My son has been identified as a liar in school. And a thief. And both were true.
They were playing with, or doing a math lesson with, coins one day. The teacher said that he came up to her to show her his money – money that he had washed and made nice and pretty, something that I told him he could do when he found a dirty penny outside one day. The teacher asked him where he’d gotten the money.
That’s when the lies started.
When I came to pick him up, the teacher looked at me as she always does and says, “Big A, right?” as if she doesn’t see me every single morning dropping off my child. When the story got to me, the teacher wanted my son to tell me what had happened. I wasn’t convinced that he really got the significance of what he’d done. He said he told the teacher that he’d “found” the money, which in his head might have been sorta right. He “found” the money that they’d been using for the math lesson. The issue wasn’t that he “found” money, it was the fact that he then put it in his pocket.
I tried to explain to him that there is no such thing as “found” money, unless it’s a penny on the street. All money belongs to someone. Unless somebody gives you money and tells you it’s yours to keep, taking money from anyplace is stealing. I think he heard my words, but I don’t know if it really seeped in. To him, money is just another thing, like a rock on the road or a stick. He knows that money can buy things, but the special significance just hasn’t hit him.
I really wish his not telling the truth had been about something other than money. I remember the teacher saying to him, “I wasn’t mad that you took the money, but that you lied about it.” I feel like she should have understood that he wasn’t necessarily trying to steal the money; in fact, he came and showed her what he had. But I’m sure his felt need to lie stemmed from the fact that he could see she was angry about him having the money.
I hope I don’t sound like one of those parents that make tons of excuses when their kid does something wrong. I, of course, didn’t discuss this like I’m telling to y’all right now. But it bothers me that the little black boy has now been seen as a liar and a thief. Especially to a teacher that can never seem to link me to my child.