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A Young Boy/Man's Rage, and A Knife He Wanted to Be a Gun - Part III A Young Boy/Man's Rage, and A Knife He Wanted to Be a Gun - Part III
by Leah Sellers
2012-12-23 11:56:03
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There was a knock at the door. All of us flinched. Knock, knock. Who's there? Would have a different meaning for all of us now. Lingering Memory vestiges of T.'s acts of Terrorism.
 
It was a police woman and the precinct's police psychologist. We spent the rest of the day sharing and processing the day's events with them.

 
It was not until the end of the day, while visiting a friend and telling them of the day's events, that I discovered that I had had my plaid shirt ripped and my stomach sliced by T. I cleaned myself up and bandaged my belly. My friend suggested that we take a picture of my shirt and stomach as evidence. After returning home, I took a shower, rebandaged my stomach and went straight to bed. I had difficulty sleeping. I did not know what I was going to do with the information that T. had hurt me physically with his knife.
 
The following day, the boys, Ms. J. and Ms. P. and jumped into painting our chosen symbolic murals upon the Inner Sanctum's walls. I was interrupted all day with calls from parents, school officials and the police. But I worked hard to keep the atmosphere in the room positive and upbeat.
 
It took almost all day to complete the murals, but after we were done, we each stood up and told the empowering stories of the symbols we had used to reclaim our Space. We all 'oohed and aahed' over one another's artistic skills and symbol choices.
 
Afterwards, the boys expressed an interest in having another Speaking Circle in the time we had left. They wanted to process other feelings they had gotten in touch with over the evening. Ms. J and Ms. P. weren't interested in listening or participating. So, I allowed the two exhausted ladies to take an elongated break, with the promise that they would be there to help me get the boys to their separate buses at the end of the school day.
 
As the boys, once again, related and recalled the horrible events of the previous day with one another, they revealed that they were all very angry with T. Claiming that they would never be his friend again. But by the end of Speaking Circle, after most of the boys had related their adventures both in and outside of the classroom the previous day, they grudgingly admitted that they were open to trying to forgive T. Or at least going through the motions until they could actually feel it.
 
C. was one of the determined UnForgivers. He swore that he would never forgive T. That he did not deserve to be Forgiven.
 
Every attitude a Consequence of Terrorism.
 
I had explained to them that Forgiveness was a Discipline - a Process. That it was not an easy Discipline or Process, and that it happened differently for everyone. But that another part of Forgiveness was how it would make them feel about themselves.
 
When I said that, M., one of my seventh graders, whose adopted parents were helping his personal development through church attendance, and church activities, started to tear up.
 
"I don't know about the rest of you guys, but I gotta tell Ms. S. the whole Truth. The whole Truth, guys. And you know what I'm talkin' about." M.'s big brown eyes seriously and meaningfully swept over the group.
 
K. looked immediately uncomfortable and nervous. They all did.
 
Was I about to get to the Heart of the Dark Mystery I had sensed for weeks?
 
M. plowed ahead. "Ms. S., first I need to tell you that I'm sorry that I never said anything to you. But T. said that if I did that he would come to my house one night, and kill my family in their sleep, and burn our house down with all of us in it."
 
M. paused and sighed. "When I told him I'd call the cops. He told me to go ahead. That if they stuck him in jail, that he knew some fellas who would do it for him. That they'd kill all of us and burn us."
 
I was shocked, but I could not afford to reveal any of my feelings. I kept my face still and my expression open. "I'm sorry that T. threatened and scared you like that M. That had to be a horrible experience." I reached out and put my hand comfortingly upon his slumped shoulder.
 
"Go ahead, M. Whatever you have to say to me it won't change how I feel about you. I promise." I said softly.
 
"I don't know Ms. S. This is pretty bad. It's hard to talk about." M. admitted.
 
"Go ahead, M. I'm listening." I prodded.
 
"T. came over to all of our houses this last month. Or at least I think talked to all of us about it." He shrugged his shoulders and looked at the other boys.
 
No one said a word. They were leaving it all to M.
 
M. squirmed in his seat, as if making himself more comfortable. "Anyway, he tried to get all of us to go into doin' what he did with him - or for him - or whatever. That's why none of us said anything when he started spoutin' off about Osama whoever. We all knew that he meant it. That he was tellin' everyone what he was doin'. He thought that we were all stupid enough to go along with him. But I like you Ms. S." M.'s voice broke and he began to cry. "Yeah, you make me mad sometimes when you make me do things I don't want to do, or you take away points from me. But I still basically like you. I could never hurt you." M. began sobbing.
 
I walked over to his desk and hugged him tightly. "What was he wanting y'all to do?" I looked at every boy in the room.
 
G. spoke up. "I don't know about everybody else, but he told me that I was his Chosen One. That he was choosing me to help him kill everybody in the room. Then him and me were supposed to set fire to the building and run into the neighborhood across the street. We were supposed to hide there until the police came and everything was in a uproar. Then him and me were supposed to slip into the side door at the main building over here," G. pointed in the direction of the door he and T. had discussed. "And then he was gonna kill as many people as he could until the police came. He even said that he was gonna kill as many cops as he could before they took him down." G. sighed heavily and stared at me uncertainly with his beautiful sky blue eyes.
 
I paused, masking my real feelings, I asked calmly, "He visited all of you?"
 
C. burst in, "He didn't visit me. He never did. All of you were in on it. You all wanted me dead. Me and Ms. S., Ms. J. and Ms. P. You were going to kill all of us!"
 
The Speaking Circle erupted.
 
"That's not so. I never agreed to do anything. I just didn't tell Ms. S. about it when I should have," M. exclaimed.
 
All of the boys, except K., were exclaiming the same things. Upset that they were being called collaborators and possible killers.
 
K. stayed unusually quiet, peering around the Speaking Circle with nervous, angry eyes.
 
"I understand why none of you said anything to me. I understand that you were afraid for your families. For your homes. For yourselves. I understand why you were afraid to say anything. I really do." I said over the furor.
 
The boys quieted.
 
"It's alright. I Forgive you. I Forgive all of you. I might have done the same thing if I had been in your place. I still love all of you boys." I proclaimed.
 
"You're such a Tree Hugger, Ms. S.," K. broke in. "You love everyone and everything. You can't even kill a snake. I saw you that day when that girl from the other school ran up with that snake wrapped around her arm. That 'ole snake had already bitten her hand a couple 'a times. When you saw what was happening you walked right up to her and knew just what to do. All of her teachers from the other school were standin' around with their fingers up their noses. But you walked right up and said, "The snake is not poisonous." Then you found out the girl's name and you asked her if she had named the snake. She said, 'No, not yet.' So, you asked if you call him Brother Snake, 'cause you knew she was religious and all. And she said, 'Yes'. K. slapped his hand on top of his desk in amusement.
 
"That girl was retarded. She was not going to give up that snake. But you told us to find an empty feed sack in the barn, real quick. While you kept talkin' to her. When we got back with the feed sack, you opened it up and told the girl that 'ole Brother Snake., ha, ha. That's right that's what you called him." G. laughed.
 
All of the boys were joining in on the joke about Ms. S. It was easing the tension caused by their Guilt and that was important.
 
"You grabbed that 'ole snake at the back of the head, and talked that retarded girl into helping you unwrap it from her arm and putting it into the bag. Then you took that girl by the hand and led her to edge of the woods, out at the Ranch‘s fence line, and you let that snake go. You and that retarded girl were callin' out, "Good-bye, Brother Snake! God Bless you and help you find a good home!" G. guffawed.
 
We all shared a good laugh at my expense. The previous heaviness had lifted. That was the important thing. I love humor. Humor often makes the more difficult things in Life palatable.
 
The school bell rang. Ms. P. and Ms. J and I saw the boys to each of their buses. I did not tell my assistants what the boys had relayed to me. They should have been interested enough to be there for the Boys, and I had a lot of things to process and pray about.
 
Before I could leave that day, the phone rang. Ms. St. the school principal wanted to speak with me first thing in the morning.
 
"Yes Ma'am. I'll be there," I said wonderingly. I was so ready for things to settle down and get back to normal. Whatever normal was.
 
The next morning, I was greeted by Ms. St. and the school psychologist. They did not want me speaking to the papers or television channels about what had happened and wanted to know if I was the one who had contacted them.
 
I was shocked. No I had not contacted them. It had not even occurred to me. I was too involved with getting things on an even keel for the boys.
 
Then they informed me that someone had called them and told them about my injury. They wanted to know when I was going to tell the police about it.
 
My friend who had noticed the rip in my shirt, and taken the photos of my sliced stomach as evidence for the police, in case I decided to tell the police about it or press charges against T. for having harmed me, had betrayed my confidence.
 
I told them that I was still considering what to do about it. That T. was in enough trouble as it was. That C.'s parents had already pressed charges against T.
 
Ms. St. and the psychologist advised me to contact the police as soon as possible and let them know what had happened to me.
 
Then I was informed that another Behavioral teacher from one of the other campuses was coming over to help out in my classroom for awhile.
 
I told them that that was not necessary. That I was fully capable of getting the class back up to speed.
 
The psychologist disagreed with me and told me that it had already been arranged. That they were even thinking of changing my class into one of the boot camp programs. They had not made up their minds yet, but would let me know more before the end of the school year. There was a little less than a month and a half of the school year left.
 
I looked at Ms. S. She knew that I would refuse to teach within one of the boot camp programs. That I believed that Children changed when they were loved, strongly disciplined, and allowed to work within hands-on learning projects.
 
I could tell that she was uncomfortable with what was being said. So, I decided that I would speak with her privately a little later.
 
I was beginning to decipher the Handwriting on the Wall. The school district was afraid of being sued.
 
I was going to made a scapegoat in order to protect the reputation and rating of the school and the school district. They saw me as a liability. If I were out of sight, I would be out of mind. I was expendable.
 
I was sick at Heart. I felt betrayed and abandoned by the administration. Within the district, my only support system was my students and their parents. The school district was afraid. They were on the run. They were the greyhounds and I had become their prized rabbit. They were panicked and I had just become the sacrificial lamb.
 
I felt burnt to a crisp. A few days later, I handed in my resignation to Ms. St. and told her that the behavioral teacher they were sending into my room could go ahead and take over. She was doing that anyway. That I saw and understood the tactics and direction the school district was taking. I also asked that she use me as a Content Mastery and substitute teacher, until the end of school. I admitted to her that I felt betrayed and abandoned by the school district.
 
Ms. St. helped to protect me throughout the rest of the school year, by placing me in Content Mastery and other classes that needed a substitute teacher.
 
I phoned all of my students parents, and guardians, and let them know what I had decided to do and why. I also let them know that the school district had given me strict instructions to 'stay away from all of my students'. The school district wanted me to have absolutely no contact with my students, because the new teacher needed to be able to bond with them. According to them, my contact with the Boys would only be an interference.
 
When school ended, I spent the summer with each of my students and their families, horseback riding, bowling, viewing movies, hiking, walking and talking, in order to help their Understanding of what had happened to all of us, and Healing from the various wounds each of us had suffered as a result of those events.
 
So, in the Spirit of cooperation, I asked permission from the parents of my students to do things with them over the summer. That it was very important to me that the Boys know that I was not abandoning them. I explained, that if everyone was in agreement, and only if they wanted to, that we could all process whatever else we needed to regarding the Nightmare T. had left us with, and finally put it behind us in positive and meaningful ways.
 
So, when school ended, I spent the Summer with each of my students, and their families, horseback riding, bowling, viewing appropriate movies, visiting museums, hiking, walking and talking, in order to help our collective and individual Undertanding of what had happened to, and so deeply affected, all of us. All of us spent the Summer struggling toward Healing from the various Woundings each of us had suffered as a result of T.'s Terroristic Imaginings and Actions.
 
I had informed the police psychologist about T.'s ruining my shirt and slicing my tummy, and had handed in my shirt and the photos as evidence. But I also made it clear that I would not bring charges against T. or testify against him. I saw my role as a Healer and Mentor to my students. I would not participate in hurting them unnecessarily. He was already in enough trouble. She seemed to understand.
 
I never told anyone about all of the boys having been unwitting parties to what had happened that Terrible Day.
 
K., in private, had finally confessed to me that T. had gotten the Knife from him. That they had stolen it from one of K.'s neighborhood friends. But he swore up and down that he had never really thought that T. would go through with it. That his fear of what T. might do had been the reason that he had joined the Reading group that morning, instead of staying in the Arts and Science Room with T. He told me that he had been T.'s real Chosen One. That T. and he were supposed to have been the only ones left alive. That T. had just told all of the others that so that they would help T. with his plan before he got rid of all of them.
 
I don't think that K. ever really understood the ugly underlying implications of what he had confessed to me. How disturbingly damning it was on many levels.
 
Besides, in the end, K. had done the right thing in refusing to join T., and staying with the Group of Boys in Speaking Circle that morning. And eventually helping to get them all out of the room when Ms. P. had frozen in panic.
 
G. had insisted on staying in the Arts and Science Room with T. because he had wanted to protect all of us. He was planning on 'taking T. down and beating him senseless'. He wanted to be our Hero.
 
I never told anyone, including the parents of my students about all of their individual involvements in T.'s Terroristic plans either. I felt it better that the boys and I work through all of those murky and dangerous waters ourselves in Loving and Playful ways. I felt that far more could be learned and gained from our processing through what had happened to each of us amongst ourselves. I didn't feel that any of them needed to be punished legally. Each of them had become T.'s Victim. I wanted them to be Knowledgeable and Self-Aware Survivors. The boys needed to be brought beyond suffering to a point of Forgiveness. Forgiveness for T. and Forgiveness for Ourselves.
 
I will always consider that Summer to be the Summer of Grace.
 
Enough time has passed so that all of these Secrets can't reach out to hurt anyone anymore. So, the Secrets are now being Illuminated by the Light of Enlightenment.
 
As for the school district, I have no idea what happened to it. In my book, what comes around goes around. They have some uncomfortable karma to diffuse, and work through.
 
T., unfortunately, blew up at the judge in court. He tried to jump over his table in order to 'take a run at' the judge. One of his cousin's simultaneously tried the same trick over the courtroom's railing, but was stopped by a group of policemen as well. As a result of that, and the serious charges brought against him by C.'s parents and the school system, T. was sentenced to eight years in Juvenile Prison.
 
T.'s Knife and Terroristic Intentions had slashed into all of our Lives that Day.
 
I often wonder about how T. is doing. Every night that young man is my prayers and best wishes. So, are the rest of 'my Boys'.
 
I learned a lot from my experiences with T. and my other students that year. Lessons bitter-sweet transformed into sustaining milk and honey by God's Grace, and the miracles of Human Forgiveness.

******************************************************************************

Part I - Part II - Part III 


    
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Thanos2012-12-23 18:45:25
Amazing story Leah!!! Thank you


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