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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

It Just Slipped Out...

Pin It I stood between the two boys on the playground. It was obvious that they were still upset with each other, and that’s when it slipped out.

I didn’t mean for it to…it just did.

“Would Jesus do that?” I couldn’t believe it, the second the words left my mouth something inside of my brain seemed to register what I’d just said, and the mistake I’d just made.

Goodbye separation of church and state.

Living in a society where religion is freely talked about by students on a daily basis is still no excuse for an educator to do so. However, it wasn’t as if I’d planned on saying it, right? In fact, you could almost say that I’d been tricked into it, really. As I’d listened to the two boys complain about each other, and the reasons why each of them had done what they’d done, the conversation kept coming back to: “Well, during Scouts at the church…” and “At the church he said ________ when we were at Scouts…”

There was so much talk about church going on that I really couldn’t help saying it, right?

However, it didn’t matter; what was said was said, and no amount of wishing at this point was going to take it back. In my mind I was secretly thinking, Holy cow, now that I just said that, what do I do? Really, I couldn’t foresee anything else which could be done at this point other that to simply run with it.

So I did.

“Well, Joey?” I asked again. “If Jesus were here would he have been making fun of Mark when he couldn’t throw the ball? Could you see him yelling, ‘Hey, Mark! You’re a loser! You can’t do anything right!’?”

Joey looked at me with his wide eyes. “Well, no. Jesus wouldn’t do that.”

I then turned to Mark. “And Mark,” I said slowly. “If Jesus were here, would he push people around if they said something mean to Him and start hitting them?”

I waited for an answer, but already knew what it would be. Really, how could you argue with that? Who can argue with Jesus? That’s right…nobody. Nobody can mess with the Big J!

Mark’s eyes also fell to the ground, as if wishing it would swallow him up. “No, Jesus wouldn’t do that to anybody, Mr. Z.”

“Well,” I said, feeling like I was actually teaching a Sunday School lesson. “If Jesus wouldn’t do those things then why do you two do it to each other?”

Both boys looked at me, each other, and then back at the ground in complete silence.

“What should I do?” I asked, eying them both. “It would be so easy for me to just give you both an action slip, and then be done with it. However, I don’t know if that would actually solve the problem. If I did that, you two would still just go on secretly hating each other, wouldn’t you?”

The boys stared at me blankly, as if into an oncoming headlights of a Mack Truck.

“So you tell me what we should do. Do you want to work it out, or should I just give you each an action slip?”

More silence.

“Well,” I said with a belabored breath. “Then it looks like I get to choose. I guess it’s action slips for both of you.”

Mark staggered back with a look of devastation on his face, but Joey looked at me and spoke in a tentative voice, “But Mr. Z, Jesus wouldn’t do that either.”


Admittedly, I made up the last three lines, but only because it was a lot funnier than what really happened. For it came to pass that the boys decided that working it out would be a much better solution, and then being “sort of” friends after that. However, they did promise not to be mean to each other anymore…this was fine with me because I really didn’t want to be dealing with this problem in the first place—after all, neither of them were even my students.

We ended the peace talks with promises to be kinder toward each other. It was at this point that I gave the old “you-guys-can-do-better” pep-talk. We finished it all off with a group hug, and everyone went back to their classes feeling a little more loved and understood.

After all, that’s what Jesus would have done.


Richard & Natalie said...

It may have not been appropriate for a public school, but it sure was funny! Plus, I'm sure it's a lesson neither will ever forget. Too bad teachers can't pull the WWJD card more often and maybe kids wouldn't be so horribly mean. BTW, loved your "Thought of the Month".

PMC said...

how funny. the WWJD card Nat? I have never used that line even at home....but I am certain it will happen, everything else has. I have even taken to answering the why question with, "Because I Said!" Can anyone even believe that???

Lars said...

I cringed for you, even though it was funny. Last week I had so many foot in mouth moments similar to this, sans the WWJD. The best approach I have found is owning one's oops and rolling with it. At least everyone walked away learning a lesson.

Corine said...

I am such a detective! ha ha! I totaly knew how that was going to end! :D LOL - That was really cute! :D

BTY; doesn't our money say, "In God We Trust?" Whether church and state are seperated or not, It is my opinion that God should never be removed!

Mamma has spoken said...

Hehehe, reminds me of a time when I wished some students a Merry Christmas and they looked at me funny because teachers aren't aloud to say this in our school system....

theothermother said...

Did you really just call Jesus - Big J? I'd be more worried about that. ;)

Gerb said...

Group hugs are always a sure-fire way to dissolve an awkward situation. Great story!

Julie said...

Love it!

Mom not Mum said...

That is awesome. When I was substitute teaching I once told a group of highschool students to please use their reverent voices. I guess I had been spending too much with my kids at church. One of the boys was LDS and just about died laughing while the other boys were trying to figure out what I said. One piped up and said "oh you mean our INSIDE voice?" Oh, yes...your inside voice. (Which was equally funny coming from the mouth of a 17 year old!)

The Mind of a Mom said...

I think it was more then appropriate. Public school or catholic school it was a great lesson for these boys and was not used out of context at all. Sometimes we need to gear our talks so that they "get it". It really makes me sad that we can't use Jesus' name without fear of offending.
I love the story and the fact the boys got it!
Good on you Mr. Z

Teachinfourth said...

Natalie - Thanks for reading the TOTM at the other website. I thought about posting it here, but decided against it.

When it comes to the WWJD card, there's been several times I've wanted to pull it, but this was the only time it's ever slipped out.

Misty - Whatever works for you, I say go with it.

Lars - In the end it's all about the love, right? Going with the flow was most definitely the best course of action in this situation.

Corine - I'm just glad it had a 'happy ending' in the end.

Bonnie - Really? They aren't quite as strict with the merriment of holiday well-wishing here.

T.O.M - Of course he'd be capitalized; one couldn't call him 'the little j' now could they?

Jewels - Glad someone smiled (okay, just to be honest, I was smiling when I wrote it all out...and when I reread it over again, too).

M.N.M - Isn't it funny that in certain circles there is a whole language that, if you aren't a part of, you have absolutely no idea of what is being said?

M.O.A.M - After something like this one always waits for the 'backlash.' However, it's been a while and nothing has come....well, other than a great story.

A Lark said...

Next time, just hurry and say, "I mean, WWAD?" 'Cause she would do what Jesus would do, anyway. (Remember Cali?)

Trevor said...

Kids are pretty clever huh. I love how he told you Jesus wouldn't punish him! Classic!

Mamma has spoken said...

Hey Jason, it all started over 15 years ago when our super. was Jewish and found it offensive. So we now refer to the break at that time as winter break (not Christmas) and IF we have any seasonal decorations up there can't be any religious references. Though this is the second year with this super., wonder if things will become more relaxed.....

novidiac said...

Crazy.. if you'd used the Lord's name in vain there likely wouldn't have been as much concern of being chastised for crossing the line.. Love that you realized that the boys in the situation aren't aware of the church and state concerns and that there was a more important lesson to be taught in that moment.

Amy said...

I love that conversation! It made me smile...even being sick and all!

Teachinfourth said...

Janelle - I would, but unfortunately, they wouldn't know what I was talking about.

Trevor - There have been several moments, to be sure!

Bonnie - I certainly hope that things get a little more relaxed in your district; however, it does show you the power and influence that one individual can have, doesn't it?

Nova - In any other place, it probably wouldn't have worked, you know?

Amy - Sorry to hear you're sick; hope all is well and good soon.

Kathy V said...

If it makes you feel any better, I taught the story of the Good Samaritan in a classroom at that same school... Probably about 7 years ago, so I'm sure the statute of limitations has expired by now.

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