March 26, 2015

SOL 26: Being Different

Every day at school, I see students who are obviously uncomfortable in their bodies. I know this is common for middle school (and let's face it... adults), but it absolutely breaks my heart every time.

If you're familiar with this age group, you know how preoccupied they are with their appearance. I get it. Their bodies are changing, yet they are not quite done. Things don't exactly fit the way they have in the past, and nothing feels right.

I started to make a list here of the things I've heard them complain about. Height, weight, hair, eyebrows, skin... but the list is honestly endless.

More than anything else, my heart aches for the girls (boys too, but mostly this applies to girls) who squeeze their bodies into too-tight clothes because it's THAT important to be wearing the same labels as their peers. Who cares if the shirt is stretched beyond recognition, as long as it reads Hollister across her chest, right?

Who among us doesn't understand the pain of wedging ourselves into a too-tight pair of jeans? Do you know how many students I've had to send to the nurse for new clothes after they've bent over too far and split their pants? Or because they've been embarrassed when a peer points out the hole in the inner thigh? Chub rub is a real thing!

And the truth is that it DOES matter. The easiest way to become a target is to be different from your peers.

I remember this well.

When I was in 8th grade (where I was the new girl in school), there were three girls on the cheerleading squad who were my same size. The problem was that there were only two skirts left. Our coach ordered a new skirt, but of course, it didn't look the same as the others, which were probably decades old.

I'm not sure how I was selected, but I ended up being the girl with the different skirt.

I tried SO HARD to pretend like it didn't bother me, but the truth is, I was mortified. I was convinced that every spectator was focused on my "wrong" skirt. I was certain they'd assume my uniform faux pas was my own fault rather than a lack of supply. Even though no one ever said a single word to me about it, I made all sorts of assumptions about what they were thinking.

There were tears. Oh, there were tears. Often. When I knew no one was looking.

So I know my students are shedding tears too. And I wish, more than anything, that I could say something to give them the confidence that things will get better. I wish I could get them to see themselves the way that I see them.

But I'm also very aware that my saying anything will only make them more self-conscious. Because it's confirmation that someone else notices what they don't want anyone to see.

So I say nothing. And I cry on the inside for them. And for me.

March 25, 2015

SOL 25: When School Fights Happen

I broke up a fight at school today.

And this time, unlike last time, I didn't get hurt in the process.


When a verbal altercation escalated to the point where one student shoved the other, my protective instincts took over.

I guess this is how you know I really do love my students. I say over and over again that I will never step into the middle of another fight, and yet...

I guess I take my role as "school mama" pretty seriously!

As soon as her hands made contact, I lunged for her. I wrapped my arms around her, as if I were hugging her with her arms at her sides. Then, I basically picked her up like a chess piece to remove her from the situation.

This student is EASILY six inches taller than me!

I mean... I can only imagine how hilarious this must have been for the 200 kids watching this interaction.

Please let me know if you see any videos go viral!

Thankfully, the altercation was quick and the other student didn't retaliate (for which I give him a ton of credit because this he is a child who struggles to make good choices much of the time), which made it pretty easy to intervene.

This is the FOURTH fight I've seen in the past three weeks in my building. There was actually another one at dismissal today that I didn't see. And just so you don't think this is normal, I'm fairly certain these are the only ones we've had all year.

The natives are restless!

Two more days until spring break, my friends!

March 24, 2015

SOL 24: Why I Avoid Heels

Do you ever have those days where you catch a glimpse of your reflection in a mirror and think, "Damn... I look good right now!"? I'll admit these days happen few and far between for me, but this story takes place on one such day.

It was date night. I was feeling good in my new, sexy-yet-casual top, trouser-style, cuffed jeans and pointed-toe, killer stiletto heels. (I didn't realize how long ago this took place until I re-read that line. Trouser jeans? I don't think I've worn anything BUT skinny jeans in years!) After a delicious dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, my then-boyfriend drove us to the mall where we planned to see a movie. 

The theater at this particular mall is pretty much the only thriving business. Most of the stores have closed, so it's a pretty safe bet that anyone here is going to see a movie. This is important for my story because you have to understand that there was a sizable group lingering around the ticket counter. Things are always more interesting when there are witnesses.

As we started walking toward the theater, I was feeling pretty good about myself. I was looking into the lines ahead, half trying to decipher which line would be quickest and half hoping at least someone would look my direction and acknowledge how cute I was looking in that moment.

Somehow, as I strutted down my little "runway," the heel of my stiletto got caught in the cuff of my jeans. Before I even knew what was happening, I was sprawled out on the cold tile like a drunken bum outside a bar (and no... I had not been drinking).

There was no way to recover gracefully from this fall. I wanted to shrivel up into a ball and DIE! Thankfully, the bruise on my ego was far worse than the one on my knee.

Thankfully, I haven't seen any video evidence circulate on the Internet! Though, I would totally laugh at myself if I saw one!
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