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  1. The Globe and Mail
  2. ‎Tales of Teaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts
  3. Teachers' Tales
  4. By Haylee Harwick

The kids in the class were laughing hysterically because they all knew, of course.

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They were co-conspirators in the baby squirrel shenanigans. So we got a little box and fluffed it up with tissue and stuff. I took the box and put it on the counter.

The Globe and Mail

The student texted his dad, so his father came and picked up the box with the baby squirrel in it and took it home. Because it was near the end of the school year, I don't know what happened to it afterward. I don't know if it survived or if it lived to see another season in their backyard. I know it seems strange to the average person, but it's actually not that uncommon for kids to carry animals with them at school. They're not actually allowed to, and we don't condone it, but we've had many instances where a kid, especially girls, would carry around their pet mice or rats because they're fairly common pets.

And they hide them either in their hoodies or they hide them in their cleavage.

‎Tales of Teaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts

We had a case where one girl came into the office at lunchtime and said, "I've been holding my friend's pet rat all day and now she's left school, but I have phys ed and I don't know what to do with it. An elementary school principal in St. Catharines, Ont. After more than 30 years of teaching I still remember an incident from one of my earliest years. The first bell had rung and my Grade 2 students were busy putting their things away in their lockers. That morning there was so much more noise and chatter than usual, so I went to investigate.

As soon as I appeared, all of the boys quickly left to take their seats.

Teachers' Tales

I knew something was up because they all ran away. There was just one boy left standing there in the hallway with a deck of cards. It was just a deck of cards, I thought. So I took them away and a few minutes later I looked at them, and I realized, "Oh, that's why they were so interested.

There were pictures of a naked woman on each card — the same woman, posing in different positions. Hours later, I took another look because I couldn't help myself, and I realized: "Oh, my God, it's his mother. With this boy, whenever you want things signed and whatever, he'd always say, "No, my mother is in Toronto, my mother is in Toronto. She's a model in Toronto. I finally realized what kind of model she was.

By Haylee Harwick

To be honest, I'm ashamed that at the time, I was very judgmental and thought, "Isn't this awful? I sent the cards home at the end of the day in a brown envelope, explaining to the boy this was an item to stay at home. He was kind of sheepish. He didn't say much. I think he was kind of relieved to get them back. I never saw the mother again, until one day flipping through channels I saw her on Speaker's Corner , explaining the virtues of lap dancing.

While I found the situation humorous, this is what I've learned over the years: Every mother loves their kid, and every mother will do whatever it takes to raise their kid the best they can. A couple years ago, a student in my Grade 7 class asked to go to the washroom about nine minutes before the end of the day. This was a student who didn't want to be in class at times.

here To boot, my thinking was that by Grade 7, a student should be able to hold it, so I asked him to hold on for the nine minutes until the end of the day. As we were tidying the class a few minutes later, he was just sitting there with a bottle of what I initially thought was apple juice on the corner of the table.

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  • I picked it up without saying anything and as I was taking it to the back of the class, I thought, "Oh, my God, this is so warm. Please let this not be what I think it is. I called him over because I didn't want to call him out in front of anybody and I didn't want to freak out the rest of the class either.

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    He just sort of looked at me, and I said, "Is this what I think it is? Then, it hit me that this happened right in the middle of our class, at a table of mostly girls, under my nose. I said, "I think I'd like to keep it and I want to check in with your mom. I explained the circumstances and I asked her if we could meet at some point with the student.

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    This was truly the most absurd thing I had ever experienced. But on a serious note, I said to him, "This could have been really, really problematic. You're sitting in a classroom full of people. You're sitting near girls. If anybody had seen this, it would have been a real problem. I ended up dumping out the bottle. Threw some bleach down the sink, cleaned out the bottle and recycled it.

    But I did take a picture of it for my teacher memory book. I can't look at the school lunch-sized apple juices any more without giggling. Retired elementary teacher and principal who taught in Calgary and now lives in Nanton, Alta. This kid in my Grade 4 class was always one of these little boys. He was a little monkey.