I Didn’t Forget – day 13 & 14

Its funny how things do work out.  No this isn’t a moment where I suddenly admit I think it is all truth but one where I admit (again) that some of those guys who wrote the Bible were pretty smart and really understood the human condition.

Let’s start with my second bible study.  New group with new people.  Scary.  I ended up telling my story in the beginning- not because I decided to do that but because it was the right moment.  Kevin (who was one of the hosts) was asking me some “getting to know you” questions and asked specifically if I had just moved here.  Obviously I would have found them sooner if I had lived here for a while.  I said I was in a special situation.

OH MY GOSH “SPECIAL SITUATION”????   Seriously, what was I thinking.  I immediately realized that made me sound worse, like a mass murderer or something.  So I spilled the beans so to speak.  Everyone was great.  No one moved over so they didn’t have to sit next to the non-believer.  No one gasped.  Well no one gasped loud enough for me to hear it over my own fast beating heart.  Everything was fine and we started.  All that worry over nothing.

There was a part of the evening where there was an analogy about people coming to house-sit and you leave them a book detailing when the garbage needs to go out, when the pets should be fed, how often to water the lawn and the importance of doing these things while the owner is gone.  The people who have said they will take care of the house read the information, they study it, they highlight it, they even meet with their friends to talk about it.  But when the home owners come back the garbage is still sitting next to the house, the pets, plants and grass are all dead.  All that reading and studying meant nothing because they didn’t do anything about it.  They just forgot to do it.

My take on it is people are like this all the time with things in their life not just with their approach to Jesus.  People have things that are important to them but there are priorities and things get pushed aside, forgotten or even though they really feel it should be important it is not important enough for them to do anything.  I was faced with such a situation yesterday.

Yesterday I was substituting for the Librarian at a local elementary school.  Nothing much was going on at first because there was state testing in the morning but I had a few classes come in, then had lunch and then yard duty for 30 minutes.  Yard Duty is simple.  You stand around and make sure no one is doing anything to hurt themselves.

Or in the case of yesterday, you choke back your own tears at the completely disgusting treatment of a 4th grade boy.

*  *  *  *

Its a chilly day but the sun is shining.  I wish I had known I was going to have yard duty because I would have worn a jacket; my sweater isn’t too bad as long as I stand in the sun and the wind doesn’t blow.  The other teacher (let’s call him Teacher M) is over by the basketball hoops while I am close to the building where the kids are jumping rope.  All is fine.  Then Teacher M is yelling at a boy who is walking towards the building.  I am not sure what is going on.  Teacher M is saying things like “You want to be that way? Fine we can just do this again tomorrow.”  The boy is a thin blond headed boy with a black hoodie on.  He has light skin and later I will notice the freckles splatters across his nose and cheeks.  He’s obviously being defiant.  I think at one point the boy might have flipped the teacher off but his hands were in his sleeves so you can’t be sure.  It was just the look on his face that said that that particular hand gesture would go well with the rest of his body language.  The boy stands obediently by the wall. He is obviously angry but keeps it to himself.  Teacher M shares his attention with the kids on the playground near him and the boy standing against the wall near me.

There is a rubber bin with basketballs and jump ropes in it next to the boy.  He picks one up and is untangling it.  Teacher M yells at him to put it down; he doesn’t get to do anything but stand there.  So the boy stands.   A few minutes later the boy is messing with the jump ropes again.  I walk up to him to talk.  I explain to him that I don’t have a problem with him and he doesn’t have a problem with me, right?  He agrees. I talk to him to tell him to put the jump ripe down and to just not do anything else to get in more trouble.  I didn’t get very far when the Gym Coach is walking up telling every one to not put the jump ropes in the bin with the basketballs.  He directs the boy to take all the jump ropes out of the bin and that is exactly what the boy does.  What he was told.  I walk away.

Cue rage and fury from Teacher M.  He yells from across the playground that the boy needs to put the jump ropes down.  That he isn’t allowed to be doing anything.  The Gym Coach tells Teacher M that he was the one who asked him but Teacher M doesn’t care and says that.  I want to clarify that Teacher M just told another teacher that he didn’t care what they had to say. So it is not just that Teacher M disregards a defiant little boy he also disregards what other professionals at his place of employment think.

The little boy is obviously upset.  How was he supposed to chose which adult to listen to?  Should he have told the Gym Teacher no? How can a child know what to do here?  This is a lose/lose situation for this little boy.  He is obviously frustrated by the whole situation and punches the metal door that leads into the cafeteria.

Teacher M sees this and is yelling at the boy that he’s not very smart because that is a metal door and he isn’t hurting the door by punching it.  Teacher M walks over to the boy who is against the wall and gets into his face and laid into him like  a drill sergeant.  Teacher M was basically telling the boy that he wasn’t important and didn’t matter.  He was yelling in his face and the boy had tears streaming down his cheeks.  Teacher M never even thought to even look to see if the kid’s hand was ok but had no problem going on and on in that boys face for about 5 minutes and in front of all the other kids who were lined up right there to go in for lunch.  This is when I was choking my own tears back.  I kept looking at the boy hoping he would look at me and see that I cared for him even though I didn’t know him.

This was a blatant abuse of power by this teacher.  He was on a complete power trip.  An adult who was in a position of trust was treating this child like he was garbage and do you know what I did?


I am ashamed that I didn’t speak up right then and there.  That would have really shown that boy that maybe a teacher can be a nice person.  Maybe it would have been the eventual difference between that little boy liking school and hating it.  Maybe it would have made a difference in his life somehow.  But I didn’t do anything.  I felt like it wasn’t my place.  I am just a substitute; I am just a person that comes in and is only slightly more qualified then a babysitter, right?

I went on about the day as there were still 2.5 hours left.  I knew that boy wouldn’t be in the library later because I didn’t have any more fourth grade classes coming in.  If I have ever really felt like there was a time I truly prayed this was it.  Any time there is something to do with children being mistreated I hope I am wrong.  In my head, right there in a public school, I prayed that I be wrong and that boy would have any reason at all to come into the library, to walk by the computer lab, into the office, or even just bump into me at the end of the day.  If there was a God he would show me through that boy showing up in my presence again.  I felt like if I could just tell him that even though he still needed to do what the adults told him to do that I understood how frustrated and how unfair the situation at recess had been.

He never came in or walked by.  I didn’t see that boy again and I probably never will.

At the end of my day I went to my car and I sat there.  Pondering if I should just go home.  What had happened was still weighing on me heavily as it is still weighing on me almost 30 hours later.  I thought about the analogy of the home sitters and how they just forgot to act despite knowing what the right thing to do was.  I got myself out of my car and walked back into the school and asked to speak to the principal.  Of course she was busy.  I called back today and she wasn’t there so I left a message on her voicemail.  Hopefully I will get a call back tomorrow or the next week.  If not I plan to take my concerns to the district office.

I don’t think my actions are extreme or an over-reaction.  I was choking back tears seeing this boy being belittled and cut down; anyone who knows me knows this is not something I do easily.

For now the story with the boy is at a stand-still.  I don’t know how it will turn out.  I don’t think I ever will know the complete story because I am “just a substitute.”   At least I can know I did something.  Instead of just talking about how we should be treating children I actually did something even though I almost forgot.


9 thoughts on “I Didn’t Forget – day 13 & 14

  1. Wow Dy-Anne,
    what a horrible situation for that little guy. What kid needs to be berated by an adult like that. Every part of that treatment has me boiling inside. I am so glad that you left a message for the principal. A good principal won’t tolerate that kind of behavior and will let you know with actions that they will handle it. Even a “trouble maker” child has reasons that they behave the way they do and they aren’t usually because a kid is a ‘trouble maker’ at heart!

    Last year there was a sub in my son’s 5th grade class who told the whole class that they were not to give him any of their ‘fries’ because *he was too fat already*. 😯 What was she THINKING? Not only is that kid taller and bigger than everyone else (though not obese) he also has Asperbergs, so it’s not like he isn’t already socially awkward. 😦 Anyway, he WAS crushed. My son told me, I told the teacher and principal. I never heard what happened but because I know that principal I know that he intended to deal directly with it. And I am 100% sure that sub will NEVER be in the same class as that boy again.

  2. I think too that you could say you experienced some of “God’s own heart” in your compassion for the child. You’ve read where Jesus tells the disciples “let the little children come unto me,” right? I think you experienced the Father-Heart of God when you felt his emotions and wanted him to know that that was ‘unjust’, and that not everyone acts that way, and you wanted so badly to see him again so that you could reach out to him.

    I wonder if God did answer your prayer – but with a ‘no’ because he had a different lesson for you to learn from the situation? Regardless, I pray that the young man is surrounded by people who do love and understand him. I pray that people will reach out to him and that he won’t be labeled, that he will be supported and encouraged. At the very least, in sharing the story, you’ve shared with a bunch of Christians who are now praying for that little guy. That’s no small thing, right?

  3. Success is never guaranteed in anything. But we must try. “Get up, stand up – don’t give up the fight!” – Bob Marley

  4. I was out of town for several days and took some time to catch up on your blog. Thanks for sharing so much of yourself. I am sorry for how this child was treated at school.

  5. I’m with Joni. It’s cliche, but they say that God always answers our prayers; sometimes with a “yes”, sometimes with a “no”, sometimes with a “hold on a min”. As Christians we need to remember that He knows what he’s doing and that his plan is far better than our own:

    As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
    ~Isaiah 55:9 (NIV)

    That’s a tough pill to swallow, because we want to trust that we are capable of knowing good plans from bad plans – right from wrong – good sense from bad sense etc. We want to trust in our own understanding of the world we live in. It makes us feel safe, in control, in charge of our own destinies. But, as Christians, we are told that we cannot:

    5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
    6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
    ~Proverbs 3(NIV)

    The truth is that we really don’t want all of our prayers to be answered the way we think we want them to be – remember the cool guy with the motorcycle and that fuzzy little mustache in high school, whose love for you, you promised God would be the last thing for which you ever asked? He still lives in his Mom’s basement! If God had said yes to all of my prayers, I still would have about a thousand pet monkeys chucking poop at me from prayers said when I was 11.

    Still were told to pray without ceasing:

    16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
    ~1 Thessalonians 5 (NIV)

    DY-ANNE, prayer doesn’t have to be fancy. It doesn’t have to be formal. You don’t have to fall to your knees, or do it in church or have to use eloquent speech. You can do it in the shower if you want, or while driving, or in the check-out line at the Piggly-Wiggly. It can be as simple as “Please help me to make the right choice here” or “Wow! Thank you for the beauty of that Angel Oak!”.

    When we pray, we pray that God’s will be done – whatever that may be. It’s cool to ask for stuff, for yourself, for others,- he knows our hearts long before we bow our heads to tell him about them. We don’t pray for God, we pray for ourselves. If you’re praying for a new car, because you want to make your coworkers or neighbors jealous, well you’re going to see that in prayer. If you’re praying for a new car, because you need reliable transportation to take your kid for cancer treatments, you’re going to see that in prayer too. There’s no BS! He knows so their isn’t either any way of fooling him – or ourselves.

    I think it’s amazing that you prayed about this, and brought it to our attention so that we may pray as well! There are many professing Christians who would not have thought to do so. My suggestion to you, if you should really like to experiment experiencing the Christian condition, is that at some point along your journey, you try a day of “praying without ceasing”. Stay with me! I know that sounds about as appealing to you as trying a day of reading the phone book. Again, I don’t mean a day on your knees, or a day in church. Just a normal daily routine during which you remember to remain open to God’s presence. Bring as much as you can to him. Tell him you are nervous. Tell him this feels stupid. Tell him that you’re having trouble believing in him. Tell him what you want for lunch. He knows and he never grows tired of hearing our voices being raised up to him.

    Tie a string around you wrist to remind you. Every time through out the day that you see that string (but if you remember don’t limit it to that) open your mind to his presence. There has been times in my own life, tough times, where I’ve actually taken a Sharpy and written on the back of one of my hands – “Pray First!” Express you gratitude, your fear, your doubt, your anger, and you love – just be wide open.

    Your doing amazing with this and I think we’re all impressed by your dedication.

  6. Dy-Anne,

    First of all, I’d like to say that you’re a good writer. You made us see, hear and feel what went on that day. My goodness, I’m so sorry that that little boy had to go through such an ordeal. Teacher M would seem to need to be in another profession. But I’m so glad that you followed up on it.

    I’m also glad that you prayed about it. “Abandoned barns” and others made some really good points about prayer. And, truly, you (we) don’t know – maybe some of the prayers that you prayed about the boy are coming to pass outside of your vision and knowledge. Maybe he’s coming to grips with the situation in a better way now and/or maybe things in the future will be done to make everything better. At any rate, I commend you for those prayers and for your subsequent efforts.

    I’d also like to expand on one point that “Abandoned Barns” made – concerning whether prayers are “for” us or God. I do agree with what he said overall, but would like to also say that I also think that sometimes prayers *can* be “for” God. I have heard of the “ACTS of prayer,” and the first letter stands for “adoration.” As “Abandoned Barns” said, God delights in hearing our voices being raised up to him, and although our adoration can be of benefit to us, it also seems to be “for” God as well. Perhaps this is semantics; I don’t know; I’m not an expert on the subject. By the way, the other letters stand for “confession,” “thanksgiving” and “supplication.”

    I have prayed for this child whom you described, and I know that others have as well. Again, thank you for sharing these many thoughts and experiences with us.

  7. Pingback: Turning to God for Help | A Temporary Christian

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