As I cut through the upstairs library at the elementary school I was working at, one of my kindergarten teachers flagged me down. The class was just getting ready to head back down to their class after checking out some books. The students were line up quietly.
The teacher asked if I would mind pulling Mauricio and talking to him. He'd used a swear word toward a classmate. I told her it wouldn't be a problem and that I'd bring him back down when we were done.
Typically with a minor situation like this I'll bark the kid a little, he'll start crying, and I'll make him promise not to do it ever again. Then on with the day. I took Mauricio to a small unused office off the main library floor (I've worked in several schools and they all seem to be built with not enough offices in the main office area, and more than needed in the library... odd).
I sat Mauricio down and took a seat across the table from him. Like a criminal interrogator I went to work on Mauricio. I battered him with a series of stern questions about knowing the rules, and 'how would he like it' like statements. No reaction. I spoke louder. Even more sternly. A fist pound may have been thrown in for CSI like effect. I increased the level of my empty threats if he were to do it again ("I'll call mom!" "I'll suspended you!" "Have you heard of waterboarding?!). Nothing. At one point, I thought I may have seen a slight dab of moisture in his eyes, but I reasoned it might just be my breath or perhaps even tears of boredom. I questioned if Mauricio even understood English.
I gave up. I was defeated. I hit him with everything I had, and he took the blows. I had stuff to do, so I told Mauricio it was time to go back to class. He obediently followed.
The kindergarten rooms were downstairs from where we were. There was a back staircase that students didn't really use that was sort of a short cut to where we needed to go. As I ushered Mauricio into the stairway, he totally freaked out.
"Where are you taking me!!!!?"
It occurred to me that this five year old boy had never been down the back stairs and likely had no concept of where he was in the building. I'm not sure he even knew who exactly I was.
I wheeled and barked back in my best Harrison Ford, guy-yelling-in-a-suit-voice , "If you want to know all the answers, you need to learn to talk like a nice little boy!"
His eyes poured like a faucet and pleaded for nothing in-particular ("please, please!") as we descended the stairs. When we go to the bottom and open the door way that led back into the main school, we were back in the kindergarten hallway. Mauricio looked around, got his bearings, and stopped crying and yelling as quickly as he started. I'd never seen moisture evaporate so quickly.
Mauricio walked into his classroom like nothing ever happened. Don't mess with the bull young man!