On Friday, we celebrated the end of summer writing camp by letting the children read their work in an auditorium in front of their families. Kids don't like to sit still and listen to each other for three hours. They get antsy. I had already informed my class we were going to win the "fast and efficient competition." I lined them up alphabetically and had them taking the stage just as the person before them was finishing. We wound around and into the lobby. Perfection. Even the naughty demon was into behaving when I used the word "win."
So as we stood in the lobby watching the eighth graders clearly lose, I noticed a big person picking on my hopelessly nerdy home-schooled student. The oaf was trying to force him to eat leaves or some other mean thing and my student was curling into a ball, trying to implode. Furiously, I moved forward to intervene...but was headed off by the demon.
She stepped in between them, grabbed the leaves from the bigger kid and told him to eat them his own damn self. Then she told the oaf, in a string of eloquant and colorful words, to leave her friends alone and get the hell out of there. She put her arm around the home-schooled student and led him back into line. "Don't you worry about him," she said, ushering him along so as not to slow the pace.
I pulled her aside and thanked her profusely for standing up for her classmates. I am so filled with joy that at the end of the class I am able to like her enormously. I am not left with the horrible images of her disrupting class again and again. I found myself posing with her for a photograph, thanking her mother for the pleasure of her company, and saw my mouth forming the words "I hope I see you next summer."
It's so interesting to me how differently I feel about her now that I see her true loyalties. I think I really do hope I see her next summer now that I see how hard she will work defending our team. If only someone had been mean to that kid earlier in the class I wouldn't have had to eat so much fruit trying to figure her out.