Monthly Archives: March 2014

Gangster’s Wife

Some months ago a mother arrived at our school to pick her up child. Her husband, apparently, is a gang member in the area. This is no surprise considering the school community is a high needs area. Gangs aren’t common but they aren’t rare. Drugs are rampant. “Parties“, that is to say people packing into a small house and dealing and buying drugs all night, are fairly common. Two years ago, a gorgeous mother of two nice little girls in our school was shot execution style in the back of her head the Sunday before the school returned to school after the Christmas break. It was a drug deal gone wrong. Her children and their story were in all the local newspapers. This was a horror even for our community. But it happens.

So when this mother showed up to pick up her son in a lovely t-shirt saying “gangster’s wife”, it wa600full-my-wife-is-a-gangster-2-screenshotsn’t a surprise. But it was vulgar.  Let me be a little clearer. It didn’t state “gangster” exactly. It actually said the name of the gang although I can’t remember what it said. I shall offer the Cripps as an example because they are so well-known. In that case her t-shirt would have said “Cripp’s Wife“. Lovely. It made me look twice. I mean, it’s one thing to have a spouse who is in a gang and another entirely to advertise it. Why would anyone do that?

The shirt told me a lot of things about this family. Two words and I could read everything I needed to know about her son, her, and her husband:

  1. School will never be a priority
  2. Her son is a handful in the school and constantly in trouble
  3. Every family member exhibits several morally and ethically inappropriate behaviours

The thing about gangsters is they make their own rules. School rules? Ha. Everyone else is expected to acquiesce to these families or they will make a lot of noise and even contact the superintendent of schools to make ridiculous complaints. Gangster and criminal families threaten teachers with making complaints to the Ontario College of Teachers rather frequently. Of course, the issues are so ridiculous that it is highly unlikely the College would even seriously consider the complaint, never mind find in the family’s favour.

You know what kills me about this? They don’t get it. They truly don’t understand that exaggerating a school sigangster-smokingtuation (or outright lying which is done fairly often) is not going to grant them the “closure” they are seeking. They won’t get what they want. Sanity will prevail (so far as I have heard thank God) and eventually the complaint will be quashed and school life returns to normal. I’m not talking about families who make frightening, false accusations against teachers and their support staff. That stuff is murderous to a reputation and about 82% of the time, completely false.

I’m referring to parents who are annoyed that their child isn’t allowed to bring a switch blade to school “just for fun.” Naturally she won’t use it. It’s just to show off (in other words, intimidate other kids). Parents are annoyed when their kids can’t wear do-rags or gang colours or nasty slogans on their t-shirts. I’m not kidding. They send their sons to school in what I crudely call “wife-beaters”, those undershirts that gap away from the child’s shoulders and underarms. Gross. I make the kids put on a sweater or jacket. I don’t know what anyone else does but I won’t allow that kind of clothing in my classroom.

When I see a “gangster’s wife” emblazoned proudly across a woman’s chest, I know we’re in for a tough go with the child in this particular class. And maybe the child’s behaviour will affect the rest of the school. Personally I don’t believe troubled children who hail from such dysgangster kidfunctional backgroundsshould be permitted into the mainstream school system. They are intimidating. They bully other kids. They disrespect education and teachers. Why be here then? Send them to a behavioural school with specialists who are trained in dealing with severe emotional and behavioural needs. Mainstream, regular schools cannot deal with that type of behaviour. Most classroom teachers who have never taught in a behaviour specialist role do not know how to discipline and set boundaries successfully for these students. When this type of family allows their daughter or son to attend a special school, the kid wins (she or he can finally begin to learn and to make friends), the staff wins (specialists are very skilled at setting up formal behaviour programs and involving the family), the parents win (very few complaints anymore since the negative behaviour is usually dealt with internally in behavioural schools).

But I don’t expect “gangster’s wife” to understand that. Instead, she wants us to bend the rules for her daughter and ignore everyone else’s needs and concerns. And if that terrible day happens in our schools, it’s time to get out of teaching and look for work where I can feel safe in my work environment and respected by the people around me.