( — An elementary school teacher in Newfoundland, Canada has reportedly been put on paid leave as district officials investigate a claim she sprayed a student with an odor eliminator to mask his fishy-smelling lunch.

Patti Rideout told CBC News she was “very hurt and very angry” after learning the teacher of her 10-year-old son, Christian Roberts, had put him in the hallway then sprayed him with Febreze last week.

Other kids at Twillingate Island Elementary School had teased him over the fried capelin meal she’d made him, she said.

“I feel like he’s been embarrassed, bullied, and I think what she [did] was very disgraceful,” Rideout told CBC News. “I think my son was treated not like a human being — I think he was treated like a dog, or a cat … I’m very hurt and very angry over this.”

Silliness.  It is difficult for me to know where to start with this, the teacher, or the mother.  I think people’s egos are far to easily bruised that they cannot stand back from situations in which they find themselves and look to point fingers everywhere except where common sense would dictate.

Why on Earth would this mother send her child to school with a fried fish sandwich for lunch?  In my eldest daughter’s six years of education it has never occurred to me send her with a fried fish sandwich.  But this mother thought it was OK.

This decision resulted in her son being teased, and I understand why.  Kids are kids.  They easily spot things that aren’t the usual.  10 year-olds are notorious for eating peanut butter and jelly, ham and cheese, or maybe even turkey.  ‘Hey, what’s that stink?  Eww, he’s eating fish…and it stinks.”  So the kid eats his atypical lunch and suffers the aromatic consequences of his mother’s bright idea.

Here’s where it gets strange for me.  The teacher recognizes that the boy is being singled out for his odoriferous emanation and intervenes as best as she can on-the-fly.  The teacher removes him from the class, away from the other children in an effort to compensate for this poor child’s mother’s inane menu selection.  What were the teacher’s options?  Send the child to the office?  Would that not be seen as embarrassing?  “‘Ha ha, Christian had to go to the office cause he smelled so bad!’  I suppose she could have sent him home, but that would likely elicit a similar complaint from mom; embarrassed she had to be called to retrieve her smelly child.

The mother ought to be grateful the teacher tried to remedy this awkward situation, though admittedly in a rather unconventional and hastily planned manner.  I don’t know the other options the teacher considered before finally settling on Febreze but, this problem could have been completely avoided if the mother had shown even the slightest bit of judgement and packed a normal lunch.  It’s not that people must conform to societal norms, but it never ceases to amaze me when people do things that are out of the ordinary, and become offended when people take notice.

I would bet all the money I could borrow that this woman is chronically offended and an habitual complainer.


  1. “Why on Earth would this mother send her child to school with a fried fish sandwich for lunch?”

    How about because she’s a Newfie, and they eat a lot of fish. These are the folks that eat seal flipper pie, remember? Why on earth would it be weird to have fish in a kids’ lunch? Lord knows, my mother gave me some pretty “weird” lunches when I was a kid. The good thing is, the kid is actually getting a good, home-made lunch, rather then crap like PB&J sandwiches. How tiresome.

    “The mother ought to be grateful the teacher tried to remedy this awkward situation,”

    No, the mother has ever right to be angry for the teacher to treat her child this way. It was ridiculous and unwarrented. What the teacher *should* have done was deal with the bullying classmates, not become one of the bullies. Seriously. What would the teacher have done if a kid bought in *gasp* sushi for lunch? Or a stir fry? Heaven forbid!

    • It’s not necessarily weird that he had a fish sandwich per se, but the fish was obviously not a pleasant or neutral smelling fish. Sushi and stir fry arent nnecessarily offensive smelling foods. It’s not weird for a kid to have a cheese sandwich either, but some choices are better than others. A Morbier, or German Beer Cheese (two smelly cheeses) sandwich might be a bad choice.

      People want to discount human nature, especially a child’s human nature. They try to live life and expect what should be the way things are, and not how they really are. For example, the kids shouldn’t make fun of a smelly classmate, but they will make fun of a smelly classmate. I think it would have have been worse to leave the kid smelling and pretend reality isn’t reality. Leaving him there and hushing the kids won’t stop them from making comments and harassing him later when no teachers are around.

      Kids and bullies zero in on the non-conformity. Not that everyone has to be the same, but out of the normal range of difference will make you a target. It is always best for kids and parents to be aware of this reality and not make themselves or their kids targets just because it shouldn’t be that way.

  2. “I think it would have have been worse to leave the kid smelling and pretend reality isn’t reality.”

    It was his lunch that was smelly, not him. If that were really the issue, a breath mint would have done the job, not spraying him.

    • why would the boy need to be sprayed if the smell were only on the sandwich? If malicious embarassment were intended, I would think the teacher would have sprayed the boy in the room. n Why do it somewhere semi-private?

  3. “why would the boy need to be sprayed if the smell were only on the sandwich?”

    Because the teacher is a doofus? Seriously. You just don’t do something like that. Heck, even if he ate a bulb of garlic for breakfast and had garlic BO, spraying him wouldn’t have done a thing.

    My point being, he wouldn’t have needed to be sprayed for having a strong smelling lunch. It would have accomplished nothing, and it was just the teacher bullying the child, worse then his classmates were. Frankly, the parents could even make the arguement that it was a physical assault.

    • As I said in the post, this was a rather unconventional and hastily planned solution. There wasn’t more to go on, and I admit there may have been other options. I guess I am presuming — barring new information — the better intentions of the teacher and not assuming a malicious intent behind the spraying.

      Right now it appears as though the boy himself had a foul odor as a result of the lunch.

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