On Friday, after recess, three of my students were missing from my class. Two were taken by a secretary, and the third I figured was already down in the office. While I was hoping it was something innocuous, like they were being asked to participate as a leader in mass or something, I had an inkling that it was most likely due to something which had happened during lunch or recess.
So, sure enough, after I dropped my class off at their special and stopped by the office to check off my mailbox, I met my principal who takes one look at me and says “I hate Fridays. Come on in.” So we sit and she proceeds to tell me that there was an incident between my students. Apparently, one of the girls did something over the summer (my heart is racing and my palms are beginning to sweat) which prompted the other girls to call her a name at recess (not a good name…AT ALL). So the girl used a friend’s cell phone to call her mom during recess (breaking the rules. All cell phones are to be in the bookbag at all times!) who in turn called my principal which set the post-recess meeting in motion.
Meanwhile, without knowing ANY of this, I happen to have a conversation with my students during our after recess class about calling each other good names. We were discussing Uglies by Scott Westerfield, a fabulous book if you haven’t read it. Anyway, in the Uglies, the kids call each other nicknames based on their “beauty issues” (at 16 they become “pretty” by undergoing an operation). So I discussed with them how sometimes girls will call each other bad names (no, I wasn’t thinking the word they used) and how that is bad and it shows we don’t have respect for each other and if we don’t respect each other how can we expect boys to respect us…and on and on and on. And then I go and find out that the students who actually needed to hear my talk aren’t even in my room!
It breaks my heart that at such a young age my girls are already encountering meanness and bad choices and bad language. It also makes me realize just how difficult, and at times uphill, my job is – to try and help them see the good in everyone, and that by living according to God’s will for us, we will actually be happier in the long run. Suggestions?