This morning, with about 10 minutes left in first period Calculus, one of my students (J) made a comment that I didn’t quite hear. The student in front of him – normally pretty easy going – vehemently and repeatedly told him to shut up, to be quiet, to not say that, to stop talking. I was going to let it go, but with that strong of a response, I had to intervene, especially since J has a tendency to be rude to others.
Me: “J, what did you say?”
J: “I just said that I don’t really see you as a mom. I just don’t see you and little kids.”
Half the class starts yelling at him to shut up, to not say that. The other half is confused.
Last week, on the school retreat, I shared with the girls in my house* during small group time that we’re struggling with infertility. I didn’t ask them to keep it to themselves, and apparently, some of them had shared it with their friends.
I stood there in silence for a moment, not really sure what to say, and decided to just go on. I really had no idea what to say, we had math to do, and there were only 10 minutes left in class.
On Fridays, on their exit tickets, I ask students to tell me one good thing that happened this week. Three of the girls (two of whom are in my house) wrote that I would be a great mom and that any kid would be lucky to have me.
Class ends, they all leave, and 2nd period starts filtering in. A minute later, J steps back in and asks if he can talk to me at lunch.
At lunch, he makes a beeline for me to apologize. He said he didn’t know what was going on, that he’ll be praying for us, and that he realizes that it was just a stupid thing to say in general, even if he didn’t know. (Hooray growth!)
Honestly, J’s comment didn’t bother me that much. I had no idea how to respond, but I know this kid. He shoots his mouth off without thinking, and he was trying to be funny. I ride him hard, and I’m pretty snarky, so all he meant was that he doesn’t see the warm and cuddly side of my personality. He wasn’t trying to hurt my feelings; he just put his foot in his mouth. He was being a 17 year old boy who hasn’t learned when to keep his mouth shut. He was thoughtless, but he wasn’t mean.
The response of my other students, though, was overwhelming. I was fighting back tears for the beginning of second period because of the kindness of those girls who wrote me notes. A student in my 5th period asked me if I was ok and said that she’d been ready to fight him at lunch. She pointed out that the original student who’d told him to shut up looked like he’d been ready to punch him.
I am overwhelmed by the kindness and thoughtfulness of my students. They stood up for me, they looked out for me, they encouraged me. I felt very, very loved.
*Think Harry Potter, but without the boarding school aspect.
Also, my husband had the day off and came up and had lunch with me!