a modern day fable

Selena* is one of my most, ahem, challenging students. Since Day 1 she's been pushing my buttons. Generally, it's these students who end up being my favorites by the end of the year... mostly because they require me to pray and pray and PRAY that God will open my eyes to their more enjoyable qualities so I can love them as much as the rest.

Not working yet for this one.

Oh no, she's a handful.

Interesting, too, because no matter how many times I reprimand her, she still gives me the hugest hug out of anyone at the end of the day. What? Where does that come from??

Anyways, one of most notable traits is the incessant need to use the bathroom. We're talking every 10 minutes here, folks. She is the reason my class takes 3, sometimes 4 bathroom breaks in one day. I schedule these in because I'd rather migrate as one large group to the bathroom than have a steady stream of students interrupting my lessons with requests to leave followed by the ever-present POUNDING on the portable door when they return.

Her mother visited the school earlier this year to complain to the principal that her daughter no longer wanted to go to school because I wasn't letting her go to the bathroom. Thus requiring a written note and a phone call home to explain my bathroom policies and reassure her that yes, of course, if Selena has an emergency she may use the restroom. Really?

So today, we're just getting into the flow of our math lesson, when Selena interrupts me in her usual whining voice. "Maestraaaa (teacherrrrr)! I need to use the bathroom." I calmly remind her that it is not an appropriate time and continue with my teaching. A minute later: "Maestraaaaaaaa, can I go to the bathroom now?" (note: she never raises her hand, but rather shouts her thoughts/requests/demands out at will... one reason why I keep her at the front of the classroom in all seating charts). I remind her again that it is not time to use the bathroom, and warn her that if she interrupts me again she will owe me recess.

30 seconds later, "Maestraaaa, can I go to the bathroom NOW?" I've admittedly lost my cool at this point, whip around and tell her, "No, and now you owe me your rece-"


I swear to God someone popped her bladder like a water balloon.

Yes, you are reading this correctly. One of my third grade students wet her pants in front of the whole class. She looked up at me from her seat with tears in her eyes, as if to say "I told you so..."

While they may not always be respectful to me, or any other teacher who comes into the room for that matter, I thank God that my students are respectful to one another. Not one child laughed, pointed, or even stared. The students at Selena's table group quietly pushed their chairs back without saying a word. They handled the situation with such grace, I was astounded.

I could have learned from them. Instead, I cried. I cried right there with Selena. As I paged the office, I pulled her into my arms and cried. I'm so sorry.

I felt like such a failure as a teacher. I let her down. I made her feel unsafe in my classroom. Traumatized, even.

It's a modern day, "Boy Who Cried Wolf" story... only I think I'm the one who needed the lesson.

Luckily, Selena is an admirably resilient child. She came back to the classroom with clean clothes and a fresh smile. And for the rest of the day it was as if nothing happened at all. Maybe she does have some redeeming qualities afterall...

Needless to say, it was quite the humbling day. For both of us. Please pray for little Selena.

Love you.

*Name has been changed to protect student's identity

P.S. I know you probably already know this, but I do love each and every one of my students and I believe with my whole heart that they all have redeeming qualities. I just pretend they don't for dramatic effect while blogging.


I'll be praying for both of you :)
"M" said…
I have been praying for you Ms. Brown. I know that even if you don't realize it you ARE making a difference in these kiddos lives! Can't wait to see you next week!

PS...we may be doing GLAD training together! (Happy Dance)
Vanessa's Dad said…
You are a great teacher. That's why the kids love Ms. Brown, even the challenging ones... especially the challenging ones.

The Potty Adventure could have some benefits for everyone.

Loved your sharing. I pray for you daily.

Amanda said…
Blondie, I'm crying too! What a sweet, sad and heartwarming story of honesty. How wonderful that you can learn as much from these kids as they can learn from you. And I can learn from this story as well. You make such a difference in their lives. You really do. Don't let Satan get the foothold that you are failure. You are human. You are not perfect. You are loved. You are a child of God. And you have been given grace and mercy. Just like you give your students.
Kendra said…
Oh....what a beautiful story Natalie.

I am glad you didn't handle it with "grace". Maybe your tears were exactly what all the kids needed to see. Everyone is human.