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February 05, 2013


These people are completely insane:

“I was trying to save people and I just can’t believe I got dispended,” says Alex Evans, who doesn’t understand his suspension any better than he can pronounce it.

“It’s called ‘rescue the world,’” he says.

He was playing a game during recess at Loveland’s Mary Blair Elementary School and threw an imaginary grenade into a box with pretend evil forces inside.

“I pretended the box, there’s something shaking in it, and I go ‘pshhh.’”

The boy didn’t throw anything real or make any threats against anyone. He explains he was pretending to be the hero. “So nothing can get out and destroy the world.”

But his imaginary play broke the school’s real rules. The school lists “absolutes” designed to keep a safe environment. The list includes absolutely no fighting, real or imaginary; no weapons, real or imaginary.

“Honestly I don’t think the rule is very realistic for kids this age,” says Alex’s mom Mandie Watkins.

The Editorial Staff kept stories, drawings, and other schoolwork for both her sons. She has file folders full of drawings of machine guns and battles and monsters and other scary things. In their minds, my sons turned pet gerbils and our long suffering beagle into space warriors. A family trip to Disney World was rudely interrupted by Commando, who proceeded to attack their Dad for no apparent reason as we slept in a nearby graveyard (!). Don't worry - we all survived.

A cow inexplicably crawled into the mouth of a sleeping woman, who got a stomach ache, then took Advil and died.

My sons weren't allowed to watch much TV (and no cable). They didn't even have toy guns, but that didn't prevent them from turning any long, vaguely cylindrical object into a pretend firearm. That was fine with me.

There are scores of short stories my boys wrote over the years in their files. One of the more memorable is a story my eldest wrote in the first grade. Given the assignment to write about Sleeping Beauty, my small son killed her boring-arse self off in the first paragraph before going on to write about how The Space Condor used his tornado remote control to conquer the universe.

We wonder whether Child Protective Services can take adult children away from their parents based on the thought crimes of small boys? Gosh, we hope not.

Posted by Cassandra at February 5, 2013 02:50 PM

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This kind of thing is pat of why I tell the fiance I want to homeschool anychildren we may be blessed with...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at February 5, 2013 04:45 PM

It seems the zeitgeist finds itself in a Mexican standoff. On the one hand "If It Saves JUST ONE PRETEND LIFE...." it's worth stifling one heroic imagination. On the other hand, the real hand, i.e., in reality, there is Hobsbawm's Law* – "If it saves but one life it's worth the death of millions". I wonder whether they all are pretending or are all genuinely clinically addled?

*After Eric Hobsbawm, dedicated British Socialist and Marxist historian who passed from the mortal coil just this past October. When asked by Michael Ignatieff whether he would have a socialist society just as would have it if the cost of having it was 20 million dead, Hobsbawm answered simply "yes".

Posted by: George Pal at February 5, 2013 05:22 PM

Thought Crimes are a real and present danger to the State, comrades. Mental hygiene is priority number one when The Revolution comes to "fundamentally transform" America.

Posted by: a former european at February 6, 2013 06:18 AM

This kind of story makes an interesting pairing with Grim writing about the increasing lack of a mens rea requirement in legislation. Don't do it, regardless of what you're thinking; don't think it, regardless of what you're doing.

And what I'm now thinking is, "This reminds me of the Stay Puft marshmallow man from Ghostbusters."

Posted by: Elise at February 6, 2013 10:00 AM

It could have been so much worse, though. What if he'd *thought* about using a bubble gun?

I for one feel much safer knowing intrepid school officials are protecting our kids from the threat of imaginary bubble blowers.

Posted by: Cass at February 6, 2013 12:12 PM

This reminds me of a story, so you can go to sleep now.

Once, when I was in fourth or fifth grade at Holy Mother of Bedlam Catholic School, my friend Tommy and I were caught in class drawing very explicit dioramas from our then-favorite movie: "The Alamo". My drawing was what you might expect from an over-imaginative over-energized 10 year-old: Stick figures running around shooting and stabbing and spouting great fountains of Bic Pen colored blood. Tommy's however, was... a masterpiece! Tommy had unbelievable talent with a pencil (his younger brother was even more talented), and his drawing was detailed with dozens of figures lining the crumbling walls of the old mission, smoke and flames licking the sky behind them as they fired their flintlocks and repeaters down into the panicked masses of Santa Anna's barging against the fort's stout wooden gates while Col. Travis stood atop the ramparts waving his saber and the proud flag of the infant Republic of Texas. I mean, it was the single most awesome thing I'd ever seen come out of a kid - it might still be - and he did it in 10 minutes, on loose leaf paper.

Well, anyway, Tommy and I (and our handiwork) were sent packing down to see The Principal. Sister Mary Bartola (may she rest in everlasting peace) was commonly referred to by the inmates of the juvenile-asylum as "Black Bart" - as much for her scowling demeanor as for the color of her nun's habit, and persistent 5 o'clock shadow. Naturally, Tommy and I were both petrified, expecting that we would soon be introduced to the dreaded "Board of Education" that rested in a secret, velvet-lined, compartment in the pedestal of the Blessed Virgin Mary that tenderly gazed down upon the Baptismal Font. Black Bart's Board was a paddle, and rumored to be at least ten inches wide and one inch thick, with grooves cut into its surface (to raise welts) and a notch in the handle for each unlucky recipient of its hellish caress. According to legend, The Board was hand carved from an ancient oak - and not just any old ancient oak, but the ancient oak beneath which ancient heathens practiced their ancient idolatry until (as Ezikiel 6:13 tells us) them ancient idolaters discovered the hard way who really was the LORD in them ancient parts. Of course, nobody living had ever actually seen The Board, but that didn't mean it didn't exist. Dead men tell no tales, you know.

Anyway, as Tommy and I stood shivering before The Principal's massive wooden desk stained the color of dried blood (and rumored to have been fashioned from a table rack used in the Spanish Inquisition) Black Bart slowly, silently, examined our handiwork, her thick unibrow shielding us from what surely must have been hellfire itself pouring from her eyes. Eons passed. And then, she looked straight at us. The sight of two ten year-old boys quaking in dreaded anticipation on a life-ending lesson in proper classroom behavior must have given Black Bart immense, dark, pleasure, because she did something so unexpected, so utterly bizarre, that the story of our punishment at her hands went down in the annals of St. Bedlam's, and is still retold today as "The Miracle of The Alamo."

Sister Bartola smiled. She smiled! At first, we didn't what to make of this expression. Maybe she was thinking about how much fun she was going to have swinging The Board at our bony little butts. But then she said that Tommy's drawing was the best that she'd ever seen from one of her students, and that God have certainly given young Tommy a wonderful talent, and that when God gives a person such talent the He wants them to use it to please Him and his children - just not in class. We were dumbfounded. Slowly, it sunk in that not only were we not going to die, we were blessed! Protected by God Himself! God be praised!

Of course, my drawing didn't draw any great praise from Sister Bartola, but the magical, heavenly glow that had suddenly appeared around Tommy shined bright enough to mask the sinfulness of the graphic horrors recorded in my untalented hand. Sure, I was blessed only by association, but I was saved nonetheless.

To be sure, we didn't escape punishment entirely. Tommy was enlisted to draw pictures for the Greater Glory of His Name - you know, Saints & Such - that Sister Bartola hung around the halls for grown-ups to gawk at on parent's night, and I think I wound up serving the 6 a.m. Mass at the convent for about a month, straight. But all things being equal, we made out like bandits. Almost like heroes, really. Except, unlike our real heroes, Tommy and I actually survived the Alamo.

And became lawyers.


Posted by: spd rdr at February 6, 2013 04:11 PM

mr rdr, some day you really do need to write a book.

I miss reading your writing. Thanks for putting a big smile on my face at the end of a very long day.

Posted by: Cass at February 6, 2013 04:39 PM

You know, considering the history involved, some of those drawings of the saints could probably get just as gory as the Alamo sketches...

Posted by: Matt at February 6, 2013 10:25 PM

considering the history involved, some of those drawings of the saints could probably get just as gory as the Alamo sketches...

Especially if they let spd do the drawing :p

Posted by: And I'm Outta Here!!! at February 6, 2013 11:12 PM

More! More! I love tales of misspent youth, especially in school.

My best friend attended Catholic parochial schools up through high school. One of our favorite movies was 'The Trouble With Angels.'

Posted by: Ha! at February 14, 2013 06:49 AM

I read your short bio to the Children as they ate their breakfast.

For once, utter silence, rapt attention and appropriate laughter was the reward.

"More, please, sir." (Oliver Twist)

Posted by: Puff'sMom at February 14, 2013 06:56 AM

I've been telling mr rdr that he's a born storyteller since at least 2004 :)

Somewhere in the archives there's a Christmas piece he wrote. I loved that one. If I get time later, I'll try to find it.

Posted by: Cass at February 14, 2013 09:44 AM