Friday, November 12, 2010

Sobs and Shock

Poetic justice and a few heavy hearts this morning. I tell ya, middle school is many things, but "boring" isn't one of them.

Before school on campus this morning, a well-loved colleague noticed a boy launching an aerosol can into the air, an impressive use of physics' principles of pressure and force. She strolled over to stop the ersatz rocket antics. "Boys will be boys," she thought.

When she picked up the spent can, though, her heart sank. The can's label had been whited out and on it was scrawled "Jew Repellant."

Imagine the walk to the office. Imagine the kid looking for a loophole, saying he didn't know what "repellant" was. Imagine the kid blaming "South Park" for the idea. Imagine the kid's horror upon learning that my colleague is Jewish. Imagine his tears--real sobs--his apologies, his "I didn't mean to hurt you." Imagine her letting him know she forgives him. Imagine the kid's dread of the call to his parents. Imagine the kid's shock when the police come to the school because yes, this is a reportable hate crime.

You know what I have trouble imagining? What to say to him when he returns to school.


  1. Certainly not the way you expect Fridays to go.

    There's no going back, and only moving forward. If he is truly sorry and didn't understand his actions (somewhat doubtful) then he can learn to next time understand what a word means before using it as a joke (I've actually made the mistake of unfortunate word choice in Elementary school I didn't even understand, what can I say ignorance happens to the goodie two shoes too). Also I hope he finds some creative way to apologize, other than words, to your colleague to show he means it sincerely.

    One thing is, its better to make such mistakes while young and still have time to change or make amends rather than when its too late.

    Here's hoping all works out for the best and that the kid can steer himself on a better path and wake up to reality.

  2. A big "amen" to your point about this happening while he is young. That's one of the reasons I choose to teach this age group, as a matter of fact. He has good parents, and that, too, goes a long way. I also believe it was no accident that my colleague was the one who discovered the situation--there are only two Jewish staff members on campus.

    Thank you so much for the feedback. I really like this kid and that added to my heart-heaviness. You have given me a point of entry when he returns--I'll ask him how he intends to make amends and offer some suggestions.