Dan Henderson

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Hickie Hiatus

Vampires or Hickies? Those were the only two explanations of mysterious, blueish bruises appearing on the necks of our pupils. Concerned parents began calling teachers. The culprits: the fifth graders and their new raging hormones. 
Not yet fully aware of how to respond to these new emotions and still too young to properly suck face, the girls would hide their hickie trophies behind their long hair. Parents grew wise to turtle necks and discovered their children's’ love marks.
“My daughter is too young to get hickies! What are you teaching these kids in your school?” Ms. Orbison yelled into the phone.
I listened, tapping my toes to save my patience as Ms. Orbison berated the elementary school in which I was employed. I checked email as the rant continues well pass the time I had plan to leave at the end of a long school day.  After I apologize and reassure her that these escapades won’t happen again the yelling stops. What I really wish to say is this,”Yes, hickies are a part of the curriculum. We want our students to have a wide array of career options. If they choose to become part of the living dead of course we want to encourage appropriate neck biting technique at an early age. Vampires 101 is new, but I assure you rewarding. We don’t want your children to look like newbies when they give their souls over to just any vampire lord.” If only I could say that to Ms. Orbison and keep my job, I would.
Instead I wrapped up the conversation by saying, “Of course we do not encourage or teach our students to give each other hickies. I am as outraged as you. This is the last time it will happen in our school.” Why do some parents always want to point blame? Don’t they know teachers and parents are on the same side?! 
The following Monday I planned to create a symbol to get the point across that I am as serious about routing out the vampires at our school as the PTA. I searched for a garland of garlic and crucifix on Amazon. That should prove that I was on the same side as Ms. Orbison. I found an eight foot crucifix on Amazon. Success, two day shipping on Amazon prime, score!
With my crucifix in hand and a black robe, I proceeded to expose these demons to the light and vanquished this disease that ravished our school. Can I get a Hallelujah!? 
It is a sunny Monday morning in the school parking lot, I look towards Ms. Orbison's minivan mafia with matching paper coffee cups. One by one, slowly, the self-sliding doors opened. The doors move as I see moms giving order to the troops in the back seat. The kids enter the school and the minivans park. I see moms gather in a small group. Matching style fleece vests, all with bright contrasting colors indicate the colors of the mom mafia. Who really runs the school?  As teachers scurry worryingly past the circle of brightly marked J. Crew vests, I have my answer. 
I was greeted with sour grins by the fifth grade PTA mom mafia as I walk by their inner sanctum. Moms gave me a concerned look. Did he really pass his background check? Who is that teaching my child?
I give a wide grin back to the moms as I enter the school. “I did not promote, encourage, or help your students to suck face. I was shocked as anyone.” I hoped this incident was over as we began our 8:00am staff meeting for the entire school. What was the last item on the agenda? A PowerPoint bullet that just said, “Hickies.”  
Once the principal was alerted, a task force was organized. I teamed up with my co-worker, Greg and the janitor, Garrison. Other school staff members were made aware of our new hickie-alert status. We were now at DEFCON 1. An immediate nuclear hickie attack was imminent. 
My principal was irate about the faculties’ lack of knowledge. We knew vampires could be the cause, so we had to order extra garlic to prepare for this new emergency. 
“Couldn’t these kids be giving hickies at home?” I offered as a reasonable explanation hoping we could switch topics to actually teaching students. 
Ms. Orbison had apparently rooted out that scenario from her inside sources within the minivan mafia. After 10 minutes of getting barraged by the administrators about our lack of adult supervision, we were given the unholy mother of all assignments. Outdoor recess.
“Squirrel Team red,” I joked to Greg, as the name for our new task force. We would be the outside supervisors of these young vampires.
“Hickie free in 2003. Maybe Ms. Orbison would like us more if we made signs and picketed our own school.” Gregs comments, makes me laugh.
Squirrel team took it’s first assignment seriously and watched the would-be vampires on the playground. For half an hour each day we patrolled the jungle gym looking for the undead. Before entering the building, all fifth graders were asked to pull back their hair for vampire inspection. 
“If found with a foreign agent, you will be quarantined. I repeat you will be quarantined.” No child got my joke, but I made Greg laugh.
Two weeks went by and we did not have any incidents with the mom mafia. With a 1930’s noir voice, I think, “They are laying low you see, they got wise, a gum shoe is hot on the trail. We better ice this before someone gets burned. If we can’t catch them in the act, maybe we should set a trap.” 
Children are smarter than you think. They ones that got away with dirty deeds were the ones that knew when the adults were not watching. 
The week slowly rolled on and Friday was finally upon us. The fifth graders lined up for inspection, but Ms. Orbison's daughter, Tiffany, refused to show us her neck, for the first time in our two week Red Squirrel squad mission.
“Tiffany pull back your hair.” I demanded.
“No, it’s my neck and you can’t tell me what to do.” She argued.
I want to say, “Actually, your a minor and technically….well we will argue semantics later.”
“Do you have something to hide?” I asked.
“No.” She pouts looking away.
“If you have nothing to hide, why don’t you show me your neck?”
“Logic bomb!” Greg yells out and makes it hard for me to keep my teacher-face straight.
Tiffany gave Greg an evil look.
“Show me your neck, Tiffany, or you can wait in the office until your mom arrives.” She realized that that would mean her mom, head of MVM, would discover the love marks first. Without a teacher as a buffer, she could not bear the brunt of the vocal onslaught. If I told her mom, she just might live to see another day.
Tiffany slowly peeled back her hair to reveal a new blueish mark. “Ah ha! So it was happening on the playground, but how and with who?” I exclaim thinking out loud.
Of course, Ms. Orbison blamed us for not catching Tiffany’s young lover in the act. Tiffany refused to give the name of her Romeo, despite a harsh grounding sentence of three weeks. The principal luckily thanks us for finding the source of these events and began to be more sympathetic to our cause. However, the passive aggressive grins I see in the morning parking lot indicate we still need to find our Romeo. It’s not easy pleasing the minivan mafia. 
A few weeks went by, as Squirrel Team, including our janitor Garrison, patrolled the monkey bars with vigilance. We narrowed down the lover to three possible boys. The students had grown wise to our increased supervision and were avoiding our quarantine. 
Greg and I devised a plan, because Tiffany was not the only one who was originally found with bite marks.
Garrison was always in the background, and the students didn’t notice the janitor’s presence the way they noticed teachers. Greg and myself decided to go around the corner of the school, out of the immediate eyes of the playground equipment. We both acted like we are deep in conversation and unleashed our stealth weapon: Garrison. Garrison watched Gwen from a distance and noticed her going into a slide. 
This slide was a tube. The tube was perfect for hiding from the prying eyes of adult supervision. The slide, the highest on the playground, swirled around twice before your journey was over. 
Garrison watched intently. Gwen went down the slide. She did not come out. There were about 100 students on the playground. One boy, Ben made a dash for the slide. Once both were inside, Garrison made his move.
Garrison scurried up the slide, making all the members of the Squirrel Team proud. 
“Gotcha!” he yelled. Garrison grabbed Ben and pulled his fangs off his lover’s neck. We heard Gwen scream from across the playground, making the whole playground aware of the commotion. I did not think our lovers expected a six-foot tall, 200 pound janitor to crawl up the slide and ruin their romantic randevu. Why is love never like the movies?
The principal talked to Gwen and Ben about taking a break from this hickie exploration until they are bit older. Greg couldn’t resist his jests.
“Yes, a Hickie Hiatus is in order.” Greg excitedly proclaimed, hoping to get a laugh from our principal. 
Instead, Ben turns around with a inquisitive look,“What’s a Hiatus?” 
“And then I remembered that my job was not vampire hunter, but teacher. I should probably get back to that.”

Response from Readers
Every month I ask a question to the readers of this blog. My question last week was:

How do you handle vandalism at your school?

Brian Groberg writes:

 Graffiti used to be a big problem in our schools until our art teacher came up with a creative solution. Prior offenders were gathered up and ask to do a mural for the schools auditorium  However, the catch was if there was any new 
graffiti around the school, all work on the mural would be halted. There was no new graffiti on the bathroom walls for three weeks.  When the mural was finished we began to see graffiti again. The principal decided to let students have art supplies in the cafeteria and that students could enter in a cafeteria art competition. I can't say that vandalism and graffiti was eradicated, but it was seriously reduced. 

I want to hear your thoughts, please share your ideas. The questions this month are:

Do you think our students are blooming sexually too early these days?
When do you think an appropriate age for sexual education to be taught in our classrooms?

Email me at [ Dan ] [Henderson ] danhendersonthatsspecial@gmail.com

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*Disclaimer: All names have been changed to protect their identity.  All specific geographic indicators have been removed from these stories. Additionally, these stories are written about incidents that happened one year or longer from this date. @ That’s Special 2015