So, we left off in our story with my rather uncomfortable parent phone call and then student conversation. And yes, I know that was MONTHS ago. I haven’t been good about updating, but am going to make a more concerted effort in 2011! YAY for blogging and reflecting!
Back to the story…
I walk into the gym one morning, with the intention of reminding two students to go to stationary to buy sweatpants (ahh the life of a teacher!). As I am searching for one of the students, Smiles, and another student overhears. She tells me that she is looking for Smiles as well, because Smiles left her cell phone and home and her mom found it and read the texts, then texted her (perhaps not mom’s best move, but). I look at the friend, my blood pressure rises and ask how worried I should be on a scale of 1-10. She says 4 – which, all things considered, is not that bad. When Smiles finally arrived, the friend updated her, I reminded her about the sweats, and off we went into our day.
In the meantime, Smiles has been dealing with hives that are appearing and causing her to itch for no apparent reason, so she went to the nurse a few times during the morning. When the classes were switching, she came up to me and asked if she could talk to me for lunch. I said of course, and thinking it had to do about school or something, really didn’t think about it until lunch rolled around. There were girls working in my classroom so Smiles and I decided we’d go to the oratory to talk (which was quite the scene with her eating pizza…in the small chapel…I was so scared a colleague would walk in to witness the craziness of it all).
(and I begin, trying to pretend that it isn’t odd that we’re eating pizza in the oratory) “So, Smiles…you said you wanted to talk. What’s going on.”
“Well, you know how my mom read my texts…” Oh God. WHAT DID SHE SEE, I want to scream – I AM screaming in my head. Instead, I tense up inside and calmly respond “Yes.” And then she just sorta stares at me so I continue… “What did she see, Smiles?” And then the eyes start welling up with tears. “Umm, well…” And then it comes out that there were text messages with boys, involving joking around about sex. At 13? Really? Turns out when she was at the nurse’s office, she called her mom about the hives and mom was crying about the text messages. So Smiles and I had a nice conversation about what sex means, and why we don’t joke about it, and why mom would be upset, and how we can restore our relationship with mom. All things considered, it was a nice conversation and she seemed very open to hearing what I had to say. I ask her, at the end, if this is something other girls are doing as well. She hesitates to answer, so I tell her she doesn’t need to respond and rephrase the questions to “is this something I should be addressing in class with everyone?” Without skipping a beat, “Yes.” Oh boy. Then she adds, “except, they aren’t joking around about it on texts. They’re doing it…um…in person.” And my heart sinks. So I close my eyes (to keep my own tears from falling) and start thinking about how I want to address this in class. It comes to me: Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson. “Got it.” I say. Smiles looks at me funny so I tell her that I figured out how I’m going to address it in class. Now I just have to get approval for it.