A Place in the Shade

My thoughts and stories; no more, no less.

The Bullies Win Again November 19, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — sweetfeet63 @ 8:26 pm

He’s one of those kids who is wired differently. Outside the box, the odd duck, however you want to put it. They are the ones we write about after all, not the ordinary ones. I had asked for him. We had developed a bit of a rapport when he was in the class next door, on his good days. I was happy to take him on, add him to my crew. After 18 years of teaching, I felt I had the tools to deal with him. And on that point, I was not proved wrong.

He has rough time, this kid. There are forces in him that he can’t always control. They result in the yelling and the hitting and the strange ways he leans on chairs to calm himself down. He is angry a lot. I don’t know if that’s because of those inner demons themselves, or his inability to control them, or the world’s reaction to him. But it’s there. And it keeps him from being the full person he wants to be.

He draws trees. Trees after trees after trees. Beautiful trees, and he knows their names and where they grow and the nature of their cones and seeds. Pretty remarkable for a six year old. His family spends time hiking and camping; they are a part of his culture. But the trees also speak to him. They are beautiful and regal and don’t challenge him. They are quiet and undemanding. They just are.

He’s as obnoxious as hell, this one. Lashing out at adults and children alike. He can tell if someone doesn’t like and respect him, and he treats them with disdain whether they are three feet tall or six feet tall. That’s gotten him in the most trouble. We call it disrespect. He’s just reacting with his emotions. There are days when I simply can’t take it, so I send him to a quiet corner or the principal’s office with his notebook. It doesn’t matter if he listens to the lesson or not, he’s smart enough to absorb it by osmosis.

I see his gifts. I see his light. The others don’t. They see his violence and his anger and his disruption. Their baby is in Kindergarten, and this kid is interrupting their child’s “perfect” Kindergarten experience. They want him out. They complain and cajole and bully until he is gone. I see no compassion in their actions.

Children come and go in a school, it is the way of education. But I am grieving more for the loss of this student than I have for any. I was particularly attached to him. I worked hard to bring him to a place that wasn’t so bad, where he had begun to see his self-control as useful, and find healthier tools to deal with life. The complainers have taken this away from me, have taken him away from me. Have interrupted his progress and mine, and forced him into a place where he has to start over.

I am angry. I won’t see him again, but I will see them. They have precious children under my care, innocent ones who deserve my attention as much as anyone else, and who I will hug really hard as we mourn the loss of their classmate. I’ll have to look the adults in the eye and pretend I don’t care what they did. And walk away from the comments and the questions. This is no solution in my book. Not for him, not for me. And not for the children who will never learn about understanding and compassion from a boy who is just a bit different.


The Joy of November November 1, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — sweetfeet63 @ 5:01 pm
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Contrary to popular opinion, November is my favorite month.

November is the anniversary of my birth, a day I celebrate with enthusiasm, because the alternative sucks, and each year of my life I grow wiser and more relaxed. Age is a good thing.

November is the month of Thanksgiving, a time focused on family and gratitude, two of my favorite things. It is a holiday unburdened by candy begging, gifting obligations, kissing requirements, religious guilt or fiery explosions. And I am lucky; my family likes each other.

November in Northern California is relatively warm. I won’t taunt the east-coasters by naming the temperature today. But the air does cool off, we are finally through the Indian summer heat and the crazy first months of school. The kids are learning their letters, and I can teach them about the importance of family and thankfulness. My neighborhood streets are lined with trees turning scarlet (I’m sure the trees were chosen for just that reason). Summer haze and smog are gone and the sun shines a bit too brightly, but that’s what sunglasses are for. Apples are ripe on the trees in my yard; there are tarts and pies to be made. It is a time of shift and change; of settling in and settling down. A time when it’s okay to put on a few pounds in preparation for winter.

The co-opting of the season by frightening images of death and gore are over, leaving me with colorful, ever changing foliage and the harvest of root vegetables. The starkness of winter has not yet set in and it is time to begin the tucking-in process. Gather the firewood; stock the shelves with hearty soup and bread, haul the comforters out of the closet. I look forward to days when one of the few activities available is curling up with a good book, and reading becomes a priority. Darn, it’ll be too cold/dark/wet to exercise, guess I’ll just read. I have not yet entered the crazies of the “holidays.” And as I grow older, I’ve simplified them anyway, so they no longer daunt me. The cold dim days of winter have not yet appeared, and the winter funk has not arrived. It is a time to be savored.