Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Reasons Why I Teach # 83: Hope My Words Saved A Life Today
Before the break, it was "Tolerance Week" in the schools. Our school put on a magnificent show with different student and staff performances. I recited one of my poems on how words can hurt. I've gotten a lot of positive feedback from students and staff members about how powerful my piece was. (Found out after the fact that during the show there was a fight on the opposite side of the stage - can you believe that?!)
Fast forward to today. You all know that I've been on my natural quest for the past 7 months now. Well, today I saw this young lady with a very cute short afro, but the two times I tried to call her over in the hallway to tell her that I liked it and that it was cute, she was bustling by too fast to class and I was teaching. Then right as I'm heating up my lunch one of the APs comes into my office and asks for my help and that it's an emergency. She tells me there's a young lady threatening to kill herself and that they have the ambulance on the way. But because of my words during "Tolerance Day" she was hoping that I would take a moment to talk to this young lady about how I feel about tolerance and bullying.
On the way up to the office she shows me the girl's suicide note that stated, "...just when I do something different they tease me about looking like a fat boy with earrings...I just want to die and join my mother in heaven".
When I walk into the office my heart breaks into a million little pieces as here is that same young lady that I wanted to compliment earlier today. I'm a firm believer that God works in mysterious ways. How is it that I had never before seen this girl, and then I see her twice and am being called to help her??
I told her about what I thought when I saw her, I shared my own hair story (and coincidently I had my hair in Bantu Knots today) and how students and staff looked at me the first time I did it. I told her how beautiful she was and that people are going to talk about you no matter what you do, but that you have to learn to no worry about what they're saying and continue to do what's right for you. I got her to open up to the fact that as a 15 year old freshman, she had not one friend in school yet, that she has been in and out of hospitals for depression, how badly she misses her biological mother that passed away only a few years ago and that she just wanted to go to heaven to be with her so she could feel loved again.
That was all I was able to do as the EMS came quickly to bring her to the hospital for evaluation and emergency counseling. I just can't help thinking "What If"?? What if I had been able to compliment her this morning? Did I let an opportunity to give a sad little girl some hope today slip through my fingers? Maybe she's just going to think I said those things because "I had to" and that I wasn't being genuine?
Kids can be so cruel. No one knows what any one person is dealing with in their life, and even with a school that constantly addresses it, the students still don't get how painful their words can be. I pray for these kids. I'm praying for this little girl. I'm praying for my own children.
Tolerance. Is it just a catch phrase?