How a game rated E for Everyone landed my child in front of the school psychologist

The youngest of my children has a stinging wit, a little (lot) beyond his years. He loves media content, and when combined with his photographic memory, can be confronting to those who don’t know him.


Charlie only needed to hear the Beatles sing Maxwell’s Silver Hammer a couple of times before he knew it by heart. Of course, he loved the lyrics – especially about bringing down that silver hammer on the teacher’s head – and found a funny animation online that went with the song. It became his favourite song to sing when out hiking. Needless to say, the shock of the poor bloke who was running the elementary school lip syncing night was obvious when Charlie and his friend was adamant it was this song they wanted to sing. (That didn’t happen. Disappointed, I was. Amused, a little. Relieved… oh yes. Parenting is all about complex reactions.)

The Portal cake I made (well, iced) for Charlie's birthday this year. No lie.

Charlie’s first introduction to the school psychologist came earlier this year when the students were given a ‘non-graded test’ – something that could be anonymous (Charlie wrote his name on the top which was optional, but he likes to claim his answers as his own in testing situations). The test was filled with some very touchy-feely questions about how the kids saw themselves and their place in school and home. One question, I’m told, asked “How do you feel about your relationships with your friends…” Apparently by that point Charlie had had enough of the non-factual information this so-called ‘test’ was asking, so he wrote “What do you think I am, a girl?” Implying these questions were over the top on the whole emotional thing and he didn’t want to answer them. (Yes, sexist and attitude, and all that… I get it… but he was being a smart alec. In fact, he says this kind of crap to push my buttons).

Next stop, the school psychologist who sat Charlie down and asked him “Charlie tell me, do you really think you’re a girl?” We didn’t get a phone call on that because Charlie managed to set her straight and assure her he was all dude, he was just expressing his distaste for the question. I found out about it recently – from Charlie himself.

Think that’s funny? And then the doozy.

Charlie, like most kids, loves his video games. He plays Portal 2, a game rated E for Everyone. A game full of black humour.

I was away for a few days, and he decided to write a parody poem for me to welcome me home. He did it at school. It was a parody on the song sung by the GLaDOS character in the game, which basically say that she wishes Chell did not exist.

“Well here we are again. It’s always such a pleasure. Remember when you tried to kill me twice? Oh how we laughed and laughed. Except I wasn’t laughing. Under the circumstances I’ve been shockingly nice….” You get the idea. He and I have joked for ages about the cake being a lie (from Portal 1, and related to the birthday cake I made him this year.) The cake is a lie is actually a bit of an internet meme, referenced by many. Charlie has incredible memory for detail, and that enables him to create some pretty complex jokes around situations and characters that only those in the know would actually really get. However, he is still 11, and he sometimes misses the fact that these things might need to be explained. Or else something we’ll just refer to as “the wrong idea” could be had.

Cue the school psychologist, and myriad questions about the way Charlie is treated at home. Emails were sent. Concerned phone calls made. And at the end of the day, both school and we were satisfied that Charlie is a precocious kid who is able to manipulate black humour just as well as the next adult – and that children can be extremely creative.

Oh, and the psychologist also now understands that the cake isn’t a lie.

And that, my friends, is why I only go to a couple of conferences out of state a year instead of every opportunity that presents itself. This child is just one of four.

One. Of four.


  • Oh, my. I can see how you would need to be VERY friendly with the school psychologist! (And not go out of town very often!)

    My penchant for 70s rock blew up in my face once when my then-kindergartner went to school singing, “I’m a joker, I’m a smoker, I’m a mid-night toker.”

    Um, yeah. Hello, School Social Worker.

  • Bingo! Lori, I hope your kindergartner was dressed in appropriate 70s gear as well. I always thought that my kids might end up singing Pink “It’s just you and your hand tonight” which would be completely weird coming from my sons. I’m personally a fan of Rebecca Black’s Friday – inoffensive on all levels except the actual singing one. 🙂

  • My 11 year old self & Charlie would get on famously, I think. I was also given weird tests like this. I remember one of the questions was “How old do you think you’ll be when you die?” I was tired of it, so I put 31. I figured I wouldn’t sound suicidal at least that way. Counselor’s office. In high school, any time I went by the counselor’s office and he was busy, I’d well up in tears, tell him I needed help, he’d tell me just a minute, and I’d go hide for the rest of the day. That was fun 🙂

    BTW: Yesterday was my 32nd birthday, so I guess I’m ok 😉

  • Oh my goodness, I am sure I am facing days just like that… I am glad it all got worked out though!

  • Happy birthday Sarah! I’m glad you made it through to 32, and didn’t jinx yourself. That whole how old do you think you’ll be when you die question would be enough to get irate parents into a classroom to berate a teacher these days I reckon.

  • Oy. Seriously there are going to be *so* many pitfalls to this whole parenthood thing, aren’t there? *sigh*
    And yet, I was in tears last night watching the Anderson Cooper special on bullying on CNN as I watched a school principal put the blame on the victim for not making his bully feel okay about his obviously insincere apology… so I guess I’d rather have an over-reactive school counselor to one who ignores the red flags.
    Still, looks like you’re going to get to know some of the school counselors well over the years! I need to ask my kidlet’s how she takes her Starbuck’s… (yeah, because I’m the one likely to end up in there saying ‘Heeeelllppp!!’ not the other way around.)

    E-for-Everyone sounds like it should be labeled E-for-Easily-misunderstood! 😉

  • Psychologists have no place in school beyond testing abilities.
    They are political correctness officers.

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