I guess that it's needless to say that my life was very busy when I was teaching two grades in the same classroom. It wasn't just that way for me, where first and second grades were combined. The third and fourth were together, as were the fifth and sixth. The three of us as teachers had a comradery, except by the end of the day we were too tired to discuss it. Lol!
After lunch and recess, I would get right back into teaching one grade while the other grade would work on their seatwork. The ones working at their desks would be called a row at a time for bathroom break. That gave me no more than three or four kids of the same sex in each bathroom at the same time. When I saw that all of the kids in that row had returned, then the next row would get called. What could go wrong, right?
One afternoon things went very wrong. A little girl came back into the classroom crying and, setting aside the usual protocol, ran right up to me to talk. Now, six and seven years olds know nothing of discretion or of when something is needful of a private conversation. They will tell you anything, anytime, and with no prompting. If you have a child this age, you had better make sure that you can trust that teacher with your family secrets. Because you can mark it down, they know more about you than you would ever really be comfortable with. :)
So, the outburst went like this: "Sally was mean to me in the bathroom and she said the f word!"
Okay, that was the presenting problem. But there was an immediate secondary problem. Some 'big' girls had been in that bathroom at the same time. Within two minutes, the situation had 'gone viral'. The entire elementary school was abuzz with the news. One of the first graders had said the f word! This was grounds for immediate expulsion. I could feel the principal breathing at my door. This was, after all, Christian school.
But this was not a rebellious high school kid. This was an innocent seven year old, with whom I had not had one second of problem previous to this incident. Everyone calm down for a megasecond and let me see what's going on.
I took the crying child out to see what had happened from her prospective. There had been words on the playground amongst the girls. Someone wasn't going to be invited to someone else's birthday party. Happens every day. That is the currency of a seven year old when they feel slighted. No one passed them the ball. Someone didn't talk to them at lunch. I'll show you!
Okay, nothing there. So I head into the girl's bathroom, where Sally is alone, crying. I kneel down and park myself behind the door, so no one else can come in. She runs to me, sobbing.
I let her cry. After she gets better, I ask her what happened. I get the same playground story. Obviously, it just continued into the bathroom. I get to the bad word. I ask her what it means. Of course, she doesn't know. I knew she didn't. I tell her that that is a very bad word, way worse than stupid or crap. She knows that. That's why she said it. The other girl was really being mean.
So I get to where I was going all along. "Sally, how do you know that word?"
You've heard it said, be careful what you ask for. Well, be careful what question you ask, if you can't handle the response. I knew I wasn't going to like the answer. But I needed to know.
She burst into tears again. "My daddy says that to me all the time when he gets really mad at me."
Now I'm crying, too. She is in my arms. We cry together. Kids keep hitting my back with the bathroom door. Sorry, bathroom's closed. Big doings going on. Good thing I have a teacher's aid.
Daddy is a big shot in church. Sadness.
We pray, wash her face, and give her a cool, wet paper towel to take back to her desk. Time to get started on her seatwork.
I'm in the principal's office, pleading for my kid. I don't care what kind of precedent it sets, I'm fighting for her. She can be the one exception to that expulsion rule for all of the history of the school. Sally stays! :)
I've said all that to say this. We've talked about it before. You have no idea what someone has been through. What they are enduring at this very moment. Have a little compassion. Don't be so quick to judge. Be kind to everyone. Life is difficult. And for some, very difficult. And maybe not another living soul knows.
Jude 22~ "And of some have compassion, making a difference."
[The story you have read is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.] :)
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