I’ve had a lot of struggles with one girl in my class; I’ll call her Mo. In her best moments, Mo is feisty, quick-witted, and caring. In her less shining moments, she is too loud, too rude, too dramatic. Several times this year Mo has taken things from other students’ desks, and twice she took stickers from my drawers. We’ve had lots and lots of serious conversations around this, and it always seemed like Mo didn’t care much. She repeatedly put the blame for whatever happened somehow on someone else. (“No! Really, that candy fell out of her desk onto my lap! I didn’t even know it was hers since it just fell on me!”)
Today, as our class was heading to art, Mo lingered behind. When she came out of the room, several lollipops literally fell out of her pockets. (That’s what you call 2nd grade tact.) There were two other girls with her, giggling as they joined the line.
I was upset. Those lollipops, meant to be used for special prizes, came from my cabinet. In my mind, it was clear what had happened, and what had happened was no good.
Without saying much, I walked the class up to art and held the three girls back, each of whom I wanted to talk with separately. I began with Mo. We stepped aside to speak privately. I spoke in a very calm voice and said, “This is your chance to be honest with me. Make a good choice.” Even in saying this, I expected a long-winded, twisted story about how everyone in the world had done everything wrong except her.
It took her a moment, but Mo took a deep breath that physically raised her shoulders, looked at me and said, “ok.” With tears in her eyes she proceeded to tell me exactly what had happened, incriminating no one but herself, and in fact, explaining that the other two girls had just watched. She stuck up for them.
I was taken aback. I was so proud of her in that moment. And I told her so. There were so many things she could have said, but she didn’t. She was honest. Really truly honest! I told her that we should both think of next steps and we’d talk again after art.
When I went to pick up the class half an hour later, Mo called me over and said, “Mrs. A, I’ve been thinking about it. I think since I was honest maybe today I shouldn’t get in more trouble, but if I do it again, you should tell my Mama right away because I shouldn’t do it again. That wouldn’t be honest anymore.” Yes. Yes. And yes. I feel like today, Mo and I reached a new level of our relationship.
Life lessons one small-size 2-shoe step at a time.