Flashback to the Feelings of Middle School…

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Big WinI’ve spoken with many women and the general consensus is that middle school was awful.  For most of us, the worst time of school.  Personally, it was a time of awkwardness.

I had many friends and have great memories of times of middle school and high school.  Yet, in the quiet moments… with the voice that only I and God could hear, I was not confident, felt alone, and was not sure where I fit in.

I was always overweight, pale, and freckled.  As far as middle school goes, that wasn’t a great combo.  I was made fun of by boys quite frequently, but learned to deal with it through humor.  I was already funny, but honed the skill through trials at a young age.

I remember going to a community school dance.  My friends told me that a certain boy wanted to dance with me.  I was a little uncertain, but they insisted he did.  I went over to him, assumed the teenage awkward dance position, and listened to him say the only reason he was dancing with me was because they made him.  To this day, I can not hear Madonna’s song “Crazy For You” without feeling the humiliation of that moment.  The last formal dance that I went to was the 8th grade banquet, and I went by myself.  I never went to a homecoming dance or a prom because I never had a date and was lacking in self-esteem to go it alone.

I say all of this because I’m sure I wasn’t the only one that had hard times.  Though, at the time, I felt like it.  Times change, we grow.  Life happens and we settle into ourselves.  I’m pretty satisfied with where I am now.  God has done amazing things to and through me.  I am confident in who I am… at least, I thought I was.

Last Saturday, my oldest son had a baseball game against his previous team.  The one that let him go for reasons no one can figure out.  I was so nervous about that game.  His current team is new and still working things out; his old team is usually a dominant force.  There are still kids and parents on that team, whom I love dearly.

Part of me wanted to walk to “the other side” and hug the necks of the families that I miss dearly.  The other part still feeling the rejection and sting from three people on that side.  For some reason, even though it wasn’t me that didn’t make the team, I felt those same middle school feelings all over again.  I didn’t want the eyes of three people to meet mine.  I didn’t want to feel like I wasn’t good enough… like my son wasn’t good enough…

The game ended, my son’s team WON!  I couldn’t believe it, I mean I could because it was true, but… you know what I mean.  Relief set in… my anxiousness subsided.  I wanted to go hug those necks now, but I didn’t want them to feel like I was rubbing it in.  I decided it didn’t matter, but by then they were all packed up and heading to their cars.

I was sad that I missed speaking to them. I knew there was no easy way to explain my feelings of unworthiness.  Mostly, I was ashamed of myself for allowing three people, whose feelings about me don’t matter, come between me and the many others that I love dearly.  So, if those of you that I am speaking of are reading this… please know that I love you, I miss you, and I’m sorry that my feelings of inadequacy kept me from letting you know that.

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.” Hebrews 10:35

 

Letter to a Teacher…

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Letter WritingI wrote the letter below to a teacher.  It hasn’t officially made it to paper.  I prayed before writing it and will continue to pray before it is delivered… if it is delivered.  I’m trying to make my point, without anger or judgment.  Please note that I never talk badly about a teacher in front of my boys.  And, to them, I always side with the teacher.  Feedback?  Teacher friends, what are your thoughts?

Here is the letter…

Dear XX. XXXXXX,

I want to apologize again for XXXX disrupting your class when he left early today.  While XXXX had a different view of the events, I clarified that if you felt he was being disruptive, that was all that mattered.

When you spoke with me on the phone, you seemed to question the fact that I was checking XXXX out early.  Please know that XXXX has not missed one single day of school since Kindergarten and I try my best not to check him out early.  If I know that I will be checking him out, I try to give all teachers advanced notice so preparations can be made.  Today was a little different.  After testing (FCAT) for two weeks, my boys have been stressed.  I’m sure you have been, too.  I got word this morning that my husband would be able to call this afternoon.  He’s been deployed for two months and the boys haven’t had a chance to talk to him.  I thought it would be a nice treat for them to talk to their dad, so I checked them out early.  Today being Friday after FCAT, I thought they wouldn’t miss too much.

My husband called shortly after we left the school.  The ten minutes that XXXX spent talking to his dad, he was mostly being counseled about not being disruptive in class or disrespectful to his teacher.  I’m sure it was a fun conversation for both of them.  But, we don’t tolerate such behavior knowingly.

I want you to know that I sincerely think the world of teachers.  It is a profession that I could never do well.  I realize that XXXX is a thorn in your side and that you don’t like him very much.  That point is made abundantly clear to me every time I speak to you.  There is always a look of distaste in your eye and a bitter tone in your voice when we speak.  I’m sorry.  I totally understand that he is not an “easy” child.  I get it.  I just wish that you would spend a little less time trying to get your point across because again, I got it.  Sadly, I’m sure he does, too.

I know that this is a very stressful time to be a teacher… not only the past two weeks, but in general.  Due to local, State, and Federal laws you have little leeway in your own classroom.  The new standards make it hard to teach children that struggle academically because, from what I understand, you are punished for unsatisfactory FCAT scores.  This is truly ridiculous and I commend you for being a good teacher.  Again, I couldn’t do it.

I know that XXXX struggles academically and that he’s not the best behaved child, but sometimes teachers have no idea what a child is facing outside of school.  Maybe… just maybe, if he felt like less of a failure academically and like less of a pain socially, he might surprise you.  In my experience, we all rise to our expectations.  An exceptional teacher is able to teach an unruly child while never letting on her true feelings about him.  An exceptional teacher is able to make a child that is struggling feel loved.  An exceptional teacher is able to encourage and motivate a child to perform far beyond what others thought possible.

Maybe XXXX will be a totally average student and turn in to an average adult.  Maybe someone will see that special spark in him, believe in him, and help him to believe in himself.  I have no idea what he will become.  I do know that right now he feels poorly about himself in school and that makes me sad.

With Much Respect,

“The hearts of wise people guide their mouths.  Their words make people want to learn more.  Pleasant works are like honey.  They are sweet to the spirit and bring healing to the body.” Proverbs 16:23-24

Removing the Plank…

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hypocrite 2Last night, I got a little upset about something that was said to my boys.  To give you a short back story, another child made a comment of something that was said about one (then both) of my boys at their home.  The comment wasn’t nice.

My oldest was upset for a while last night.  Two of his Awana teachers even noticed and asked me what was wrong.  At the time, I had no idea.  By the time we were headed home last night, he was over it.  Both boys told me what was said, in passing, but seemed to have already processed their feelings and put it behind them.  I love them for that!

Anyway, I wasn’t over my feelings.  Once I got them in bed, my mind reeled over the situation.  Tears came… mostly out of anger.  I posted on Facebook generically about the comments.  I mean, how dare they say that about my boys?!  Who do they think they are?!

Then… time went by… I got quiet… I prayed… God whispered in my ear… “Who do you think you are?” It came crashing back… a comment that I had made about one of the boys’ classmates a few weeks ago.  Evidently, this girl said something negative about my boys.  They were telling me about it in the car and I just blurted out… “well, she’s fat!” My youngest laughed so hard that he started crying.  We all had a good laugh about it.  But, it wasn’t funny.  It was horrible.  I know I said that to counteract what they had heard, but it still wasn’t right.

What made me any different from the other parent talking about my boys?  Was I to be upset merely because she was referring to my kids.  Is it ok for me, but not anyone else? The short answer… no.

While I sat on my bed last night trying to peel the last shavings of plank out of my eye, I realized that I had done the very thing I was so upset about to someone else.  That is a hard realization… and much harder to admit.  A few lessons I hope I can retain…

1. Don’t offer my opinion on how I feel about others if it is negative.

2. Remember that kids talk.  What you think might be between your family will usually walk out the door and be repeated.

3. Don’t be so quick to judge others bad behavior.  You might be making the same mistakes.

I’m sure there are plenty other lessons to be learned from this situation, but for now I’m going to work on these. Are there any planks in your eyes?  They are painful to recognize, but we are much better off after removing them.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5