Mama Bear Rears Her Head

Well, it’s Day Two of kindergarten and I’ve already sent an email to the principal of Bean’s school. I don’t know whether to be proud or embarrassed. Good Lord, sometimes I drive myself insane.

Bean school is brand new this year, which means the school is having a few growing pains. One of which is the traffic pattern for drop-off and pick-up of children. It is INSANE the lines that we have been waiting in. One of my neighbors got in line at 2:45 to pick up his children at 3:00, and he didn’t get his children into his car until 4:00!!!! Seriously, it’s been a nightmare.

But that wasn’t actually my issue. This morning, Chris took Bean to school and he waited in the incredibly long carpool lane. When he pulled up to the front of the school, there was a staff member standing at the curb YELLING at parents and children. She was yelling so much that Bean started to cry and was scared to go inside. So Chris, being the wonderful and amazing parent that he is, went to park his car and he walked Bean up to the school instead.

The rules of drop-off clearly state that parents are not allowed inside the building after the first day. And I completely understand that. It would be chaos, and not to mention a security issue, if people could just stroll into the building every morning. But Chris wasn’t trying to go inside the building. He was simply walking Bean up to the front door and then Bean would go inside to find his classroom by himself (which is actually another issue I have, but I haven’t gone all “Mama Bear” on that one yet… Where the heck are the people to help five year old kids get to class on their SECOND day of school????).

Anyway, Chris is standing there trying to pump Bean up and get him confident enough to walk inside the building when all of a sudden, that crazy staff lady starts yelling at Chris and Bean! She yells at Bean, “HE CAN’T COME IN WITH YOU, SO GET INSIDE TO YOUR CLASSROOM! YOU ARE GOING TO BE LATE!”

Well, as you can imagine, Bean got scared and started crying and then Chris had to gently push him into a scary new place and leave.  He texted me at work right away and was so upset. We both were. What a scary thing for a kindergartener to face on their second day of school!

I weighed my options during first and second period. Should I call? Should I email? Should I let it go? At lunch time, I ran it by some teacher friends who are also fierce mama bears and they all agreed that I would not be out of line to send an email.

So I did.

To the Principal.

Here’s what I said:

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Good morning, Mr. *****,

I am the parent of Michael Brown, who is a kindergartener in Mrs. ****’s class. We are so happy to have Michael attend ****. In fact, your school was the leading factor in our purchasing a home in *****. Michael had a great first day, and we are excited to see how his year unfolds.

This morning, my husband dropped Michael off in the car pool line, as instructed in your voicemail and the various emails we have received. We followed all the directions and waited patiently with the understandably long lines. However, when our car pulled up to the front, there were several staff members yelling at children and parents. Most notably, a staff member yelling at young children. In fact, she had a child standing next to her, bawling, who was no more than five or six years old. This upset Michael considerably, and he is not a child that flusters easily. We are not concerned about not being able to come in with him. We had prepared him for walking in this morning by himself, and as a parent, I certainly appreciate the security measures **** has set in place. But it was the sharp, unkind delivery of the message that made my husband and I concerned, as Michael went into school crying today after that outburst.

My husband and I are very supportive of all that your staff is going through with the new changes and I can image the frustrations of the parking situation. However, a kinder approach to the situation would make a big difference – especially to kindergarten students who are still trying to feel comfortable walking into their school.

Thanks so much for you attention, and good luck with the rest of your first week.

Sincerely,
Mama Bear

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(Just kidding on the “Mama Bear” part. I signed my name. With my school signature line, just so he knew I was a teacher, too.)

I don’t think that was an unkind email, do you? Or should I have just kept my trap shut? I don’t know. Frankly, I don’t really care. You can’t speak unkindly to my kid and make him cry – whether you are a bully on the playground or an elementary staff member (who, quite honestly, should know better). I know the staff must be so frustrated with the traffic situation, but curb the attitude around kids, people! Get yo’ frustrations under control! That’s what makes us adults and them children.

Or am I wrong?

Help a mama bear out…

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62 thoughts on “Mama Bear Rears Her Head

    1. Sandy

      *stupid ipad! If it had been me, I would have walked Bean through the door, pointed him toward his classroom, and proceeded to the office to report the incident! Our elementary school would have all the teachers aides outside and in the halls pointing the kids in the right direction. Sounds like you need to start a list for that first PTA meeting!

      1. Suzanne

        I second that! That’s exactly what I would have done as well. I get sassy when it comes to my family and especially my kid(s).

    2. Heather

      I am a first grade teacher and a Mama Bear of a soon to be 1st grader. I wouldn’t have been able to be as kind as you were in that email. Nice job Mama Bear!

  1. Uhhhh, no. You are totally in the right here, in my opinion. I would be FURIOUS. No one should be yelling at the children, especially children who are brand new baby students.

  2. Vicki

    I would have so done the SAME thing after teaching for 39 years. Silence is wrong. Maybe they need a friendlier face out front doing car duty.

    did he reply?

  3. Ann

    Heavens NO you are NOT wrong! For Pete’s sake that lady is crazy! I think you did the nice approach. 🙂 Each time we’ve had a minor issue at school, I’ve marched myself, all smiles, into the principal’s office. My mom always tells me “you are your child’s biggest advocate!” I say well done to you and Chris! I would have a) gone postal on the spot or b) taken the day off work to cuddle my baby. 🙂

  4. beth

    oh hell no! You were actually much nicer than I would have been. I would have marched my butt right into that school and demanded to see the principal on. the. spot. I understand the frustrations of the carpool line and trying to get school started on time. (been there as a teacher and a parent). I can also understand if that teacher was having a bad morning, but this morning SHE was the representation of every single staff member and administrator in that building and it was not a favorable impression. You did good mama, because I probably would have had the cops called on me. Let us know if he/she responds and how tomorrow goes. Much love.

  5. Kat

    NOT WRONG AT ALL! OMG I would have been in his office with Bean WAITING, holding that staffer by the shirt sleeve. Okay, maybe that is a TAD drastic, but definitely would voice my input.

  6. I would have been much less polite. Kudos to you for keeping it together and sending a very polite but direct email. 🙂
    I hope Bean has a better second day of school drop off.

  7. Heather

    I agree with you and the others. I would have been beside myself. I, too, probably would have busted into tears along with my kids. What in the world was she thinking!? I don’t have car pull here in big old Erie, PA but putting them on the bus was scary enough. Thank
    Goodness I know that the first day of school and each day after they are greeted by the best staff. If I ever found out or saw other wise I would have done the same thing. Good job!

  8. Teresa

    I am a retired elementary teacher (32 years), the mother of two boys and grandmother of two. I applaud your email. Yelling at small children and their parents because you are frustrated is not acceptable. One of my regrets is that I was not more of a mama bear when my boys were in school. I felt like as a teacher, I shouldn’t express displeasure with another teacher. I only called the principal one time. I wish now that I had been more “into” their schooling. So go Mama Bear when you need to. As a teacher, you will know when to speak up and when to bite your tongue. You go girl!

  9. jamie

    do you see my bulging eyeballs??!!??? i am furious and i wasn’t even there. in our drop off/pick up loop, there are several staff members and two principals every single morning and afternoon. for at least the first week at our elementary schools there are additional parent volunteers outside and inside the buildings to guide children to their classrooms if needed. and parents are always allowed to take kids in if they so desire, especially in the mornings of the first week.

    and that yelling woman?!!??!!? chris is a much better person than i am because i would of told her very kindly how i felt about her ridiculous uncalled behavior!

    i hope the principal is prompt in replying and that tomorrow bean has a much happier experience.

    a {high five} for your email!

  10. Andie

    You definitely did the right thing in letting the principal know that yelling at children is not okay especially when they are first starting school! How infuriating!! I really hope they get more complaints about that and fix that asap.

  11. Hannah

    I think you did the right thing! I probably would have had a hard time leaving him. I’m a teacher in an elementary school, and I can’t imagine not letting parents in the building at drop off after the first day! Our parents are in and out of the building (which is always locked so they are buzzed in) all day every day. I would be sad if I couldn’t walk my kindergartener-who had his first day today- to his class.

  12. Casey

    You have every right to speak up on behalf of you child!! I would have given that staff member a piece of my mind right then and there. Thinking things through and sending a polite, yet stern email is not how I typically react but I’m getting better.

    But seriously, was she out of her gourd? She really shouldn’t be working with or around kids if she can’t keep her cool in chaotic, stressful situations!

  13. Katy

    I am taking deep, soothing breaths on your behalf…wow. Just wow. If it had been me, I’d have confronted the staff member (in an icy cool and calm voice) then and there, and told her her behavior was unacceptable, and insisted she apologize to Michael on the spot. (Understandably, though, Chris wouldn’t want to go head-to-head with a female staffer.) I’d probably have followed up via email as you did so there was a “paper trail,” and also so I could choose my words as wisely as you did. What a tough start to what should be a great, memory-making week. But Bean is so bright, you can totally turn this into a teachable moment–it won’t be the last time he’ll encounter less-than-ideal behavior from an authority figure. He’s old enough to understand grown-ups make mistakes too.

  14. Leslie

    You are so right imaginary friend!! How awful of this woman! My little guy is on his second day too, I can’t even imagine. I’m glad you said something. Poor Bean, hope the rest of his day went smoothly.

  15. Abby strand

    You handled that way better than I would have!

  16. Valentina

    You did the right thing and I had done the same if at the place of Michael was Sara!!!! I hope tomorrow it ll go better 🙂

  17. Kristin

    Sounds good to me!

  18. Nydia Nelly

    Way to go Katie!! Your email expressed concern for your baby in a very professional way. You handled the situation beautifully! But I really want to know what he replied!! Lol

    Hopefully tomorrow is a new, happy, and exciting day for Bean!

  19. Jenn

    You did good Mama.

  20. Deana

    I work very close and our k teachers meet the students in the hallways while paras meet them at car/ bus/ walking ect and WALK THEM! Otherwise we would have a ton of kinders wandering around.

  21. Jenna

    Perfect, Katie. You gotta do what you gotta do, but you were able to go above and beyond and handle it nicely! (Which will probably get you further anyway.) And as another elementary teacher myself: it is that staff member’s JOB to be nice to kids and families, even when it’s hard. I hope Bean’s third day is wonderful and happy!

  22. You are absolutely not wrong! I would have done the same thing. Chris has way better control of himself than I would have. Kudos to you both! I’m curious what the reply will be.

  23. Tracy B

    I have been teaching for over 20 years and recently received my elementary principal certification. I assure you that you absolutely did the right thing. The administrator should appreciate your email and I hope that the response you receive reflects appreciation. You’re right. There is no excuse for a staff member to yell at young elementary students, especially when their impressions of school are still being formed. You were polite and professional. Good job!

  24. I hope you are not the only parent who reported the situation. Yelling at students, especially those new babies, is NEVER acceptable. Had it been my child, I would have taken him right back to my car and waited for the arrivals process to be finished, and went back in straight to the principal’s office. I’d love to hear about the principal’s response.

  25. Sara

    At 15, 12 & 10, my kids are mostly past the first days of school jitters…but your post made me furious on Bean’s behalf. So this one teacher made him cry not once, but twice because she was yelling rudely at the students? Oh no, not going to continue! I’d have flat out told her “oh I’m not taking him to class, we’re going to the principal’s office to discuss your behavior toward my son and these other students!”. Way to traumatize them when they are first starting school, mean teacher.

  26. Abby

    I think that you handled it well with your email. This year will probably be a big lesson in learning when the mama bear needs to come out and ROAR at a situation and when a small growl will do. (Awful analogy, but you know what I mean!)

    I don’t think it was right for the staff member to be yelling at the kids, but I do think it’s important to remember it was only her second day too. If the policies were overwhelmingly stressed to you as parents, they were probably even more so to the staff members. Not only could she have had a rough morning before heading into the stressful situation, but could also be feeling pressure like she would be punished from the higher ups if things weren’t running smoothly. We all have bad days and need a little grace!

  27. Bess

    Right on!! I’m an elementary school teacher and would do the exact same thing. Not ok ever, but especially on day TWO for a little one!

  28. Elizabeth Moss

    I think the email was polite and clearly address what your specific issue was. I can understand frustration and that is probably what the yelling staff member was feeling but it still doesn’t excuse the behavior. I know that at my daughters’ old school (we switched this year), there was a second grade teacher who was kind of a yeller and it worried me that my daughter might end up in class.

    As for no parents past the front door, our school has the same policy. For the first two days, they let parents on campus, on the third day the rule was enforced. For everyone, preschoolers, kinders, all grades. I personally like the rule because it helps my kids make the transition and when parents linger, I think it can be hard, especially on little ones. There are always staff members at the gate (where only one entrance is open so all kids come in the same way) and all preschoolers and kinders wear bright yellow highlighter shirts so you can pick them out of the bunch. First weeks are hard. You know your kid the best and it is your job to advocate for him in his schooling. If you had an issue with I am sure you weren’t the only one.

  29. Hilary

    Okay, I am a bit of a worrier so before my kids even started elementary school, I had back-up plans. As in, if this school is not conducive to my child’s style of learning, if they are not responsive in the way I expect, if they don’t meet our standards of academic curriculum, etc. We also purchased a home in a great district, but you never know. There are at least three other elementary schools, some private, that I would send my child to if need be. It might be a bit drastic, but if you notice that these problems continue, it’s not worth having poor Bean upset and hating school at 5. The school districts where my husband and I teach allow educators’ children to attend as well. Does your district have that option if you wanted to bring Bean with you?

  30. Liz

    You did the right thing; I would have been much sharper in my email. That is totally unacceptable and a terrible way to treat anyone, much less small children. At our school, the parents must walk the kindergarteners into the school all year. In the first week, we take them personally to their classroom; after the first week, we drop them in the hallway next to the principal’s office, where a teacher’s assistant waited to lead the whole class to their room, and then their teacher met us in the afternoon to pair us up with our kiddos to go home. Only in first grade, after an entire year of that, do they start to go to their classrooms by themselves with the rest of the older elementary students. It was cumbersome sometimes, but the children felt very secure – which is so vital to their success in the classroom. You go Mama Bear!!!

  31. You are more than right. I can’t believe you stayed so calm in the email. I don’t think I would have been able to.
    Any adult should know better than to take out their frustrations on kids. Especially kids so young. ESPECIALLY adults who work with kids in the first place. I hope the principal takes your email seriously and has a talk with the staff about how they talk to/in front of the kids. (I’m over here steaming mad for you. I do not look forward to having these issues when my son is older.)

  32. Carrie

    I think you let her off easy. She sounds like a NUT and the last person who should be greeting students each morning! I’m glad you spoke up; hopefully she gets a stern talking to from the principal and she changes her ways.

  33. Beanie, Gracie & Tillman's Nana

    Better that this incident happened with you rather than “Nana Bear” who would have chased her down like she had honey on her buttocks!

    1. Suzanne

      Get her Nana Bear!! 🙂

    2. Ashley

      You GO Nana Bear! 🙂

  34. Sk

    this was unwarranted in my opinion. i don’t think you even gave the school a chance….it was only day 2. things are always chaotic! i think you should practice patience and understanding instead of jumping on the offensive. that’s not fair to the school or your son.

    1. Sharon Faye

      If a staff member is yelling at adults and children and scaring small children to the point of terror and making them cry, then yes, the issue needs to be addressed. And is not at all UNwarranted. Someone screaming at people only adds to the chaos. I don’t feel Katie’s email to the principal was on the offensive. That staff member was probably stressed as well and might be better off in another area, rather than directing traffic into the school. The principal needed to know the issue so that another person or more people could be called in to help next morning.

  35. You were incredibly nice! I can definitely think of less kind ways to express the same message. Good for you for pointing out the problem. You may not have even been the only one to express the same sentiment yesterday.

  36. You absolutely did the right thing. This upsets me so much!

  37. I absolutely would have at the very least sent an email if this happened to my little one, and I think your email is very kind and actually glosses over the situation a bit. I am not good at keeping my mama bear anger in check, I try, but have a really hard time not telling it like it is. You did better than me! And not having an aid or teacher waiting to help the new kindergarteners on their first week is absolutely ridiculous! Sorry, i’m getting upset for you… I hope Bean’s third day or school went MUCH better!

    1. Sarah S

      I agree – her e-mail seems a little nice! I have a 3rd and 4th grader and it took me a few years to figure this out but it’s good to raise concerns and to be firm and direct about them. The school really does appreciate this as long as you aren’t doing it all the time. ( I figure 2 or 3 e-mails a year to the principal is about the max, more to teachers, unless something is really awry that year). When my kids were in 1st and 2nd grade the bus driver let them off at the wrong stop the 2nd day of school alone. They had to find there way home through the neighborhood and both were in tears by the time they got home and I was frantic with worry. I was LIVID and e-mailed the principal right away. She responded with a phone call about 5 minutes later, asked if the kids were ok, apologized and said she’d talk to the driver. Then for the next few days she was out at bus time talking to the drivers before they took off on their route. It really made me feel a lot better. The school is there to help your kid have the best experience possible.

  38. NS

    I totally agree you did the right thing! It was upsetting just reading about that happening and I dread that when our kids start school this fall.

    I was so impressed with the way you worded your letter and stayed polite while getting the point across. I hope the principal takes it on board and Bean and all the other kids get a kinder reception from now on!

  39. Verena

    Hi, first thing, i think your decision was right. Second thing, as a german i don’t really understand what had happend besides your boy getting yelled at.

    What is a car pool lane? Why did someone have to wait an hour after pick-up time to get his kid?

    My daughter is the same sage, she goes to kindergarden since she is 3. We bring her between an timeframe in the morning inside to her wardrobe, change into inside shoes and literally hand over the responsibility of the child to the “teacher”, its called qute different here. And the same in reverse, when you pick the kid up.

    I know its a lot to ask, but would it be possible to explain a little bit whats up with those rules.

    1. Verena,

      Most school children in the US are driven to school by their parents. Car pool is when multiple children are driven in the same car by one of the parents. This allows parents to trade off on days for school drop off. It was a new school and a new school year so there were probably things that didn’t happen as smoothly as they should have. This resulted in some parents having to wait over an hour to pick up their children. This should get better in the next week as everyone learns the system.

      Kindergarten in the US is different than German kindergarten and Kita. There is a set time for school to start each day and the children must be there at that time, or they are marked late. Too many late arrivals will affect the child’s academic record. Also, the cultural “rules” are different – no changing into Hausschuhe in the school being the main difference. The parents are not allowed into the school to the classrooms for the safety of the children and staff. They want to make sure no bad people sneak into the building in the rush of school drop off. This rule is probably different for different schools, and also I would imagine depends on how large a school is.

      I hope you understand a bit more now. We are Americans living in Germany. Our daughters attend the local village Kita/Kindergarten. We have had to learn the German ways. 🙂

      Best,
      HausMillerAdventure

  40. Nope! As a preschool / Kindergarten teacher, and new Mom, I think you handled it very appropriately. There is a time and place for rules, but there always time for compassion within those rules. I hope Bean’s Kindergarten teacher was able to help him have a good day after a rough start!

  41. denny144

    I would have captured the whole thing on my cell phone and offered it up as proof to the principal who would then have not been able to side with the aide.

  42. As an elementary teacher (1st-3rd grade) and fellow Mama Bear, I am livid right at how they handled that drop off situation. What a terrible way to welcome students! How are they supposed to feel safe and loved that way? And if they don’t feel safe, how will they learn? Aw, poor Bean. And poor Mama and Papa Bear.

    I don’t think that email was out of line at all. Mine would not have been so nice. I hope Bean’s third day was better.

  43. Jess Z.

    You were right. If I had been Chris though, I would’ve walked him straight into the school after that. No one has the right to yell at my five-year-old like that, and I’m not going to let him start his day out crying and afraid if he was not the one who caused it (cause lord knows that he’s done that to himself before!).

  44. Suzanne

    Not only are you 100% justified in sending that email, you were extremely polite in your delivery, which goes a long way. I’m afraid I wouldn’t have been so polite, so I appreciate your insight. Also, I applaud Chris for remaining calm. If that would have been me, I would have either walked him straight into the school after giving her “the look” and reported the incident to the principal. Or I would have had words with her on the spot. I’m not a person who likes to make a scene but if you mess with the bull, you’re getting the horns. Mama Bear doesn’t play when it comes to being mean to her kids and making them cry for no reason. That’s not discipline, that’s just plain mean.

  45. Trisha

    I think you handled the situation very well, Mama Bear. Screaming lady at the drop off line needs a new morning duty! Curious to hear how your school handles the situation. My first grader is just this year feeling comfortable enough to walk in himself (I would walk him to the door previously), but if there were a screaming lady to greet him he would be like no way, Jose! Hope your sweet boy has a good day.

  46. HeatherM

    I would have pulled out my phone and recorded the teacher yelling. And I would have asked for her name. That way when I emailed the principal he could follow up directly with the teacher who was out of line. I think you were more than polite in addressing the situation. And I think you did the right thing by signing your teacher line. I’m a nurse and often make that known when I assist family members through their health challenges.

  47. HeatherM

    Oh, and I would have asked for some specific actions from the principal so he or she makes sure this doesn’t happen again. Specifically I would ask the principal to be outside observing and assisting during all drop-off and pick-up times, and also ask the principal to speak with this specific teacher and observe her behavior tomorrow. If the principal follows up with you, you may want to ask for these things, or ask “what are you doing to address these issues and what are you going to do to make sure the staff do not scream at my child like that ever again?”

  48. Tressa

    I totally agree 100% with you and your readers comments! I would have acted just like her, I would have yelled at her! lol So I admire your (and Chris) cool and calm sense!! I hope day three was better for Bean!! Please do let us know what the principal did in response of your email.

  49. Tabs

    Totally NOT out of line! You did the right thing! You wrote a very eloquent letter that was neither mean nor disrespectful. Great job mama! I felt my mama bear rising up in me just reading this so I don’t think my letter would have been as nice… probably gotta work on that before Owen get’s to be school aged… 🙂

  50. Oh! that makes me so mad FOR you! Your email was perfect.

  51. Verity

    I would have sent a much sterner email than that. Her behaviour was unprofessional and incompetent and I would have asked her name, seen her staff ID and complained by email, letter & in person to the head and to her. I would also be asking for a personal apology from that member of staff. If their policies are that disorganised as to be unsafe – which is what that car pool system sounds like then they need to sort it out now and should have sorted it over the summer. I’ve also never heard of a school where parents cannot enter with their child! That floored me – if they’re going to do that then their teacher or teaching assistant needs to be outside waiting for them. Are there any other schools you could move him to? Well done for complaining but get much much tougher with them! Hope Bean ok

  52. vicky s

    You absolutely did the right thing. Bravo! If you don’t stand up for your kids, who will? My son developed a horrible fear of school after one of the teachers yelled at him when he dropped part of his lunch on the floor (he had just turned three years old). He started wetting his bed, meltdowns at night, before school, and he would shake when I dropped him off at school. He even said it was a ‘bad school’. Eventually I believed him and had him removed. All the trauma eventually went away.

  53. Sarah

    Wow. This makes me so sad to think of how school may be when mine starts in 4 years. I think it’s absolutely ridiculous you can’t walk your child in every dang morning the whole year long if you so choose. And the pickup time
    Your friend experienced would be totally unacceptable. Lord willing if we still live where we live when she starts, we are doing private school.

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