Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Mean Girl

     This week in my second grade ELA class, we're reading Each Kindness. It's the story of two girls-Chloe and Maya. Maya is the new girl whose clothes are old and the wrong season. The teacher seats Maya by Chloe. Maya smiles but Chloe doesn't smile. Instead she stares out the window. As the story progresses, the other girls laugh at Maya and refuse to play with her. One day Maya is absent and the teacher uses a stone and bowl of water to teach her students about the ripple effect of kindness. "Each kindness no matter how small makes the world a little better place." In that moment Chloe is saddened and embarrassed by how she's treated Maya. She vows to smile at Maya and apologize. Maya is absent many days before the teachers announces her family had to move away. The story ends with Chloe reflecting on how she never got to show Maya kindness.

     As we read the story, my heart was burdened with the people I had the opportunity to show kindness to and didn't. The people who smiled at me and I ignored and looked the other way. How many times have I let my silence scream my disapproval or hurt in the name of passive aggression? Some of these I can go back and apologize to, but some I won't ever have the chance to try to right. After all, "I'm sorry" doesn't always fix it.

     The shame I felt when I admitted that I've been the mean girl who ignored and withheld smiles and said things that weren't necessarily mean to others who heard them, but I knew they would hurt the other person's feelings was overwhelming. And my the best excuse-they did it to me was even more flimsy and pathetic when spoken aloud to my students. 

    There's a mean girl in all of us and when we let her out, we can't undo all the damage she does. 

     And sometimes we don't get a second chance to show kindness. 

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