At the start of the meeting yesterday, Jane was huddled up against my side on the small couch, not really looking at her teacher or her principal, who were sitting in the chairs across from us.
Fifteen minutes later, she’d straightened up and was comfortable enough to speak clearly, if hesitantly, about the behavior and comments of some of her classmates—and to name not only the bullies, but the other children who were targets.
The principal said that she was proud of Jane for looking out for her friends.
That brought out Jane’s first smile.
By the end of the meeting, she had strategies. She knew the difference between tattling and asking for help and she knew that she was worth helping.
She has specific steps to take when someone makes her feel uncomfortable or hurt or angry. One of the first is to speak up for herself: “I feel blank when you blank. I would like you to please blank.”
The principal told her that she could try it out on her little sister: “I feel angry when you touch my stuff. I would like you to please ask first.”
I told her that with all that practice, she would be an expert by morning. Jane rolled her eyes and giggled.
And she understands now that she’s allowed to take the final step is to tell the teacher. If that teacher doesn’t understand or can’t help right away—because teachers get busy, too—she can ask again when things are calmer or find another teacher or the principal
“So no more skipping gym, okay?” said the principal. “ I’ll talk to the PE teacher myself.”
Jane blew out a breath and nodded. Ten minutes later, she left for the last few minutes of science class—after giving us all hugs.
And this morning, she put on her nice winter dress, thick stockings, nice shoes, and put up her hair. She looked strong, confident, and beautiful.
“I’m going to have a good day,” she said.
I’ll bet you she does.
I know I will.