I didn't go to work today because I had a doctor's appointment that I've been putting off forever. I did have to stop by after school for a meeting, so I went to my classroom to grab a couple of things and the substitute was there. She said she was about to write me a note, but since I was there, she'd just show me. "Alaa was busy writing this on the back of his notebook during science today." She handed me his notebook and I turned it over onto the back and there, in big, pencilly scribbles was the word F**K. But the real word, not the one with stars in it.
I was shocked! Of all the kids in my class, I NEVER thought Alaa would write such a thing. He's a sweet, smiley, respectful young student! The poor kid sticks out like a sore thumb because not only is he Arabic, but he can't seem to hold his butt in a chair for longer than, I'd say, three and a half seconds. AND he is incapable of raising his hand without simultaneously shouting "Mrs. Fasciotto!!!" But I didn't think in a million years he'd be capable of such foul language. I showed Meredith what he did and she was just as shocked. I said, "Maybe he doesn't know what that word means!" And she reminded me that even if he doesn't, he still knows it's a BAD word and he should be in big trouble. So, begrudgingly, I called his parents.
His home phone did not work, so I called his dad's work phone. He answered and I explained everything to him, then he told me (with a very think Arabic accent) "I'm sorry, I don't understand much English. You call back and leave message, I show my wife tonight." So, I called back and left a message and I hope he did "show" his wife, because they need to have a little talk with Mr. Alaa.
I thought it was odd that Alaa's dad didn't speak English, and when I broght it up to my husband he told me a couple stories that made me feel a lot better about little Alaa's situation. Chud moved to the US when he was 8. He had to ride a separate bus to school when he was in the ESL program (English as a Second Language). He spent almost an hour every morning and afternoon staring at the back seats of that bus and guess what the first word he learned to spell was?? You got it - FUCK. He was pretty proud of himself too! Then, a couple years later, when he was in fourth grade (ahem, ahem), he saw a picture in a book of someone flipping the bird. Well, by this time he had figured out what that meant, so he shouted in a loud, French accent, "The book is fucking me! The book is fucking me!" His teacher was NOT happy.
Now, I know Alaa was raised in the United States, but he spends his summers in Jordan, and until today I did not realize that his Dad did not speak English! I've met his mother many times (I also taught his older brother) and she has a thick accent, but speaks English well enough. Alaa just always seemed like such a sweet and friendly young man, I'm beginning to wonder if maybe he just doesn't know what that word means? After all, I'm sure there are a couple of boys in my class who know perfectly well what that word means and they'd think it's hilarious to tell Alaa to write it all over his notebook. I really need to get to the bottom of this situation. Mr. Alaa and I are going to have a LOOOONG talk tomorrow!!