19 February 2010

Forgiveness

On Nat's third day of school - his third day of school ever - the crossing supervisor got mad at him.

I thought it was uncalled-for.  He'd been balancing on a low brick ledge as I walked him out of school and had just hopped down when he saw the crossing supervisor looking straight at him.

I assumed she was going to get down on his level and speak sweetly and kindly, explaining that they ask children not to get up there because they might fall and hurt themselves.  No such luck.

"Right!  Now that you're down, I don't ever want to see you up there again!  You're breaking all the safety laws!"

Shocked, we crossed the road in silence.

Third day of school?  "I don't ever want to see you up there again?"  That was a bit much.

Breaking all the what?  All the "safety laws"?  Did she say "laws"?  What was her problem?

It reminded me of Adrian Plass working on being more forgiving in his life, confessing that he was thinking of scratching the words "I forgive you" in the paintwork on the bonnet (hood) of someone's car.  Tempting, to say the least.  I know the crossing supervisor's car.

I restrained the urge to deface her car and went home and thought about the whole incident.  Mulled.  Stewed.  And got so angry I thought I might crucify her with words on my blog.  But no, I decided a long time ago that I was going to use my blog (and my words!) for Good and not for Evil, and I decided to let the matter drop.

I would, however, not speak to her at the crossing.  It was partly petty grudge-holding on my part, it was partly my desire to avoid a lengthy prison term for homicide.

My resolve not to respond to her at the crossing strengthened when she yelled at Anna-Lucia a few times to stop when she was already stopped, and to get off the road while she was getting off the road.  Humph.  As if Anna-Lucia needed instruction to do what she was doing.  As if I needed to be overruled as the authority figure because I was obviously not doing a good enough job of snapping at my child often enough.

One day I observed her as children went home.  "Walk!  Don't Run!" she bellowed unkindly at every single child who crossed.

Other people's children.  Other people's pride and joy.  Howled at by a self-important nagging old shrew high on the power of her little STOP sign and reflective vest.

I just didn't like her.  And then Nat said something important.

We were walking into school one day and had successfully negotiated her crossing without having to make eye contact or respond.  Then as we walked into the school yard, hand in hand, Nat turned his face toward mine and said quietly,

"That lady said she never wanted to see me again."

Fighting down my urge to complain to the Principal and get her removed from her position, I quietly told Nat what she really said, what she really meant, that I thought her words were harsh, and I gave him an example of what I thought she should have said: "Oh no sweetie, we usually tell the kids not to climb up there in case they fall and scrape their leg on the sharp bricks.  Okay?"  Then I left it, only to hear the exact same words from my son as we walked into school the very next day:

"She said she never wanted to see me again."

Mentally calculating how early I could get out on parole for good behaviour if the Crossing Supervisor Homicide became reality, I quietly restated everything I'd said the day before, and again dropped the subject.

A week later, I was still ignoring her "Good Mornings" and her "See you tomorrows."  And one day, as we crossed the road under her watchful eye, Nat turned to face her.

"Good Morning!" he said cheerfully.

I thought to myself, "There's a lesson in forgiveness in there for me." 

I'm working on it, but I'm only half-way there.

14 comments:

Emily Sue said...

Oh wow. Good lesson... one I clearly need, since I know that if your post had gone on to say that she'd responded to his "good morning" with "Walk! Don't run!" I would have come up there and killed her myself. I think she must be related to university exam invigilators.

stefanie said...

Poor Nat! What a great reminder that the words we say (or scream) carry so much meaning. How wonderful that he was able to tell you what he had heard in her words. How wise of you to be gentle in your words even when it was most difficult.

Swift Jan said...

Ditto to what Stefanie said!

Joy said...

Oh goodness! This woman need a different line of work. (maybe as a prison guard) When you are with your own children and supervising them, she's out of line to bark orders at them. You could gently remind them that you are their mother and are seeing to their safety. But then again my Momma Bear comes out pretty easily.
Glad Sweet Nate was working through it and accepting her. Sounds like that is just the way she is with everyone.
♥ Joy
p.s. That was Smith. Have you heard anything yet.

Susie Q said...

Wow. I wouldn't have handled that situation that well. And to be honest, I don't think you should have either. It's more than likely that this person's been rude to many children while she's been at that job. And she shouldn't be allowed to. Because children are so easily influenced.

It shows Nate's character so well, forgiving someone who "never wants to see him again" (in his mind). Such a sweet kid!

If it ever happens again, I think homicide is completely acceptable. Or keying her car. Or merely shouting at her right in the middle of the road, where everybody can see what's happening. Let her taste some of her own medicine.

Can you see that I'm not even nearly as nice as you? :)

xx

Anonymous said...

I still would speak with the Principal. That is inexcusable behaviour!

Nana Tantrum

Anonymous said...

Who knew that being a lollipop lady(as we call them here) was such a position of power!!! sighhhhh.
Godd fro Nate..I wouldn't have handled her so well.
Anne.uk

Anonymous said...

Good for Nate. But maybe that wasn't really a typing error!!
Anne.uk

Anonymous said...

Sighhhh its quite late at night here, still on a Friday!....I meant Nat.......night night all. Have a good weekend.x
Anne.uk

veterankindergartenteacher said...

What a precious little boy you have! As a 34 year veteran kindergarten teacher, I feel that you would be helping other children by speaking to the Principal about her behavior. It sounds like she might be scaring the young children which in turn might make them afraid to come to school. I love working with children and want them to love school.

Crazy Sister said...

Yeah, I'm afraid it seems to be up to you to say a small word or two either to the lady in question or her boss. In love...

veiledturnip said...

Wow! You certainly handled it a lot better than I would have. And to hear Nat say that, days later...it obviously meant something to him. I agree with having words, probably first to her and then if she continues, to the principal. Another child might not have responded so well and try to avoid her by crossing somewhere not so safe.
'forynd'

Long dark hair, blue eyes said...

You are a bad influence on me - I am just back from a short walk around my suburb and I could not shake the idea of writing " I forgive you" on peoples cars parked across the footpath and thus making me walk on the road. Luckily for me I didn't have a pen...or a key :)

Louisa said...

You handled that so well! Good on Nat too - I'm going to have to remember this story!

I don't know if it helps to know but in VIC often the lollipop people are people with some form of intellectual, or other, disability and it's part of a return to work type scheme to help people with disability find employment. For sure, the employment should be suitable and the employee should behave appropriately so I am not excusing the behaviour, just wondering if that might be what's happening here and the aggression might be linked to a whole story (not necessarily due/linked to disability) that we can't see on the surface.

I fear this comment is going to be interpreted by some really terribly but I'm just going to leave it because I think if I try to explain further I am going to be here forever.

Well done!