She brought him back.
At almost the 10 minute mark I could hear the Herdman-mobile approaching. I met Mrs. Herdman and Billy K Herdman in the main foyer. He was wailing loudly and begging his mother not to leave him. She was crying; he was crying; I should have been crying.
With tear-soaked eyes she explained that she didn’t know what to do. I assured her that he would be OK after she left and that she needed to leave him, it really was in his best interest. She finally agreed. I grabbed a hold of Billy (his arms were still wrapped around his mother’s left leg) and she pried his little hands loose. He was screaming at this point and she crying even louder. I swear, it could not have been more emotional if he had been departing on a troopship. She finally went out the door.
I so wish I had a video of this entire episode. She would not have made it all the way back to her car when Billy stopped crying, entirely. It was like a set of windshield wipers going from full-on to completely off. I couldn’t believe it – he didn’t even try to hide the fact that if had all been a show. I said, “Wow. You really got your mom worked up, didn’t you?”. He agreed. Man, he was good.
Now that we had mother out of the picture we could focus our attention entirely on Billy. He was still agitated and in no mood to go to class. The intervention worker and I escorted his to the conference room. He continued to insist that he be sent home. He was loud and abusive. I left the room hoping that Lori could calm him down, but I didn’t go far. I sat just outside the conference room in the main office.
A few minutes later a police officer arrived. I hadn’t met this particular officer before. I thanked him for responding, and I gave him a full account of the morning’s events. While I was doing so you could hear Billy in the next room, it was obvious he wasn’t happy. The officer then said, “Do you want me to go in and get him to calm down?”. It was obvious that he had no idea of what he was about to face. I’m sure he had a vision of simply walking into the room and Billy suddenly submitting to his presence and authority. I wanted to tell the office that that wasn’t necessary, but it was obvious that he wanted to help and felt that he had an ability that we didn’t possess. I looked to the school secretary and, although no words were spoken between us, we both had that, Sure – let’s feed him to the shark, look in our eyes.
As I recall, the officer was a bit taller than me and was certainly stockier. When he opened the door to the conference room he nearly filled the void. He entered and, just before he closed the door behind himself I heard Billy say, “How ya doin’, fat-man?” I felt guilty sending him in.
After a minute or two the officer resurfaced. His first words to me were, “I can’t believe it. He kept calling me fat-man.” He couldn’t fathom the fact that this nine-year-old had no respect for him or the uniform. He kept shaking his head. I don’t know if I can properly describe the look on his face but, knowing what I know now, he looked like he was experiencing a bit of P.T.S.D. (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). As he left the building he looked like someone contemplating retirement.
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