Yesterday I was at a particular MPS school all day teaching about healthy relationships and abuse prevention. These kids are tough to teach already, given their life circumstances and emotional/behavioral diagnoses. But yesterday was also the full moon and it added a little WILD into the mix.
The way these kids behaved was so out of bounds I couldn't even get mad. I just stood there and laughed. In one of the groups, kids were picking up metal folding chairs and pretending that they were going to hit each other with them. One boy slammed a girl up against the wall by the throat as she maintained a grin on her face and kneed him in the groin. Immediately he ran from the room and returned, not five minutes later suddenly wearing a big fuzzy hat and a pair of sunglasses.
Security was called, but I tell you, even with three guards in the room---big dudes in security vests--not one iota of the behavior even changed. They just challenged the security officers. The groin knee-er turned around and shouted "You keep your hands off me boy!" to a man twice her age and thrice her size and then turned to me and said, "Go ahead, Red. We're listening."
I am not kidding you. This all really happened.
As one of the boys read aloud my Teen Dating Violence Quiz in a theatrical game-show host voice at the top of his lungs and a teacher threatened to take them all back to class, I persisted. And we managed to get through it. And amid the chaos and insanity, they did discuss the topic at hand with surprising insight and thought.
At the end of the third session, one of the teachers said something about the possible poor parenting of these students and one of the kids became irate that his parents would be insulted so. So I stole the opportunity and as I spoke, the wildness calmed and I saw them actually listen to me. What I said was this:
"You guys probably want to know why I would stay and teach you when you're acting like this. Why I would even bother. Why should I care, right? You got so angry about your parent being insulted... Well guess what. I'm somebody's mom too. Every teacher in this room that you are disrespecting, every peer in this room that you're threatening...They're somebody's child. Somebody's mom. Somebody's family. The reason I'm staying in here is because I know that someone loves each one of you as much as I love my own kids. And this is important information. I would want my kids to hear it. And I want you to hear it. Just remember that, when you go back out into these hallways. Every person in this school is loved by someone. Every person is someone's child. Or someone's mom. Or someone's dad or grandpa or uncle or aunt or whatever. Everyone deserves your respect."
They listened. Listened. Even after the bell rang for their lunch, they stayed seated until I said, "Have a good spring break. See you in two weeks." I kind of couldn't believe it.
But it's true isn't it? I think it's a good thing for all of us to remember. Everyone is somebody's someone.