I recently had the pleasure of after-school detention duty. The one and only other time I had this duty this school year, I had one student. Piece of cake. This time, however, I had at least ten kids, mostly fifth graders. It was SCARY.
Their teachers have my sympathy. Their teachers now have my prayers. Prepubescent arrogant, aggravating, angels.
First, I took the hard nose approach. Sit down! Be quiet! Put your heads down! This did not really faze them.
Then I tried the bleeding heart approach. So, what did you do to get detention?
One student in particular, felt it necessary to enlighten me on how annoying other people can be, especially teachers. She said something along the lines of “if someone bothers me, I’m going to put them in the hospital.”
I asked her what she thought would happen to her if she put someone in the hospital. She said she would go to jail. The other kids thought this was hilarious.
So, I asked them.
Do you guys know anyone who’s in jail or been in jail?
The time was over all too quickly. I would have loved to have been able to talk to them some more. Find out (as I believe) that all their bravado hides some sadness. Sadness that their world is not as it should be. Sadness that something or someone is missing from their world. Sad that there’s few adults in their lives for them to respect and trust.
Each student in our classrooms represent a family. In some cases, the families are emotionally and psychologically healthy (not perfect however!). In others, families are broken, dysfunctional, abusive. Children come to us needy, angry, and sad. They struggle under the weight of their burdens and long to take them out on their poor, unsuspecting teachers.
It’s overwhelming. I can’t bear it. Nor is it possible for me to, (as I once heard one teacher say) “tell them to leave their personal problems at the door.” I refuse to become that callous.
But I believe that God can bear it, and when we pray for our students’ home lives, we are helping bear that burden, and bring hope and light into despair and darkness.
Pray for abuse to end. Pray for healing from drug addiction. Pray for new healthy ways of relating to one another be forged in families.
Pray for students’ home lives.