I am subbing in fifth grade. Fifth graders are usually not vindictive. This is one of the reasons that I love to teach this grade. They are old enough to use the bathroom on their own, but they are still young enough to love you. I have been substitute teaching since 2009, I have been teaching my entire life. Never in all that time have I had anything happen to me like today.
I was teaching the math lesson and it was going well, when I saw two little girls giggling in true little girl fashion...happiness bubbles escaping from pink mouths held tightly under clenched fingers.
"What is so funny? Why are you laughing?"
The little girls seemed to ignore me, but a girl beside them piped up, "Walker has been writing notes and passing them."
"Where is it?'
A child produced the note, folded in quarters, written on a blood pink "Post-It" note. I unfold it carefully, thinking that it would be a love note from Walker and the two giggling girls. I unfolded the tiny paper, reading the words instantly, my breath catching in my throat. The world tilted and righted itself violently.
"SHE NEEDS TO LOOSE WEIGHT"
The words caught on my heart and tore it, a words often do...
They noticed I was fat!! Well one of them anyway...and the two snickering, little girls must agree...because they were... snickering.
I was mortified.
But I am the adult...
Damn! I'M THE ADULT!
I could have meanly snapped at the child..."Yeah, well you are short!" As he is the shortest kid in the fifth grade...
I could have revealed the note to the class. The other kids would have turned on him like rabid dogs for hurting my feelings, even if they agreed with his assessment, they would never admit it.
I looked up at the child. I have known him since Pre-K...
"Have I EVER been mean to you?"
"No Ma'am." he muttters tears brimming his eyes.
"Just go to the Principal."
The little bully left and I quickly assigned 2 math problems, fell into the chair, and let this soak in.
Now it was my turn to feel threatening tears.
I turned, composed myself and looked at my class.
"There are going to be times that people are going to be mean to you for no reason. They will say things to you and about you, just to make themselves feel better about their own shortcomings. Sometimes what they say won't even be true. Other times it will be. The point is it your choice about what to do with what they say. Whether it's true or not. It is your decision to let something someone says to hurt your heart. "
Later in the teacher's lounge I told the horrific story of my embarrassing woe. Another substitute said, "Well Melody you look cute today."
"I know right! At least I thought I did."
Even at 41 years old I am still learning lessons.
Lesson learned today ... I can't allow what anyone else might think of me to change how I feel about myself.
I felt pretty. I am pretty. I DO need to "loose weight." But I don't have to allow a comment made by a mean spirited child to stop me from being me.