Wednesday, August 17, 2011

School Days-Let's All Pray

Robert starts his first day of Senior year today.  It's hard to tell, but I do think he is excited about going back to school!  Not only will he get to see his friends but he also chose to take a pretty challenging course load this year which includes some Advanced Placement classes where he can earn some college credits.  He's a Senior, top of the heap, at the head of the pecking order in high school hierarchy.  I am so incredibly proud of him and his friends!

Senior year is really the only year of high school that I remember with some fondness.  That was the year when the social cliques formed in Freshmen and Sophomore years started to crumble and you started talking with other students in your class who were not part of your "inner circle".  That's when you started talking about what happens next and you started to field the question "what are you going to do after high school?"  Yup, Senior year was a lot of fun because suddenly everything that defined your world up to that point didn't matter quite so much.  It was the year of expanding horizons and lots of hope for the future mixed with a whole lot of questions!

There is one moment though, that I think really summed up Senior year for me, the moment when I decided that I didn't care what anyone else thought and chose to do the right thing.  I had actually forgotten about this until years later when my mother had a chance encounter with one of the young ladies directly impacted by a split second decision in a very crowded lunchroom during the beginning of the school year.

At my high school there was no such thing as grade level lunchtimes.  There were two separate lunch periods but it was a mixed bag of students from Freshmen to Seniors.  Every "group" had their "official" table spaces and there was an unwritten rule that you did not tread upon someone else's table turf.  Jocks at one table, computer geeks at another, musically inclined in their spot-the typical clique breakdown.  I happened to be involved with the drama club so that meant sitting with the music/art/drama group, which I had been a part of for my entire time in high school.  We had some new additions to drama club that year-some incoming freshmen so I knew some of the younger kids from the drama group but didn't know them well.  Two young freshmen ladies also had the same lunch period as we well established seniors and they hadn't quite found their group yet.  It was still early in the year but the tables had already filled up and they needed to find a place to sit for lunch!  They tried sitting at a couple of tables but were stopped by those already sitting there.  It got worse.  Some Freshman boys decided that they were mock worthy and started harassing them as they stood there with their trays in the middle of the lunchroom looking for a place to sit.  The boys blood sport started attracting attention.  I will never forget the look on Karen's face in particular, not just a dazed look but rather a look of fear and embarrassment-being on the verge of tears.  I knew what she was feeling, because I had felt that way too many times over my high school years! 

At the time I wasn't thinking about compassion and mercy or doing the right thing.  I was mad!  Mad at those punk little Freshman boys for treating these girls this way!  Just exactly who did they think they were?  They were not big boys on campus, they hadn't earned that right yet!  No, they were thoughtless juvenile little boys who needed to be knocked down a notch!  These were my girls and no punk Freshman was going to get away with treating them like that!  I wasn't the only one at my table who had this thought, my friends noticed as well!  The decision was unanimous, the girls would come sit with us at the Senior table.  I'm not sure which one of us called to them and invited them over but from that point on, they had a table to sit at for lunch every day!  And certain Freshman boys stopped using them for their sporting targets!  We made our point-they were under our protection and we would not tolerate anyone messing with them. 

Like I said, after high school I had forgotten all about that terrible moment.  It wasn't until years later that I realized just how important that decision was on that day.  My mother went to have her hair done by a new hair stylist who she hadn't been to before.  When she came home with her beautiful new look she started to tell me about the conversation she had with the young lady who had done her hair.  Turned out that the young lady was Karen and she told my mother the story of that day in the lunchroom.  She remembered me specifically!   And she remembered the horrible feeling of standing in the middle of the lunch room not knowing what to do and suddenly the relief of being invited to sit at the Senior table.  I may have forgotten but she never did!  Sometimes you'll never know the impact that you'll have on another person's life but understand this, little things do count and little things do matter even more than you can possibly imagine!

So today I pray for all students starting school and I pray for the teachers as well.  High school in particular can be such an awkward time and there is enough misery in the process of "becoming" without someone adding to it!  I hope that if my son sees a situation where someone is being made fun of or bullied that he will have the courage to intervene.  I hope that every child will choose to do the right thing! 

And Seniors, have a little fun along the way! 

Blessings upon blessings to you all today!

All my love,

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