Choose a Hand Position


Momservation: Homework is the coconut in the chocolate bar of Back to School Almond Joy.

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Are my kids going to jail or school?

I’m starting to wonder if I accidentally sent my kids to military school.

Every year when school starts my kids come home with new stricter rules. It’s gotten so extreme that I almost said, “Good morning, Warden,” when I saw the principal today.

In fact, I’m starting to think I was lucky to get out of elementary school alive with all the new rules they constituted for “the children’s safety.”

Here’s a list of things kids are no longer allowed to do at my kids’ school:

  • No running at recess. Someone might trip and fall. Gasp!
  • No open toed shoes. Someone might skin or stub a toe at recess. Oh no!
  • No sleeveless shirts. Someone might get a sunburn? They can’t get scraped if they trip and fall because they’re not allowed to run…
  • No playing tag or chase. This ties into the running but I think it is the precursor to outlawing laughing and having fun…
  • No talking at lunch if it gets too loud. Is there a way to keep 200 kids quiet in a confined space? I can’t keep 2 kids in the back seat quiet.
  • No one’s excused to recess until everyone’s done eating and it’s quiet. So, basically, you have no recess.
  • If you are late you must get your hand stamped before going to class. And become the scarlet letter bearer of tardiness – we’ve come so far since the 1600’s.


As stupid as I think all these rules are I have encouraged my kids to go with the flow because you have to learn to adapt to rules that you don’t necessarily agree with or like to function in society.

“Rules are there for a reason,” I tell them. And then under my breath I say, “Because some idiot ruined it for everyone else.”

But the kids came home with a new rule the other day that has finally made me say, “Okay, time to fight the system.”

It is the Choose a Hand Position rule. Meaning whenever the kids are in the hallways and lined up they must choose a hand position: clasped behind their backs, hands in pockets or folded across their chests.

What’s next? Shackles on ankles and wrists?

The kids have been complaining that if they dare walk with their hands at their sides they are being yelled at from all directions and commanded, “Find a hand position!”

Yes, sir, I mean, ma’am, I mean, salute!

I send my kids to school to be educated not reformed.

Obviously, this is another knee-jerk reaction to a few kids being unable to keep their hands and feet to themselves. I hate to see what the blanket rule is going to be when kids start complaining, “Johnny won’t stop looking at me!” and the administration keeps being lazy. Choose an Eyeball Position? “You may look up, down or straight ahead otherwise walk with your eyes closed!”

Because I didn’t send my kids to military school, because this latest rule is unsafe (any day now a kid’s going to trip on the kid in front of them and not get their hands out of their pockets in time to brace their fall – concussion, knocked out front teeth seems like a good alternative?), but mainly because these generalized rules for a small minority creating misdemeanor problems are getting out of control – I’ll be at the first PTA meeting to teach my kids to stand up and say, “Enough is enough. We don’t agree with this and we need to figure out a better solution. Rules should be reasonable.”

And that hand stamp of shame? I know a place where the sun don’t shine for that thing…


  1. Tina S says:

    I finally had a chance to read your opinion on this. Personally, I think, we need to get to the root of the problem. It seems to me that many children are not being parented. It is pretty evident when it is the same kids that get in trouble over and over. So, I wonder if our “public” society has come to “it is a public school and my child has a right to be here no matter what their behavior is like” attitude. Does that leave our educators with no choice but to come up with rules to help monitor the few that don’t get it? I could be totally wrong but that is what I’m observing…

    • kellimwheeler says:

      For those of us who are parenting our children, and working hard to get our kids to make good choices when they are on their own, it is frustrating to have them be stripped of their right and responsibility to practice making a smart choice. I think individuals should suffer the consequences of a poor decision not an entire group.

      As a former 5th grade teacher I understand the challenges of getting 34 kids to behave, respect each other and practice social responsibilty. It is tempting to just throw your hands up and subject them to dictatorial rule – because it’s easier. But then, like you said, it’s not getting to the root of the problem or allowing kids to learn responsible behavior – and that is why I was there – to teach not dictate.

      I think the blanket rule of “Choose a Hand Position” was a lazy way out for our school in particular. It was an extreme reaction to a problem few. It should be a last resort policy when all other personal responsibility options have failed. The parents in our community are hands-on, involved, and active in their children’s upbringing. Our children deserved a little more effort and more intelligent solution from our educators to the age old problem of keeping your hands to yourself.

  2. Kelly K says:

    Perhaps if children were allowed to run and play like kids then they wouldn’t have so much energy for “busy hands.”

    I’m sorry, but if my kids were attending a school with such ridiculous rules I’d feel the need to pull them out and home school (already an option I’m considering, so not that “radical” to me).

    All I know, is my 3.5 year old is a wild and crazy boy. If you take away his energy outlet, he’s going to react by being disobedient and called ADHD or some other sort of crap. I don’t foresee that energy level dissipating in the near future.

    Somehow I went to school and ran, and played and talked at lunch. Somehow my teachers held complete control of the classroom. Somehow they helped us learn.

    And ridiculous rules weren’t needed to do it. Kids that had issues repeatedly were suspended or expelled.

    So uh, how are you supposed to carry books with that new Hand Position rule? Some kid is going to get his teeth knocked out, the parents will sue the school and another equally ridiculous rule will be in place. Perhaps kids will just get tied to their desks and never leave the classroom.

    I hope you had some success fighting against it.

    Never liked Almond Joy to begin with. More of Twix or Kit-kat person… 🙂

    • kellimwheeler says:

      Thanks for your thoughts Kelly K. It was definitely a polarizing issue at our school. Some teachers still won’t talk to me.

      The school handled it by semantics. Now they say, “Make a smart hand choice.” They aren’t as militant about it and mainly the primary grades are still reminding students about doing something with their hands.

      We practically had a lynch mob at the Back to School Night and that wasn’t my intention. I just wanted to show that a dialogue with parents needs to happen when they make drastic decisions regarding our children.
      I’m with you though – if you’re going to ask our kids to sit still and be quiet in class then give them a time when they can let steam off. If you don’t, guess where they’re going to misbehave? Pretty common sense…

      p.s. Twix rocks.

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