Thursday, December 5, 2013

I don't have any answers.

A few weeks ago I had one of the worst days I'd had in a long time at work. Maybe the worst day. One of my (now former) co-workers had failed to show up, leaving me with by myself with 20 kids that included a group of girls who were being incredibly difficult. They refused to behave and would not settle down. I was frustrated and spent the rest of the evening feeling incredibly simpatico with Mama Fratelli from "The Goonies."

"Kids suck."

Part of the trouble that day was that I had the my kids outside because the gym was not available to us. Being outside meant that we had to put up with any stragglers on campus. There was a child out there who was not a part of my group, but egging on her misbehaving friends who were with me. She was rude and disrespectful and a complete hindrance to my cause.

I've since learned her name and some choice information, and to say that she is anything short of a delinquent nightmare would be a gross understatement. I don't think I could find accurate or appropriate words to describe her. The mere mention of her name caused another adult to utter a disgusted sigh and roll her eyes, and for two of my students who never speak poorly of others to express immediate grievances.

She's decided that I am the enemy because I dared to discipline her friends when they were out of line, and have gotten after her for breaking school rules at the end of the day. She has also decided that because she is not in my program she doesn't need to respect me, and takes every moment possible to express that to be so. Of course, I've seen her act the same way with other adults, so maybe it's worse than I thought.

She is obstinate and flippant and frustrating, and most likely...broken.

And that gets me. Every time.

I absolutely hate disrespect for authority. It bothers me that she continues to act the way she does without correction. And I know exactly how to fix the situation. I know exactly who to speak to for results. I can have a simple conversation with her dance instructor and it would be taken care of.

But I keep stopping myself. Because I just don't know if I should.

I haven't completely figured this girl out. I don't know if my ignoring her tantrums is empowering or frustrating to her. I don't know if she's ever felt remorse or guilt in her life or cares what anyone thinks of her.

I know she's a bully. When I first attempted to learn her name from some of my students they told me that straightaway. I know she thinks it's funny when she misbehaves, and that she's entitled to act however she pleases. That's nothing new from her particular class. I don't know if she's the kind of person who acts out for attention or to make herself feel better. Maybe her parents ignore her. Maybe she's got a tough home life. Who knows?

I'm not excusing her behavior. That doesn't make it okay. Maybe that's harsh, but I don't hand out free passes. I know people from rough backgrounds who never made a fuss a day in their lives. Tough times never stopped them from being decent human beings.

It could very well be that her life is perfect but she's just a mean-spirited little girl who really doesn't care and another reason to worry about the future of our world. I just can't kick the feeling that I need to be praying for her instead of hoping that she'll suddenly be responsive to any sort of discipline. And I don't really think that it's my place to try and fix anything about her, but I've toyed with the idea of talking to one of our counselors about her. She and I have struck up a friendly rapport as of late. She's young and out to change the world - and asking for recommendations for group counseling sessions for girls. Maybe that's been the answer all along.

Of course I don't pretend to have any answers. And I don't pretend to be above this, because as much as I hate to admit it she knows exactly how to push my buttons.

So I'm going to do the only thing you can do when there's nothing you can do and pray about it. For guidance. For some kind of change. For something to get better wherever something needs to get better. And for a softened heart - maybe for both of us.

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