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Testing the Emotional Waters


c green

I need advice, people. This morning I had a meeting with the uncle of my High-Strung OverAchiever--the one whose test I lost, thereby ruining his young life.

A couple notes--Uncle was sent to the meeting because his English is good. He's the father of another student of mine who couldn't be more different from the HSOA--American-born, very relaxed, and prone to take bad grade with a philosophical sigh. Uncle seems like a nice man, understanding and pleasant. I explain my theory that the kid is so stressed he's gonna get high blood pressure in the eighth grade. We talk. Uncle says he tells the boy frequently to not worry so much about grades, and enjoy life more. He paints a picture very like the kid I know--won't play with the friends of the American cousins because they are childish, won't watch movies or TV, doesn't play much, very grade-driven. I explain that the grades fixation is leading to rude and difficult behavior in class. He says he will talk to the kid, and try to get him to relax a little. We chat. I let him go, feeling that I have an ally at home.

Then the HSOA gets to class, and starts feeling me out about what happened in our meeting. Soon, he is working himself up, and keeps asking me, plaintively, if I know what is going to happen when he gets home. I tell him I think his uncle will want to talk to him about the things we discussed. (I've already told him exactly what those will be.)

Kid begins to intone 'bad things are going to happen', and dab his eyes with Kleenex. In between making the morning rabble quiet down, I try to check in with him. He tells me his uncle is going to 'shout right in my face'.

I ask if this is something his uncle has actually ever done. I tell him that his uncle seems like a reasonable and nice person to me, although, of course, I don't know him as well as the HSOA does. Bear in mind, this is an ESL class, so we're not communicating as perfectly as could be hoped. He just keeps moping.

I'm just not clear on what I'm seeing. Is the kid morbidly afraid of his elders because he's internalized this huge fear of disappointing them? Is this pleasant uncle actually an emotionally abusive jerk? Should I be calling CPS? What exactly do you make of this? I was expecting much TENSER relatives, given the HSOA's generalized state of hysteria.


Senior Member
High strun kid/uncle

I don't know. It could be that he is a kid who thinks that if everything isn't perfect the world is going to collapse. I think that lots of kids today are pushed so far and hard by their families that they live in fear of disappointing them at ANYTHING. Have you ever seen anything that indicates that this child might be a victim of abuse? Are there other signs? I actually don't know that child protective services would do anything other than visit the house briefly to ascertain that the kid is okay. You said that you have the cousin in the class - does that child show any signs of abuse? Has the boy ever been afraid of adults before? Has he ever been afraid to go home? Could it be that he was just afraid of being yelled at by his uncle? In some cultures the pressure to succeed in school is HUGE. Families from outside the US expect a great deal from their children in school. Could he just be looking for your attention?