The first year I worked at Hell The Beast was not my boss. Well, it kind of was, but it wasn't the principal. It was a pretty harmonious year, and I felt I learned a lot and grew immensely with the help of my boss at that time.
I met and became acquainted with a freshman girl we'll call Suzie. Suzie was very involved in sports, was a good student, and was trustworthy. She took immediately to my daughter, Chloe, when she saw her at after-school activities, and Chloe loved her back.
I began using Suzie as a baby-sitter when my mom was unavailable, or when it was short notice. By the time summer came, she was a regular in my house. The next year, when The Beast came to power, Suzie wasn't in my English class. She started going with me to the youth function I helped supervise, sitting with us at church, and was still baby-sitting as needed. Even after I left the district, Chloe and I still had her over for dinner once a week and for a short time we were our own little girl family on Tuesday nights :) She became more than just a former student. She was a family friend.
If you knew me in high school, you could compare our relationship to that of mine and a familiar family I baby-sat for regularly until they moved. I was older than her, but not so old I seemed like a mother figure. I gave her advice and listened when she had concerns. We didn't talk on the phone or have lunch dates, but she was a regular figure in our lives.
I remember when I was in high school having good relationships with my teachers, especially those who went to church with me. It was a special kind of bond, having fellow Christians in a sea of ungodliness.
The Beast, however, didn't like it. Granted The Beast had school-age kids and no-doubt had teenagers in and out of its home on a regular basis. But that was different.
I was called to the office one day, and by that time I knew to dread those trips.
"I have some concerns," it admitted.
"OK?" I waited for the 1-2-punch.
"Suzie was asked in English class to write about a friend she trusted more than anyone. She wrote about you," it expressed. I smiled. I was honored.
"Oh." I said. Utterly confused as to how I was getting in trouble for this.
"Given she is a teenager, I think it's highly inappropriate for her "best friend" to be a teacher," it went on. I shook my head. It wasn't like Suzie didn't have friends. She had her same-age friends that she went out with, played ball with, and slept-over with. It wasn't like I was her only friend in the entire world.
"She's a very close friend of our family," I explained. "She goes to church with us, she baby-sits my daughter. She is a dear friend, but I don't think she meant I was her only friend..." I trailed off, knowing there was no arguing with The Beast.
"Well, you need to distance yourself from her. It's just not appropriate," it went on. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do. She'd pop in my room before school now and then, or give me a hug in the hallway when I saw her, but it was nothing different than any other kid might do.
"What do you want me to do?" I asked it, completely irked that it was now messing with my personal life. "She's not in my class, so I'm not favoring her or anything, and I hardly see her at school."
"Talk to her." It demanded. There was more to this conversation, but it's a post in itself, so we'll deal with it another time.
I went to Suzie and explained what happened. She agreed to distance herself from me at school, and not to mention me in any way in any teacher's class. She realized what I was up against. The Beast wasn't exactly fond of Suzie to begin with. I promised her she could still baby-sit, and I would still come to her games. If it didn't involve school, The Beast had no control...or so I thought.
Several months later, toward the end of the year, Suzie came by my room when I was gone and wrote, "I love you Mrs. Lastname" on my board. It just-so-happened The Beast came by to "observe" me (It was in my room constantly looking for anything to pick at) and saw the note. It didn't address it with me verbally, but made note of it in my observation form, showing I had "ignored" something it had talked to me about.
As I walked down the hall at the end of the day, I looked in at all the boards. Over half the boards had a "love" note of some kind from a student. Most of the students were girls, and some of the teachers were even male. Yet I was singled out and reprimanded for what? For not erasing it? For not banishing the student from my room forever? I don't know. But it was one of many complications, and one of the first times I felt truly oppressed and bullied. It's an unsettling feeling to have someone else trying to control every single aspect of your life.
Did you miss part one? Read it HERE.