Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mystery No. 2

There's few things worse about being an administrator then having to ask another person to clean up human shit.  I've worked with enough custodians and they can see it in your eyes when you approach to break the news.  "It's shit isn't it?"

The bathroom can be a nightmare for schools as it's the only location on campus that generally isn't under direct adult supervision at all times.  Cameras can't be used like on a bus. The boys bathroom at an elementary school is often even tougher sledding because of the usual lack of male teachers.  Of course, the kids know this.  For this reason, the bathrooms make logical points for fighting, dealing drugs, sharing answers, and of course, creating misadventures in with number twos.

A few years back in one of our bathrooms in the primary wing of the elementary school we started finding a healthy size log in the urinal every day.  Nothing is worse than when it's smeared and played with (which also usually signals serious psychological issues), but again, I'm not the one cleaning it up.  When you start having daily 'hey can you clean up the crap' chats with your day custodian you better keep their service in mind when Christmas comes around.

Day after day, log after log, the ordeal carried on.  We watched for it, had full staff meetings about the mad shitter, developed plans to strategically monitor the bathroom, charted times of day we discovered the poos, and reminded students of expected behavior.  So much for academic focus.  

It had become my habit to walk into the particular bathroom that was getting hit anytime I passed it throughout the day at this point.  Finally after nearly two weeks of daily 'surprises', I walked into the bathroom to see one of the cuter kids in the school, a little first grader, propped up on the urinal passing his cafeteria roast beef.  "Hi Principal!" he excitedly said as he continued his business.  He had no idea he was even doing anything wrong.

Asking your custodian to clean up this kind of mess sucks, but having to call a boy's father and alert him that his six year old son doesn't know how to take a dump in public is no picnic either.  The father was a fairly even mixture of embarrassed and pissed.  He wanted his son to clean toilets as punishment (no no no...), but also produced a number of laughable excuses like the stalls are too high (the urinals are higher...), too loud when they flush, etc.  Truth was, no one had ever explained to this poor kid what the different plumbing options were for.  He didn't have a urinal at home so this was novel.

Sadly, after we thought we had this mystery solved, the kid kept doing it for a couple more days (more tough custodial chats, more embarrassing phone calls to Dad...).  Eventually we developed a plan where a staff member had to enter the bathroom, watch the kid go into the stall, then exit and stand outside till he was done, and then re-enter the bathroom and check the scene.  I'm happy to report though that several years from the event that the student is doing well and using the shitter properly.  It's the little victories that sometimes matter the most....

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