Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Beast: Part 6

In my mind, this is where it all really began, but as you can clearly see, I was having problems long before this little episode.  Remember when I told you about Suzie, the girl who baby-sat for me who I was told not to communicate with? Well, during that October meeting I was also attacked over another issue; one far more delicate.

It started year one in Hell (before it was Hell). I was teaching all freshmen, and among them was Will. Will was "one of those kids." Kinda ornery, kinda troubled, but mostly misunderstood. He was a good kid, not one to be in the office or anything, but one of those who needed a little more reeling in than the others.

We didn't see eye-to-eye at first. He found joy in tormenting me and making his hour even more difficult than it was. However, as the year went on, he settled down a little, and I laid back a little, and we found a place to see eye-to-eye.

If you don't teach, you might not be able to relate, but just like in life, in class there are certain kids you just bond with. He was one of those. I got to know his mom. She and I teamed up in a way, to encourage him in school and outside of school. When things got crazy for him, I was that adult he knew he could trust and confide in.

We had boundaries, though. Throughout the two years I taught him it wasn't uncommon for him to be in the office for cursing misbehaving in my class. It wasn't often, but I probably wrote him up more than any other teacher. But the more I got to know him, the more I expected of him, and the more I pushed him.

You can guess where this is going, right? In the meeting, The Beast said, "And while we're on the subject, you also need to distance yourself from Will." My eyes darted across the desk at her. She surely wasn't suggesting Will was the same as Suzie.

I didn't see Will outside of school. We didn't text or talk on the phone. I had stayed in touch with him over that Myspace page, but otherwise it was a school relationship.

"What do you mean?" I asked frankly.

"Well, a teacher told me she saw him hug you at the game the other night, and when it's brought to my attention, I assume it's inappropriate. Obviously I don't think there's anything inappropriate going on, or we would be having a VERY different conversation, but at this point I think you just need to let him know the circumstances."

"So, is this JUST for Will, or is this for all male students?"

"Right now we're talking about Suzie and Will."

"Ok, well, I will let you know right now that Max comes in and hugs me EVERY day when he gets to class and says, 'I love you Mrs. Lastname', and Pierre is constantly giving me a the hallway, in class, at Walmart. Do I also need to talk to them?"

"No, don't worry about that," It said. "And honestly, it's hard. If you were, say, my age, and had students of the opposite sex hugging you it would be different. I'm old enough to be their parent. But you're a young, pretty, female teacher and it just doesn't look good," It went on. So it was saying the opposite sex was the problem? I thought we were talking about Suzie. A girl.

I wanted to fire off at It. I wanted to tell It that's a double-standard. I wanted to say It has no right to sit there and say this student can hug you but this one can't. This one can say "I love you," or write on your board, but not these two. I wanted to tell It that maybe It should follow its own advice. Maybe it shouldn't text students of the opposite sex, or take a truckload of them to Hooters for dinner. Just maybe. But I didn't. I worried.

I had already spoken to Suzie and Will, and they were both confused. They felt like they'd done something wrong, something to get me in trouble, or something to get them in trouble. And how could I explain something I didn't even fully understand, all-the-while keeping professionalism in mind and not letting on to the fact that my boss was bullying me? I felt then like I was being set up. I feared It was fabricating a relationship between myself and Will, and worried that any and every interaction would be twisted and manipulated until there was enough "evidence" to cause more destruction.

This is one of those situations where your worst fears come true. My only saving grace in this situation was Will's mom, a handful of student "witnesses," and my decision to be active rather than reactive...

You know there's more to this one ;) But you'll have to wait until Saturday to read it. Come back for the rest of the story.

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  1. I have been reading each post and getting angrier and angrier at the beast!! I can only imagine how you felt! So sorry you had to go through all of this Andrea.

  2. Thank you! It means so much. I've had to hold onto a lot of this for a few years now, and have been unable to tell my story without fear of It continuing to come after me. Each one of these situations has made me angry on many occasions, and I feel like writing each episode helps me let go of that little piece and take my power back!