to a child’s panic attack, by having a panic attack of their own. When an individual panics, all their defenses go up, unnecessarily, into a “fight, flight, or freeze” reaction. By instituting all these new security measures, instead of just talking to the boy (and possibly doing a “don’t run away from school” announcement), the school is responding to panic with panic, and making the learning environment even more anxiety-inducing.

  26. kimberly September 10, 2015 at 11:00 am #

    I think you are being to easy on the boy and his family. He is 10 yo – old enough to be held accountable for breaking the rules and old enough to know better. So unless he was being abused/bullied at school the blame falls on him for breaking the rules. (Assuming he is neurotypical I’m sure if he wasn’t the hair pulling and chest flailing would be 100% more)

    When I was in 5th grade/10 yo I reached the breaking point. When the class bully hit me in class -I told the teacher I was done and left walking home several times. My parents backed me up. Long story short I was seriously injured by a kick to the throat a threat of a lawsuit and criminal charges including failure to protect a child against the admin – he was gone and I was able to learn. So if something similar is happening here my position will change.

    As for the school’s solution – some good some bad
    1. Sign in and out – I’ve done this especially when I had kids being pulled left and right for G&T, Resource, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy. That way if we had a fire/fire drill or lock down (We had 1 practice a year announced but several real incidents including a teacher being attacked by unbalanced parent) I could tell the principal where my kids were supposed to be. Also when I have had math phobic kids who would have “bathroom emergency”‘ that lasted the entire class. That way the parents and I could work together to deal with the real issue not argue about bathroom breaks.

    2. Buddy system – FOR 5th GRADERS ARE YOU KIDDING ME – for Kinder and 1st at the beginning of they year when they might get lost sure. But 5th grade that is stupid and your asking for more trouble than you are solving. Do you know how much time you will lose while they have water fight in the bathroom and take a route back to class that includes a tour of Timbuktu

    3. Rosters to specialty teachers – Yes and no. written ones daily would be a waste of time. Simply telling them Johnny is absent, Debra is in the nurse’s office with a lose tooth, and Steven is in the bathroom is all that is needed and is simply polite (They do need a current up to date list of students names and contact numbers so that if they need to talk to parents they can. Not to mention information on medical conditions/accommodations and any difficulty going on in a kid’s life)

    4. Head counts – Formal ones no, but I’ve never known a teacher who doesn’t count heads when leaving or returning to the classroom. Not to mentioned looking around that all seats are filled. I count heads when out with friends and no kids present.

  27. Papilio September 10, 2015 at 11:20 am #

    @Aaron: Hahaha! I’ve done something similar once (4th grade?), simply by not paying attention… We went outside 15 minutes early to do… whatever, I think ‘study’ the flowers in the neighbors gardens or something (I don’t know, I wasn’t there 🙂 ). Anyway, I thought it was the end of the day (absent-minded me: I didn’t even notice that no one other kids were around yet…) and just went home like always. So I got there, my parents were sitting in the kitchen having tea and my mother looked at the clock: I was 15 minutes early. She just called the school to explain what had happened and that was that.

    Re the ‘chilly afternoon’: 20 degrees C is a perfectly nice afternoon in my book!

  28. lollipoplover September 10, 2015 at 11:27 am #

    “I want some kind of policy in place where these children are accounted for every minute of the day,” said Carcione, who lives in Willard. “If a child goes to the bathroom and he doesn’t come back in five minutes, you check on him.”

    He was 10! He left school without permission, violating student code of conduct, and walked to Mickey D’s because of *anxiety*. Because fast food makes everything better. By turning this around on the school, you teach this child NOTHING of facing severe consequences for his behavior. It’s the CHILD’S fault this incident occurred(why is this not cutting class?!) Demanding children not take more than 5 minutes in the bathroom because a 10 year-old cut class is not the solution!

    “Once everyone told him how scared he should have been, it really hit him,” she said. “He knows how bad it could have been.”

    I think we know where the source of this student’s anxiety comes from. Get help for this FAMILY. Don’t turn schools into a jails and implement senseless expensive security theater because this 10 year-old cannot follow basic student conduct. He cut class and went to McDonalds!

  29. Beth September 10, 2015 at 11:42 am #

    “I was afraid that a bully was going to beat me up after school, principally because the bully said “I’m going to kick your ass after school.””

    This is in the running for Best Sentence I’ve Read Today. I think it’s going to win!

  30. Emily September 10, 2015 at 12:02 pm #

    I don’t think the boy cut class to get food at McDonald’s; I think he was legitimately having anxiety issues, left school, went for a walk and got lost, and went into the restaurant to call his mother, judging by the fact that he was crying and asking to call her. I think he chose McDonald’s because it looked familiar to him, and therefore “safe.” If this was his first time having a panic attack (or second, or third–I started having them at 14, but didn’t figure out my triggers for a year or two after that), then he probably had no idea what was happening to him. Anyway, I think the right thing to do would be to proceed as if he did really have a panic attack. If he did he’ll get help, and i; not, the ensuing embarrassment will prevent him from faking again.

  31. lollipoplover September 10, 2015 at 12:08 pm #

    “Yes, the school might want to reconsider how it keeps track of its kids.”

    Stop treating children like they are inert, mindless FedEx packages. Maybe if we treating them as capable and responsible we wouldn’t need procedures to minimize prison escapes.

    Perhaps the children themselves can safety patrol each other and learn that they are smart,respected, capable children and future leaders.
    Or packages of worry.

  32. lollipoplover September 10, 2015 at 12:16 pm #


    “She believes the boy left the school at 12:45 p.m. and between Williams and the McDonald’s — more than a mile away along busy streets — he stopped at several businesses including a pet store, a library and a hobby shop.”

    Yeah, looks like he made some stops for his anxiety at the pet store, library, and hobby shop before hitting Mickey D’s.

  33. Vicky September 10, 2015 at 12:27 pm #

    The ten year old boy is 100% responsible for his skipping school. He is old enough to know better and not to be constantly supervised as a younger child is.
    Imho he needs his arse busted and some form of ‘grounding’.

    Proverbs 13:24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.
    Proverbs 22:15 Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
    Proverbs 23:13 Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.
    Proverbs 23:14 Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.

  34. Bruce September 10, 2015 at 12:31 pm #

    “Once everyone told him how scared he should have been, it really hit him,” she said. “He knows how bad it could have been.” And he has “anxiety issues.” Hmm.

  35. Julie September 10, 2015 at 12:54 pm #

    I know that this happened at our school about 6 or 7 years ago. One of the first graders decided she was going to walk the 2 blocks home because the other girls were being “mean” to her because she had blonde hair. The issue wasn’t necessarily the teacher and aide not keeping track of the kids. The parents were in the process of adopting 2 troubled kids, the girl didn’t like that she wasn’t an only child, and *really* just wanted to be home with mom because parents had been talking about homeschooling her. She was pretty sneaky about making her way out of the school…and she would have likely found an opportunity at some point regardless of what the school did.

    I am a Girl Scout leader. One troop topped 37 girls last year. We had lots of adults to help, but it was still difficult to keep all the kids accounted for. Regardless of age, troops in our area practice the buddy system AND that one never leaves the group without speaking with a leader first (being respectful). It helps things run more smoothly for us.

  36. John September 10, 2015 at 12:55 pm #

    Quotes from article:

    “She thanked the couple, offered to buy them dinner, and tried not think about what could have happened if someone else, with different intentions, had found her son”.

    “Once everyone told him how scared he should have been, it really hit him,” she said. “He knows how bad it could have been.”

    These are probably the two most ridiculous notions from this article. The first quote exhibits classic worst-first thinking (what could have happened) and the second quote (how scared he SHOULD have been) convinces kids that everybody is out to get them and that they can trust no one and therefore, it encourages kids to be helpless and fragile, always needing an adult around, particularly a parent. The fact that this boy wasn’t scared speaks volume of the kid’s tenacity and toughness but heaven forbid that we have a young boy who’s tough and tenacious! Apparently that’s not normal in American society.

    This is the 21st century American mindset folks when it comes to kids.

  37. lollipoplover September 10, 2015 at 1:01 pm #

    “Bickel rushed to the restaurant and put her arms around the boy. He appeared OK, suffering only swollen feet and broken eyeglasses. She thanked the couple, offered to buy them dinner, and tried not think about what could have happened if someone else, with different intentions, had found her son.”

    I’m guessing the swollen feet are from the high sodium in the fries. As for the broken glasses, maybe at the pet store he wrestled a boxer puppy or at the hobby shop but probably not during his stop at the library.

    Sorry, this story plays out like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, not No Child Left With Swollen Feet.

  38. Catherine R September 10, 2015 at 1:11 pm #

    At the other end of the time scale. I worked in a elderly care home. One of a chain. Over 3,000 seniors in their care. One choked on a sandwich. Now no one is allowed a sandwich without a written disclaimer and a
    Doctors permission. Sorry but it’s cradle to grave now. I want to shuffle out this life sitting on the bank of a lake, eating a sandwich, while my free range grand children swim just out of sight. They’ll come back and find me, smiling but dead.

  39. TheOtherAnna September 10, 2015 at 1:16 pm #

    If a 10-year-old walked out of school in 1980’s Russia (time/place when I was that age) the only issue would have been between the student and their teacher for that subject (yes, 10-year-olds were in middle school with subjects and separate teachers in different classrooms).

  40. Aaron September 10, 2015 at 1:25 pm #

    tdr: yes, of course. I believe I tried using karate but I didn’t want to hurt him.

    Vicky — Aaron 3:16 says, “if you beat your kids with a rod, you are an asshole.”

  41. Emily Morris September 10, 2015 at 1:35 pm #

    Okay, so shame on the teacher for not noticing the kid had vanished during a bathroom trip, but this kid is the perpetrator. 10-year-olds are responsible for not walking out of school. Now he’s the victim? Wow, kids are incapable these days if they can’t even make a decision without it being someone else’s fault.

  42. Donna September 10, 2015 at 1:42 pm #

    I’d be pretty damn pissed at my child for ditching school, but I’d also be pretty damn pissed at the teacher for failing to notice that my child was missing for almost 2 hours. How oblivious to your students do you have to be to not notice that a child went to music with the rest of the class, but did not return with them? You don’t even ask the rest of the class “hey, where did Johnny go?” While I don’t think it mandates a change in school procedure, I do think it would be reasonable for the principal to look into the quality of attention being paid to the students in this particular classroom.

    “Since when is 68 degrees a chilly afternoon?”

    “Chilly” is relative. It has been 95+ degrees pretty much every day since mid-May where I live. If the high tomorrow is 68, I would probably refer to it as a “chilly” day as it would feel chilly to me after months of miserable heat and is 20 degrees below normal for the time of year. When we get 68 degree days in January, I refer to them as “warm” days.

    That said, it is ridiculous to include it in this article. The day may have been chilly for the time and place, but 68 degrees is not newsworthy or pertinent to the story. I think that you would have to look pretty far and wide to find even a single person who has ever suffered a temperature-related issue at 68 degrees.

  43. Hancock September 10, 2015 at 2:11 pm #

    Problem: kid cuts class

    Solution: lock down entire building, multiple attendance counts, more strict security procedures, reduced privacy, more cameras.

    While they are at it, why don’t they put bars on the windows, instll metal detectors, and add a high security dormitory and medical wing. Not only will their inmates (ahem) children be unable to cut class, they won’t even need to go home or leave the building ever again until their time is served (graduation).

  44. Hancock September 10, 2015 at 2:23 pm #

    Reading through the comments leaves me concerned that many of you see equate school with babysitting. Yes, you send your children to school to get an education, and reasonable supervision should be expected. However, there seems to be this expectation that professional teachers’ first responsibility is to detain each child (against that child’s will or otherwise). No. That expectation is false. A single teacher can not possibly control and keep track every single inmate of their class every second of the day (yes, two hours is a bit much, but a quiet child who doesn’t draw much attention won’t always be missed quickly). A teacher’s duty is to educate, not tie down unwilling students to their desks and force them to comply. If you have a child who does not want to be in classes, it is the parent’s duty to either persuade that child, or provide alternate supervision and education.

  45. Hancock September 10, 2015 at 2:29 pm #


    I am the mother of a reluctant student who hates the environment of a formal classroom and will do all in his power to escape. I never blame his teachers, who have a hundred other responsibilities on their plate.

  46. Hancock September 10, 2015 at 2:32 pm #

    Woops. Should not have said “never”. I have brought up the issue of a boring teacher.

  47. Havva September 10, 2015 at 2:44 pm #

    I have to think stories of this nature are less about coddling children, than they are about coddling parents. I don’t think any parent in the 50’s would want to be quoted saying “He said ‘Mommy, where are you?’ I was confused. My heart was racing. I didn’t know what to do,”

    That isn’t an expression of confusion so much as emotion. She clearly DID know what to do since she did it…. she did ask to speak to the people the boy borrowed the phone from and got his location and what they knew of the situation. Then she went and got her boy. She even remembered to punish him for running away… except even that is all tied up in emotion. “Bickel’s anger set in.” These stories are always about how emotional the parents are. We glorify emotion to the serious detriment of reason.

    If the reporter could have stopped focusing on emotions (and joining in them); perhaps she would have asked how it is that the boy came to have broken glasses and swollen feet? That isn’t a normal outcome from a 1 mile walk, or even a hike. Was he in that state before he left the school? Did he leave school because of something that happened to put him in such a state? Did he make a blind run from the school and get hurt in the process? Do his shoes not fit him properly? How is it that a story supposedly about a boy does so little to actually address.. the boy in question? I’d say because the real headline is “Mother and school frantic after student slips away unnoticed.”

  48. SKL September 10, 2015 at 2:52 pm #

    Not sure if I should admit this, but skipping school was not particularly unusual for us when we were 10yo. 😛 The only danger was what our parents would do to our rear end if we were caught.

    We were not usually caught, by the way. Back then the school assumed that if you didn’t show up, your parents had let you stay home. Or maybe they didn’t assume anything. Skipping school for a day could be better for the health than having perfect attendance. 😉

  49. Donna September 10, 2015 at 3:07 pm #

    Hancock – There is a HUGE difference between detaining a child or tying him to a chair and forcing him to comply and failing to notice that a student is missing from your class for 2 hours and even then only noticing because the parent of said student called to inform you he was missing. I don’t blame the teacher at all for him escaping. I do question how much attention she is paying to her students if she fails to notice that this has happened within a relatively short period of time.

    “A single teacher can not possibly control and keep track every single inmate of their class every second of the day”

    Keep track of each student for every second of the day? Absolutely not. Expecting them to pay enough attention to each student that one doesn’t disappear without notice for more than 1/3 of the time that they are together for the day doesn’t seem like an onerous requirement.

  50. EricS September 10, 2015 at 3:26 pm #

    My take away from this story: Yes, the teacher should have been more responsible. But crap happens. Especially when you’re watching over a whole class of kids. One can tend to forget about a boy who was excused to go to the washroom. Well, because normally kids would know well enough to go back to their classroom when they are done their business. This kid is 10 years old, hardly too young, and old enough to know better.

    1. How did he get “lost” from the bathroom to outside? Did the boy not realize he was leaving the school? Or was that his intention all a long, and only got lost when he knowingly left the school for whatever his reason was.

    2. Had he been taught how to walk home, call home, or ask for help from “strangers”. He probably wouldn’t have gotten lost or lost for very long.

    This is the point many of us are trying to make to all the helicopter parents, the paranoid officials, and sheeple out there. TEACH your children how to be able to fend for themselves. Teach them LIFE SKILLS. Teach them how to deal with day to day situations, no matter how much you’re afraid of it. In turn, it will build your child’s confidence, self-esteem, resiliency, and street smarts. These are more valuable tools in his future, than learning how to get a well paying job. Not saying academic education isn’t important. But considering all the smart dumb people I know, I very surprised they are all still alive. Guess they are just lucky. lol

    Anyone have a link to the full story, or was this not dramatic enough to be in the local news?

  51. EricS September 10, 2015 at 3:27 pm #

    ^ Ah…nevermind. I totally missed the little “story” link at the beginning. My bad.

  52. EricS September 10, 2015 at 3:41 pm #

    Wow. Ok, I just read the article. I’m flabbergasted too. But not because the kid took off. But the reaction of everyone else. The school goes into panic mode, and as predictable as they are, instead of fixing the route of the problem, they decide to make a whole bunch of new rules and policies. Again, this is more for litigious reasons than anything else. Don’t be fooled by their “concern” for the child. I can bet any money, the first thing that popped into the school officials heads, “Is the mother going to sue us?”.

    And this! “Once everyone told him how scared he should have been, it really hit him,” WTF??? Really? Why would these dumb asses tell a kid “HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN SCARED”? You might as well have told the boy “You’re stupid! You’re useless! You should never rely on yourself! You’re incapable of doing anything without us!”.

    Telling you. Smart dumb people. They exist, a lot of them. lol This boy, if things don’t change in how he’s raised, will be a smart dumb person. Can spout off facts like a human encyclopedia, but got forbid you ask him to make dinner, do laundry, or take care of his finances, or even feel comfortable in social settings. Without feeling the need to reach out to mommy and daddy.

  53. John September 10, 2015 at 4:03 pm #

    Quote: “Aaron 3:16 says, ‘if you beat your kids with a rod, you are an asshole.’”

    @Aaron (& Vicki)……..I don’t believe those versus from Proverbs means BEATING your kids in a literal sense with a rod. The “rod” could very well mean any negative consequence to the child’s actions which makes them think twice before doing it again. At least that’s how I interpret it. Although I don’t believe that slapping your 12-year-old child across the face for telling you f… you or giving your 4-year-old kid a little swat on the behind for running out into the street constitutes abuse.

  54. Stacey September 10, 2015 at 4:19 pm #

    From 1st grade on,(Age 6!) we were allowed to leave school at lunch time and either walk home for lunch, or we went to the local pizza place and got ourselves a slice. Then the candy store for some baseball cards (in the springtime) or candy. Sometimes the drug store for an ice cream soda. We all knew what time we had to be back, and were never late. No cell phones required.

    There was a deli across the street from Roosevelt High School in Yonkers NY. It was called, The Roosevelt Deli, because that’s where a good bunch of the Roosevelt High School kids hung out at lunch time. Before lock down was invented and it was decided that a kid couldn’t think for themselves.

  55. Dean Whinery September 10, 2015 at 5:24 pm #

    I have a lot of anxiety about our schools these days too, and I graduated high school in 1956.

  56. Donald September 10, 2015 at 6:05 pm #

    It’s obvious what the priority is. Cover Your A$$. The school is preparing for a future possible incident and are preparing their court defense. Education is taking a back seat again. It has been for a while. CYA has greatly overtaken teaching and is leaving it way behind.

    The invisible gorilla demonstrates this very clearly. A person gets so many tasks put on them that they clearly miss it when a person in a gorilla suit walks to the center, pauses, thumps his chest, and walks off. The people are so absorbed in their task that 50% of the people tested failed to see the gorilla! This famous test has become a benchmark for selective attention. The teachers are already overloaded with tasks that problems occur. Now the schools wants to pile more tasks on them? People missed the gorilla because their focus was on something else. It’s ludicrous to think that their vision would improve if they had to take role periodically as well!

    This clearly demonstrates that CYA is the utmost priority. This makes no sense. I don’t believe that it even makes sense to the school administrators that are making this decision. They are just parts of the CYA machine and are not allowed to use their judgement.

    Judgement is an endangered species. This page on my blog shows how judgement is dying.

  57. Chuck99 September 10, 2015 at 6:07 pm #

    While I grew up in a rural/suburban area – I honestly did walk a mile to school each day from the time I was 9, often in very cold weather.

    I’m still amazed that I lived through my childhood!

  58. serena September 10, 2015 at 6:13 pm #

    OK so is it bad that both my kids pulled similar stunts? My oldest twice decided not to go to daycare after school (he was in 1st or 2nd grade) so once he got on the bus that went home instead of to daycare and my neighbor who was picking up her daughter walked halfway home with them before she realized my son didn’t take that bus in the afternoon so she called to let me know he would be at her house. The second time he lined up with the walkers (read: car riders) when he knew I want picking him up. So the school called me and said “your son took it upon himself to line up with the walkers…” Yes, his fault I agree but I kind of feel like the teacher should have known he didn’t have a note to be picked up. My younger son, also when he was in second grade decided to run home from the neighbors house after I left for work because I guess he didn’t feel like going to school. The school never called me until after lunch to see why he wasn’t in school and then they thought the teacher just made a mistake taking attendance. In all these cases I fully blamed my kids for making poor choices although the schools could have been a little more vigilant. But I didn’t call the police, CPS, the national guard or anything else.

  59. bob magee September 10, 2015 at 6:20 pm #

    Talk about everyone involved burying the lede – the opening paragraph states this:

    …a 10-year-old boy struggling with anxiety …

    and then not another word about this.

    he is 10 yrs old and has such anxiety that he leaves school and wanders aimlessly?

    And not one word from the mother or the father or the school about what drove this child to take such action.

    Everyone institutes new rules to prevent such a thing ever happening again.

    Except addressing the issues that cause such anxiety in a 10 year old.

  60. hineata September 10, 2015 at 8:49 pm #

    @Donna – 2 hours does seem a little excessive, but I have definitely lost track of kids for a half hour or so before. Easy to do when a kid is quiet and you have other kids mucking around. Even easier when you’re dreamy anyway :-). Suddenly there’s that “Crap, where is so and so?!” Usually, thank goodness, they’re just at extra reading or whatever, but I did once leave a kid in the loo at school while the rest of us were swimming, and lost 6 kids in the bush (they were high schoolers though, so they saved themselves ).

    As for bathroom buddies, geez, my current darlings would probably wreck the toilets if I let them go in pairs. Crazy idea….

  61. Rook September 10, 2015 at 10:14 pm #

    Bah, school. It’s not the only stupid mass punishment they do. When I was in school, if one rowdy kid was acting out then we ALL had to write 100 times on a piece of paper “I will be quiet”. I hated those rowdy kids. It was always the same three getting all of us in trouble and having recess taken away for the whole class. I stayed pretty anxious when I was in school too because I never knew if I was going to be punished for something I didn’t do!

    Tried following the link to the story, but that website severely needs a coding overhaul. I may go look it up on a site who bothers to hire good webmasters.

  62. chornedsnorkack September 11, 2015 at 1:00 am #

    If a child goes to toilet from lesson and then fails to return, one obvious possibility is that he felt sick and got worse in the toilet.
    (Also, the privacy of a toilet stall during a lesson has been repeatedly used for suicide).

  63. sexhysteria September 11, 2015 at 3:35 am #

    I only let one kid at a time out of class because otherwise they conspire to escape in pairs and groups.

  64. RaymondbyEllis September 11, 2015 at 5:54 am #

    When my wife enrolled my son in preschool she warned them he was a runner, and very good at it. They assured her they had never lost track of a student. My son was with an employee of the school, maybe a teacher, while my wife filled out the paperwork.

    After a frantic search, he was found standing next to my wife’s car waiting to be taken home. He was three. He wasn’t lost, he knew exactly where he needed to be.

  65. Emily September 11, 2015 at 7:36 am #

    @Lollipoplover–I’d still give the boy the benefit of the doubt, because not all panic attack are the stereotypical “curled in a ball and shaking” type. It’s possible to be panicking, but still able to get from Point A to Point B, and even answer simple questions. It’s possible to be functioning normally, but still feeling extremely anxious, stressed, scared, et cetera; maybe because of a bullying situation (and, both kids and adults can bully, and be bullied), or social ostracism, maybe because of something going wrong at home, or maybe because life just feels like too much. If the boy was visibly upset by the time he got to the McDonald’s (and, I also have to wonder how his glasses got broken, and his feer swollen), then I think something was really wrong. This looks different to me than your regular “ditching school” situation. If the boy had been cutting school for fun, then he surely wouldn’t have looked so miserable.

  66. Andy September 11, 2015 at 8:02 am #

    @TheOtherAnna “If a 10-year-old walked out of school in 1980’s Russia (time/place when I was that age) the only issue would have been between the student and their teacher for that subject (yes, 10-year-olds were in middle school with subjects and separate teachers in different classrooms)”

    Not true. The teacher would give you skipped class mark. Three (or so) skipped class marks meant special mark on your yearly report card which would limit your options for high school – you might end up in trade even if you wanted to go academic for that reason alone. The consequences for skipping classes could be serious.

  67. Andy September 11, 2015 at 8:06 am #

    1.) The boy was grounded by mom which is perfectly age appropriate punishment. So all who complain about boy not facing consequences blahblahblah, he was punished the way he should be (imo).

    2.) Buddy system – when I was in school, two kids would not be allowed at the bathroom at the same time. Second one had to wait until first one came back. The reason was assumption that two kids would play on way to the bathroom and back. It was supposed to de-incentivise bathroom trips motivated by play being more fun then the class.

  68. James Pollock September 11, 2015 at 8:50 am #

    Buddy system is for field trips.

    That said, when I was in military tech school in Colorado, one of the symptoms of the high altitude (besides being unable to do endurance athletic activities upon arrival) is that some people get nosebleeds. So… what do you do if, in the middle of a busy day learning how to break things and kill people, someone gets a nosebleed? Why, you send them over to the medical clinic, so they can have their nose stuffed with cotton wadding until the bleeding stops. But… you can’t send a bleeding person to walk across the base by themself… what if they pass out, fall into a ditch, and nobody notices? So, in addition to the bleeding person, another student goes. Which other student do you send? Why, you send the student who can best afford to miss an hour or two of class.

    On the plus side, the medical staff are generally nice, as you stand around waiting for your classmates’ nosebleed to stop.

  69. ChicagoDad September 11, 2015 at 9:17 am #

    @ Andy, I’ll admit that I missed the 2 sentences in the article that mention the 10 year old getting in trouble with his mom, since they were buried between “something awful could have happened” and “the school was grossly negligent” so I guess I deserve the “blahblahblahblah”.

    The school should have noticed that a student decided to cut class in the middle of the day. The student shouldn’t have cut class.

    However, the news article really puts the blame on the school, and makes it sound like student was a lost, scared little puppy.

  70. Donna September 11, 2015 at 9:18 am #

    hineata – My issue is not a belief that teachers should not lose track of kids for a period of time and more of a question of how much attention is this child getting in the classroom if the teacher didn’t even notice he was gone for the entire afternoon. I deal with a lot of kids who fall through the cracks in school. Much of that is their home situation, but some is issues like this – teachers who ignore certain kids to the point of not engaging them in learning for hours of the day.

  71. Curious September 11, 2015 at 9:46 am #

    Are we missing something here? Is a child this needy possibly a special needs child who has been main-streamed? Lots of markers for that, aren’t there?

    Or here’s another possibility:
    Does anyone recall the other story we had via a link from a FRKer in Jim Thorpe, PA, back in the spring, as school was winding down and the weather was calling all kids to stay outside, skip school? The 11 year old boy walked away from his yard instead of boarding the bus for school. It was hours before he was missed. But then all heck broke loose The entire town and surrounding woods were ringed by police, neighbors, search dogs; they pulled out all the stops. The boy remained in the woods all day–knowing he was being watched, and at the end of the day walked out and went home. To an equally hysterical mom to the one in the Springfield, Missouri, story.

    There was a video with the PA story, several in fact. It struck me that there were two likely possibilities–more credible than the “playing hooky on a nice spring day” theory that first hit me. The first was: “Pre-teen kiddo has a knock-down drag-out argument with an older brother (there wee two) or with a parent (there were two) and needed some time and space to cool down. Or, maybe, he was a special needs kid, to deserve and get all that attention.

    In the first scenario, the police would be preventing the boy from entering “run-away” status, which is, in all likelihood, the major cause of kids in that age group becoming “missing and endangered”. Along with being taken by non-custodial parents, relatives and friends. Oh, yeah, that would be possibility #3.

    And that is another interesting possibility in the MO case. Was the ten year old boy of interest as part of a “custody situation”?

    See! Things are not always as they appear at first brush. We need to address these FRK issues with a healthy dose of skepticism. People’s lives are at the center of multidimensional matrices, that are spinning as wildly as the universe itself.

  72. Angela September 11, 2015 at 9:59 am #

    I had two ‘skipping school’ experiences that went quite differently. I had always questioned rules that didn’t seem to make sense, and these only encouraged such thinking.

    In 6th grade, I moved to a new school in the middle of the year. My sister was a year younger, so she was still in the elementary school and took a different bus. My dad left for work as soon as my sister and I were awake and we were expected to get ourselves to school.

    I missed my bus. I waited and waited, hoping that it was just late, but it never came. I went back home and realized that I did not have a key to the entry door of our apartment complex. It was cold and snowy. I huddled in a landscaping hollow next to the apartment until after school, when my dad got home. I hadn’t even really skipped school and suffered quite a bit scared (convinced I would be in trouble), alone and cold for hours. It went on my record and I served detention for the breech.

    In high school, at some point during my sophomore year, the authorities decided we weren’t allowed to spend study hall in the library. By this point I hated school. I did well, solid B average and never got into trouble, but I *loved* my time in the library studying whatever I wanted. Cartooning, Greek and Roman mythology, witchcraft; this is when I discovered Anne Mccaffrey; I read her books constantly then and am re-reading (for the 4th time) the Freedom series now.

    Anyway, my study hall was ‘early 4th period.’ The school was large and lunch was broken up into 3 shifts – 2 on either side of 4th period (with 4th period shifted appropriately) and the middle lunch – for the ED/LD kids – split their 4th period in half. I decided to go home for an extended lunch. My next class – English – was taught by the same woman that monitored 4th period study hall.

    “You weren’t in study hall,” the teacher said to me when I came to class.

    “No,” I admitted.

    “Do you have an excuse?”


    “I didn’t think you were the cutting type.”

    I made sure to schedule a 4th period study hall every semester thereafter and never went. I was never punished with more than an automated call home.

    As far as anxiety, I did (and still do, although I’ve come far) suffer. I can remember standing outside a classroom door (in high school again) 30 seconds late. Door already closed, all students in their seats. I knew they would all look at me when I entered, that the teacher would ask me why I was late, and that *gasp* I would have to answer with all the students looking at me. I stood there for 4-5 minutes, practicing what I would say over and over in my head and trying to force myself to open the door, but couldn’t do it. I left and made sure I was back in time for my next class. Again – no punishment.

  73. Neil M September 11, 2015 at 10:25 am #

    This feels like that “Simpsons” episode in which a bear wanders into Springfield, pads around for awhile doing nothing in particular, then is hauled away by animal control. The response from officialdom is to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a “bear patrol” to ensure that this extremely rare incident, which resulted in no harm, never happens again. So perhaps schools should chain all doors, provide teachers with x-ray vision, and tag each student with a sensor that will alert the National Guard should he/she leave campus.

  74. lollipoplover September 11, 2015 at 1:38 pm #


    “This looks different to me than your regular “ditching school” situation. If the boy had been cutting school for fun, then he surely wouldn’t have looked so miserable.’

    If you go back to the article, there is a link you can follow that shows the boy’s route and the stops he made after leaving school. He had the sense to go home first (perhaps to get money?) and then proceed to make stops at Wilson’s Chuckwagon, Casey’s, Hobby Lobby, the library, and then finally McDonalds where he appeared “upset”. Or maybe he just ran out of money and realized his adventure was over and he had to face consequences.

    The map looks like one of Billy’s adventures from Family Circus. I understand anxiety is a very real and physical condition and does not manifest the same in each person who suffers, but he made SIX stops during what you believe is a panic attack. He likely made purchases at these places too.
    Sorry, I’m not giving him the benefit of the doubt. He made his own choice to make 6 stops after leaving school without permission. He is NOT a victim.

  75. hineata September 11, 2015 at 4:39 pm #

    @Donna – that’s rough. Though I do wonder how teachers fail to engage at all with students on their way to the penal system. Mine are only 7 and 8 year olds at the moment, so maybe that’s the issue, but only one or two of them are quiet and even then they happen to be the brightest students so they get noticed anyway. The rest of my rag tag bunch of wee lunatics demand attention pretty much constantly.

    So….how would a teacher ignore that type of student, the type we love but that just seem to be on that slippery slope?

  76. Michelle September 11, 2015 at 6:44 pm #

    You know, I never thought of myself as having skipped school often, but looking back I really did.

    It started in junior high. On Wednesdays, we had a half-day with no classes after lunch. So I would “skip” lunch and wander off. I’d have to come back to catch my bus home, but technically I was breaking the rules.

    In high school I used to skip my 4th period class. Like another commenter above mentioned, we had a schedule where 4th period and lunch coincided. You either had lunch right before, during, or after 4th period. I would just take all three lunches, and hang out in the library.

    A few times I would walk down to my bus stop in the morning, wait for my parents to leave, and then go home. Once I miscalculated and my step-dad was still home when I walked in. He drove me to school. So the next time I wanted to skip, I went to school, then called a friend to come pick me up. I actually went with her to her school, and spent the day attending her classes! She had a fantastic English teacher. I might have done that twice, IIRC.

  77. SOA September 11, 2015 at 8:43 pm #

    My son with autism elopes out of the classroom frequently. He has yet to leave the building. But yes, it concerns me. I would hold the school responsible if anything happened. They need to give him a full time aide.

    I am glad the child was okay. But yes, on this one this is a fairly big deal as the school needs to keep up with the students.

  78. James Pollock September 11, 2015 at 9:46 pm #

    You know, I never thought of myself as having skipped school often, but looking back I really did.

    My high school had a policy… miss 12 or more class sessions in the same semester of any class, and you don’t pass the class, regardless of your performance on the grading scale.

    They also had a system wherein if you accumulated 4 skips, you got sent to Saturday school. Don’t show for that? Why, then youre suspended on Monday. (Yes… don’t come to class, and we’ll punish you by telling you that you can’t come to class.)

    I miscounted my senior year. I already had 11 absences in a class and I got scheduled for the last Saturday school of the year. I couldn’t blow it off.

    Then I went off to college where nobody cares if you show up to class or not. You either get no-show-dropped, or flunked, but nobody calls your home to see if you’re all right (back then, phones were still connected to walls by wires, and most of us didn’t have one.)

  79. JLM September 11, 2015 at 11:08 pm #

    To be fair, every school that I’ve been in (as a primary school teacher) and every primary school my kids have attended have had a “go to the toilet in pairs” policy. I don’t have a problem with this, as most of the kids who ask to go to the loo are likely to get up to mischief if going alone (the sensible kids go at recess and lunch!).

    But scaring the kid? Way to go…

  80. Puzzled September 12, 2015 at 1:30 am #

    I’m completely lost. Calling mommy and crying because you’re at McDonald’s, of all places, doesn’t strike me as normal behavior for a 10 year old. Why are we told he was unharmed by, well, walking a mile and visiting some stores? I see no reason we’d think he was harmed. Why would any editor let this story go out with that odd last line about the broken glasses, but no explanation?

  81. TheOtherAnna September 12, 2015 at 2:38 am #

    Andy: Well, I guess not all schools in 1980’s Russia worked the same way and yours must have been pretty different from mine. In my school there was no such system in place and if you were doing well in a class the teacher would generally not make a fuss if you skipped it. Like in college.

  82. Early Learning Center September 13, 2015 at 4:20 pm #

    That is really a bad. A student does not take 10 leave from the school. That is bad impact on his class and study. Everything is going to be finished. Achild mus be prepared at early learning stage.

  83. Curious September 14, 2015 at 8:05 pm #

    The first week of middle school. Missed the school bus and had to walk. New shoes, hadn’t broken them in. Blisters. Chaos in every class, because the school buses had been twenty minutes early; all the schedules were off. The lock on the locker didn’t work, so he had to carry fifty pounds of books up and down three flights of stairs and to the opposite ends of the building between every class, He tried again to get the locker to work–and the kid with the next locker over slammed the door to his locker and knocked the glasses into the ridge of his nose and bent the ear piece. He needed to make a pit stop and wipe the blood off his nose and feet, and take a leak, but he had less than three minutes to get the half mile to the next class–MUSIC–and he wasn’t sure where that room was…Calm down, take a deep breath, think! He’d get to music, sign in, then get permission to go to the toilet!

    But it didn’t work that way. There wasn’t a sign-up sheet, apparently, not one could see with his glasses askew, and they’d already started, and he figured he better try to fit in and rethink. But he REALLY REALLY needed to go. Bad. So he excused himself, and flew out of there. The only boys’ room he knew for sure how to find was back by the lockers. He washed up, loaded his back pack and found the nearest exit. He planned to go home, fix his glasses as best he could, and go back…after a snack at home, and changing shoes, and underwear.

    So he wasn’t on the attendance sheet. It was as if he hadn’t been to that class at all, and it wasn’t the teacher’s fault, or the school’s fault or his or the bus driver’s or his mother’s or the school board’s or anyone’s. It was middle school. And that is how middle school is when you are ten, and in the fifth grade.

    In my town. It’s been like that for generations. And this is a very good school system. Among the best in the country. And about a thousand miles from Springfield.

    What would be nice would be to cut everyone a little slack the first few days of school. I don’t have littles, mine are grown. But we live on a corner where there are bus drivers criss-crossing, stopping, honking, waiting, waving. And parents waiting, talking, worrying. Thirty five years. The first week of school is the craziest phenomenon imaginable. Every year.

    I think it was Nietzsche, the great existentialist philosopher, who said that anyone who didn’t lose his mind over certain situations has no mind to lose. Sounds to me like this kid quit while he was ahead, but things continued to go down hill. Who hasn’t had that experience of holding it all together throughout a crisis, and then, kinda falling apart when Mom showed up, and we knew we were going to be all right? More power to him. And better luck next time with that school thing. Only eight more years ‘tll HS graduation.

  84. Diana Green September 15, 2015 at 1:38 pm #

    MUIC LESSON: Back to School Blues

    “Some times I feel like a motherless child…a long way from home….”

    “I ain’t got no Buddy…”

    “I love to go a-wandering…”


    “Sometimes…I feel like a motherless child…”

    What if not every school works for every kid? This story reminds me of the eleven year old boy in the Prologue of Dr. Peter Gray’s book, FREE TO LEARN. By changing the environment–not the kid–he and many other children have been freed to have happy, healthy productive educational experiences.

    “Just whistle a happy tune, and no one will suspect you’re afraid!”

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  86. Shawn September 17, 2015 at 6:26 pm #

    Do u know what his name was