Though they may not be perfect, parents generally spend more time with their children than anyone else and will know what is best for them.
Another person who may believe they know what is best for children is a teacher, whether they’re correct about that or not, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor iguessimthatdad was angry when his daughter came home, upset after her teacher had confiscated her book for trying to read during recess.
Even after the parent explained his daughter’s history at school, the Original Poster (OP) was surprised how the teacher continued to pressure his daughter to socialize instead of read.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for becoming ‘that parent’ by causing a stink at my daughter’s school?”
The OP was comfortable with his daughter socializing the way she needed to at school.
“My daughter, Cleo (11) is very active outside of school.”
“She plays soccer, takes swim lessons, and plays outside a lot with neighborhood kids. She’s very social. Most of her friends are from outside of school.”
“At school, however, she struggles to make friends. Cleo has ADHD and was bullied in third and fourth grade for some of that.”
“While it was brought under control by fifth (current) grade, these kids still don’t play with her and pretty much ice her out.”
“While I don’t think they have to play with her, it also means that she doesn’t socialize a lot at school. She’s okay with this.”
Cleo’s current teacher was not happy with the arrangement, however.
“Her teacher says our daughter often plays alone at recess or reads.”
“My wife and I were not very concerned and explained she was very social and active afterwards.”
“Cleo is a huge reader. She’s currently reading her way through my wife’s collection of books from her childhood. She loves them and treasures them, knowing they were her mama’s, and wants to take great care of them.”
“She came home on Tuesday, very upset, and worried her mom would be upset with her.”
“I asked why and she said her teacher had taken her book away and won’t give it back until tomorrow.”
“When pressed for more information, she said she was reading at recess. Her teacher walked over, took the book, and told her to go play. My daughter begged for her book back and the teacher refused.”
“I quickly assured Cleo that she wasn’t in trouble and even called my wife at work to have her back me up.”
“It was quite concerning that she was so afraid, as my wife wasn’t one to fly off the handle. She’s always gentle with Cleo.”
“As suspected, my wife assured her she wasn’t upset and that Cleo did zero wrong.”
The OP called the teacher out the next day at school.
“The next day, I brought Cleo to school early and walked her to class. No one but the teacher was there.”
“I told the teacher to give me the book. She obliged and tried to defend herself.”
“I told her to save it and she had no right. There is no rule that Cleo has to do physical activity at recess and we expressed no concern about her behavior.”
“The teacher said she was allowed to set boundaries for her class.”
“I pointed out recess was free time. It’s not like Cleo is reading during math.”
“We went back and forth, and finally, I said I’d be reaching out to the principal.”
“The issue was resolved quickly. I don’t know the particulars, except the principal told me that Cleo is allowed to read at recess, and unless she is actively harming someone or reading during a non-designated time, she wouldn’t have any more books confiscated.”
“My wife and I were pleased, Cleo even more so.”
A family member called the OP and his wife out for the disagreement.
“My cousin is a teacher at this school, just in a different grade. She says what I did is ‘hot gossip’ in the teacher’s lounge and that I have been marked as ‘one of those parents.'”
“She says the teacher isn’t paid enough and I should’ve just accepted the rule.”
“When I pointed out we only have two more months left at this school (Cleo is our only child and starts junior high in August), that’s not a concern.”
“My wife and I feel justified, but we are wondering if I’m an a**hole?”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some didn’t like the teacher’s perspective on introversion and reading.
“Remember those reading comprehension tests you used to have to take? Yeah, the first time I did one of those, they handed me a book at my grade level. Somehow I was never good enough for PACE English Lit until middle school, but I was consistently reading and comprehending books two to three levels above from the time I was six, and those tests proved that.”
“Our education system is sometimes so focused on forcing kids into neat little boxes that they ignore what’s actually helpful to the child, and I think that’s exactly what’s happening here.”
“The teacher thinks that a healthy, ‘normal’ child should be running around and playing at recess, not reading. And so rather than airing her concerns to the parents and listening to their feedback, she takes it upon herself to ‘fix’ the kid.”
“OP can tell the teacher from me, a Bookworm and former Lonely Child at school, that reading instead of playing didn’t hinder my social skills.”
“What DID hinder me and make me incredibly anxious was being Othered and not permitted to be myself.”
“And it gave other kids a free pass to tease me because I wasn’t doing what I was ‘supposed to do.'”
“God, I have a huge amount of respect for teachers 99.9% of the time but then I see a teacher pull a stunt like this and it really gets me going. Like, when did reading become a BAD thing?” – another_armenian
“I assume this happened because introverted behavior is deemed as something that needs ‘fixing.’ This is the way it was in my case.”
“This school failed her three times: once when she was bullied, now that she’s being outcasted, and again taking away a perfectly healthy (and educational!) coping mechanism she found to occupy herself.”
“The choice between playing with other kids at recess or reading on your own is a choice between recovering from the class session by participating in a social activity or recovering by secluding yourself in a solitary activity, and at least in my school, choosing the solitary activity was frowned upon. NTA, OP.” – VRG833
“I was a reader like Cleo when I was in school, and there were always adults who thought my behavior needed to be ‘fixed’ for some reason.”
“Heck, to this day, if I’m reading in a public place, there are people who interrupt because, obviously, they need to save me from the pages.”
“NTA, OP. But that teacher sure is.” – Clean-Patient-8809
“The quiet readers are ALWAYS my favorite students. Why? Because they’re usually smarter and higher performing. They’re also not at all rowdy, nor do they cause any problems. I don’t want to make children sound like plants or pets or anything, but oh my god, they’re so much f**king easier to care for.”
“They’re not constantly vying for attention (negative or positive), and you can bond with them so easily! Just ask them to tell you about the current book they’re reading! Sometimes I go find a copy so I can read it and talk about it with them.”
“Next thing you know, you’ve made a relationship with your student, and if you’re consistent, you’ll become an adult they trust, and that’s so important because sometimes they need to talk to an adult that’s not their parent.”
“I f**king wish I had more kids like that. Besides, I have kids in the twelfth grade that are on a third-grade reading level. That teacher is shooting us all in the foot by discouraging reading.” – theoreticald**kjokes
“In fifth grade, my friend and I were at the far end of the playground so engrossed in a book we did not notice lunch ending. The yard monitor had to walk over and get our attention and was sure we were mocking her by claiming to be THAT interested in the book.”
“She took us to the classroom and said to the teacher, ‘They said they were reading,’ in a voice dripping with disdain.”
“Our teacher laughed and said, ‘These two? I believe it!'”
“The yard monitor hated us for the rest of the year, but Mrs. P. had our backs!” – Junior_Ad_7613
Others didn’t think a teacher’s salary was a good reason for the teacher’s behavior.
“I don’t know if it’s new, but there definitely seems like there’s a rise in, ‘Oh, this nurse/teacher’s bullying should be forgiven because they’re overworked and underpaid’ rhetoric. Like… so? How on earth does this translate to going out of your way to being a d**k?” – medievals**t
“She could be underpaid and still be the AH here. They are not mutually exclusive.” – PanTran420
“Teachers get a lot of unnecessary s**t pushed on them and not enough pay to deal with it.”
“Some teachers are s**tty people as well as s**tty teachers.”
“Not only are these facts not mutually exclusive, but the first can actually lead to the second being true more frequently.” – MildlyShadyPassenger
“NTA. And how does a teacher’s pay have to do with her overstepping her bounds? One would think if she wasn’t paid enough that she’d actually want to relax at recess instead of harassing children.” – Squirrel-mama
“The ‘next day’ part really got me. If we ever got anything confiscated, it was ‘until home time,’ and then we saw that teacher on the way out at the end of the day.”
“The teacher taking something away from a child that the child brought from home to enjoy during free time and the teacher refusing to return it until the next day definitely made this an ego trip for the teacher, and the teacher definitely expected the parents to see her the next day.”
“That gossip session in the teachers’ room would have happened either way as 1) I got to assert my power over a child and her parents or 2) I’m p**sed because a child’s parents wouldn’t stroke my ego and let me bully their kid for not playing with the kids that spent the last two years teasing her.” – Environmental_Art961
Even if the teacher thought it would be good for her student to socialize more with the other kids, even given their history of teasing her, the subReddit argued that the parents knew what was best for their daughter in this scenario.
Given her history at the school, ADHD diagnosis, introversion, and general interest in reading, it seemed she was much better off reading during recess and being social and physically active outside of school instead.