you really should have expected that

I got a voice mail from the school. No, they didn’t need to talk to me, but they needed to let me know Kiddo#3 had been “picking up rocks” during recess. The message went on and on while I sat, open-mouthed.

“Kiddo#3,” I called later, when my Patient Husband was home, “I need you over here.”

“AWWW!” He stomped over. “What now?”

I said, “I got a call from the school. What happened at recess?”

He said, “I don’t know.”

I said, “You were picking up rocks?”

He nodded. I said, “And were you throwing them?”

He said, “No, we were dropping them down the storm drain.”

Since the phone call hadn’t mentioned other kids, I asked. One friend’s name I recognized; another had run for the hills and hadn’t been captured. Fair enough. “How big were the rocks?” He said about golf-ball sized. (Which probably means they were hamburger-bun sized.)

I said, “Wow. After that call, I figured they were as big as a loaf of bread and you were building a catapult. Was anyone getting hurt?”


I said, “And what did you do?”

He doesn’t remember.

I said, “Did you talk to Mr. Principal?”

No, the principal was out; he talked to someone else. He doesn’t remember whom.

So far the accounts matched. I said, “They made you write a note?” Yes, they did. “What did the note say?” He doesn’t remember.  I said, “So the note says, Dear Mr. Principal, Sincerely Kiddo#3?” He shrugged.

Clearly an effective learning experience for Kiddo#3.

I said, “And they called it an ‘unexpected behavior’?”

Beside me, my Patient Husband choked.

Yes, when they misbehave at school now, it’s not misbehavior, or even “an unsafe situation.” Thanks to a Self-Esteem Initiative that just doesn’t know when to die, it’s just “an unexpected behavior.”

And the thing is, if you’ve read this blog for even a week, you know by now that no behavior is unexpected from Kiddo#3.

I couldn’t see that he’d really done anything wrong, so I gave up. “Well, now that you’ve done it, I guess it’s no longer unexpected.”

My ever-loyal Patient Husband groaned. Kiddo#3 ran laughing down the hall. “Now they expect it! Now they expect me to pick up rocks at recess!”

Dear Mr. Principal,

I am sorry for my unexpected snark. I wish I could say it won’t happen again, but you guys make it too easy.



  1. Cricket

    I don’t let my kids put large rocks down storm drains, as a matter of respecting property and such, but, really, it’s not hurting anyone and storms wash rocks down all the time. Sure, if everyone did it there would be no rocks on the playground and too many in the sewer, but it’s not a big deal. Besides, if the rock is large enough to cause a problem with the drain, it won’t go down the grate. It’s probably one of those things where the system supports the teacher on duty, even if it was something silly.

    As for “unexpected behaviour”? Phtthppt. At that age, it’s absolutely expected, and a very effective way of keeping them occupied, something teachers should appreciate. Ask them not to do it, for the above reasons, then concentrate on other things.

    1. philangelus

      I don’t really see it as a damaging thing. Like you said, rocks probably drop down there all the time. Trash would be a different story. He likes to put sticks down the storm drain at the bus stop, and I stop him when I see that going on, but again I figure it’s not harmful.

      The call was so weird, though. “He’s accepted full responsibility.” Responsibility for WHAT? For moving rocks around? Like they think that’s the worst thing my son could do?

  2. Mary

    Dropping rocks down a sewer drain?! Good grief, Jane, you have a mad man on your hands! He may be lethal to any rats running around down there 😉 My daughter and I used to love tossing different sized rocks down the storm drains and listen to the plinks, plunks, and plops they made.

    Once she got her clip moved at school for “kicking bark mulch”. Sigh. I think I taught her that too.

    1. philangelus

      I fully expected that “picking up rocks” was the school’s euphemism for “throwing rocks at other kids.” But no, apparently this was the worst thing they could think my son might do. 😉

      I agree it’s not a HUGE problem. I tell them not to put things down the storm drains if I see them doing it, but I also don’t think it’s exactly a crime.

  3. Mary

    Errrr…I just read Cricket’s comment and my head is hanging.

  4. Megan

    If I had kids and they went to school and I got a call saying “Kiddo Pi was picking up rocks” I think my response would be “So?”

    Oh noes, he was playing with unapproved toys! Rocks and sticks haven’t been evaluated by the American Academy of Pediatrics!!

    Mary, I loved your comment.

    1. philangelus

      The rocks are okay as long as they’ve got rounded edges and they’re made of polystyrene. Sticks are wooden toys, so they needed to be approved by the Wooden Toy Regulation Act of 2011 which requires all wood to be sanded with regulation sand paper before anyone under the age of 18 touches it.

  5. loriendil


  6. capt_cardor

    No one expects the Spanish Inquisition…

    1. philangelus

      Our chief weapon is rocks.

      Rocks and storm drains. TWO! Our two chief weapons are rocks and storm drains!

      1. Megan

        This blog just became exponentially more awesome.

  7. MyBrokenFiat

    I can only hope that “Dear Mr. Principal” note actually made it, in some form, to the Principal. Ha ha ha.