Yes, that's right, the knives. I forgot about the knives.
I had a parent conference with a mother last year whose daughter had come in late during the year - apparently she was either expelled from her previous school or the mother had pulled her out because she thought the school was fit to expel her soon. The girl had ripped down bulletin boards, started a lot of fights, and cut off a girl's ponytails with her mother's knives.
I kind of didn't know where to start with this because this particular girl, although being very... well, what we call "ghetto," hadn't really started fights or anything in my class and in fact was really smart and we hit it off really well. I asked the mother what she had thought of the previous school and she got really upset and started complaining about how they wouldn't even let her bring her knives to a parent-teacher conference. And when she said "knives," she measured in the air with her hands about two feet apart. These were not pocketknives she was talking about.
The rest of the conversation went like this:
Mother: Yeah, my knives (same hand gesture). I was sergeant-at-arms in my bike club [note to suburbanites - she doesn't mean like Tour de France cycling on the weekend, she means a motorcycle gang] and you's required to be armed at all times when you's sergeant-at-arms.
Me: [a little shell-shocked] But I don't see your knives.
Mother: Yeah, I'm president now, so I'm not required to carry arms.
Me: [in my head: Thank you Jesus!] OK. Well, I haven't seen your daughter start fights or attack anyone or destroy any school property. She's really good at math and she likes helping out in the classroom.
Mother: Yeah, she like you. She didn't like her last teacher. She made her quit. If she don't like you, she be real bad. But she like you.
That was one of my more memorable parent conferences. But some day I'll write about the various parents who have threatened to kick my ass in different sorts of ways and the parents who have taken off their belts, handed them to me, and told me to use them on their child if their child got out of line.
On a different note: I looked around the classroom today and realized Oh my God, I'm the only adult in here! I mean, I knew that, but... I'm the only adult in here! I don't know if I can (or should) explain any more how sort of disturbing that was!