Mrs. Sweet had been teaching kindergarten for thirty years, and in all of those thirty years, she had never come across a more disruptive and dedicated-to-violence child as Amos Moses. Mrs. Sweet would watch Amos out of her room’s window in the morning before school opened. Amos would throw pea-sized pebbles that the playground was full of at other kids, age or size irrelevant, run up behind girls and give their braids a yank, and pull flowers up from the landscaped areas. Once the doors to the school opened and the children were in Mrs. Sweet’s classroom, simply keeping Amos contained within it became a major effort.
Amos was a small child, much smaller than the average five year-old, but he had wiry strength and was as fast as a wind zephyr. The times Mrs. Sweet was able to catch Amos, he let loose with a stream of vulgar words that would make a sailor blush. The only thing that Mrs. Sweet found that would calm Amos down was letting him play at the small oak table in the corner with the sand tray. Amos would play quietly there for as long as Mrs. Sweet would let him.
On the one hand, Mrs. Sweet was happy she found something to keep Amos quiet, but on the other hand, Amos was not learning what he needed to learn to pass on to first grade. Not only that, Amos continued to be violent and destructive on the playground before school and at recess and gym. Other children were getting injured. She knew that Amos needed testing for special education intervention supports, but she also knew the reputation of the Moses family. Amos was the youngest of eight children, and Mrs. Sweet had had every one of Amos’ siblings in kindergarten with her over the years. There had been various behavioral issues with them and many meetings with Mrs. Moses, who was, at her best, agreeable, but at her worst, weak and inconsistent. Somehow each child had passed on to first grade – and became the first grade teacher’s problem – but with Amos, there was no way he was going to make it.
Mrs. Sweet sent a letter to the Moses home, with a date and time for a meeting. Many times parents would call or come in to find out what the meeting was about, but not this time. On Tuesday, the fifth, at four p.m., Mr. Moses walked into the school and went to the office. Mrs. Muller, the office secretary, looked up from her work to see a tall man wearing a flannel shirt, overalls, and a beat-up Stetson hat. Beside him, visible just a bit over the surface of the counter, with the top of his head and his two bright blue eyes wide and staring, stood Amos. In a voice deeper than a bass drum Mr. Jones irreverently said, “Where’s that old b*tch that still doesn’t know how to teach kids at?”
Mr. Carson, the gym teacher, and Mr. Ellis, the Dean of Students, had been asked to stay for the meeting, as they had first-hand knowledge of Amos’ behavior, not to mention the fact they were both big and strong and could act as a physical barrier between Mrs. Sweet and Mr. Moses. Everyone was seated strategically, where the only chair left for Mr. Moses was well away from the door. Amos, strangely silent and obedient, was asked to sit out in the office with Mrs. Muller.
Without going into excruciating detail, the meeting was held, things got loud, and in the end Mr. Moses stormed out, cursing and slamming doors all of the way. Amos followed his father like a shadow. Mrs. Muller followed soon after as the Moses meeting was the last of the day. It was worth the unpleasantness of the meeting, as Mrs. Sweet held in her hands the signed releases and permissions that were required to get Amos the assessments he needed. Mrs. Sweet retrieved a bottle of champagne from the teacher’s lounge and they all had a toast.