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No shame in it…

December 16, 2013

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thinking on a strange little story…

When I was in 4th grade my teacher  would soccer kick the kids in the rear.  I say “soccer kick” because albeit  I am not athletic, my entire family is… and I believe when you kick a soccer ball you kick it with the inside of your foot…yes? no? Either way that is how Mr. Kraller would dish out his unhappiness.  I was just a kid and I wasn’t getting kicked so I kept my mouth shut…until I didn’t.

With chin in hand and my elbow resting on my desk… I really just watched him…I saw him grab this kid Mike by the scruff and pick him out of the seat… and give him three swift kicks to the rear.  Mike yelped and sat down and went back to attempting to read aloud.  Mike wasn’t a smart kid… and he was one of those kids who smelled of syrup when he came to school…on top of that he wasn’t good at reading and when forced to read aloud he sounded like a person  talking in the bed of a farm truck  as they drove over a bumpy gravel road. Now on top of all that.. here he was shamed, tears in his eyes and with his very feeble attempt at reading plaguing us all.  Most kids didn’t look up..but I was taking it all in.  I remember knowing this wasn’t right.  Mike wasn’t my kind of kid but he didn’t deserve this ….so I raised my hand, “Mr Kraller? I don’t think teachers are allowed to do that.”

I guess I didn’t quite realize what I was saying… in my heart I was standing up for someone who couldn’t.  In my head I wasn’t attacking Mr. Kraller (although as you can imagine he didn’t see it that way)… I was defending someone who couldn’t defend himself.  Giant old Mr Kraller pushed himself up from his desk and leaned forward, “no one asked you”…and then he slow walked over and kicked Mike one more time looking directly at me.

I suppose Mr.Kraller thought that if he intimidated me that I would become afraid…and why should he think otherwise.  No matter what he did to the kids no one said anything.  No one stopped him…no one did anything.  Funny thing about me… I wasn’t afraid.  In my 10 little years  I had seen way more scarier things then Mr.Kraller kicking a  syrup smelling kid.  In fact to me this wasn’t about Mr.Kraller … this was about Mike and all the other kids who were getting kicked and shamed.  It wasn’t even about me…as he never physically abused me.

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So I went home and told.

We went into the principal’s office the next day.  Mr.Kraller had tenure and they really couldn’t do anything.

Nothing changed.  In fact for the rest of the year…when he did kick a kid (which he continued to do without interruption from any adults)  he would say to me, “are you getting this down?  Make sure you write this down.”  It never intimidated me, strangely enough.  To this day I can still see my hot pink notebook paper with its neon violet lines (which was super cool at the time) and the words in kid handwriting, kicking Nate Chipperman across the room.

I never understood why Mr. Kraller wouldn’t call on me , for the rest of the year, if my hand was raised. It was never about him.  It wasn’t about me… I had nothing to gain..and I didn’t realize I had anything to loose by standing up for the other children.

As an adult I get it… of course he thought it was about him…about me getting him because, he had no concern for the students. He perceived it as me “getting him”… because that was what he did to others.  Besides, in his mind that’s how you treated children…. and he probably hated his job.  It would never cross his mind that I was standing up for the kids, probably because children weren’t something you “stood up for”.

As an adult I understand why the other kids didn’t speak up…or speak out.  They were being shamed…shame told them they deserved to be treated that way.  Shame told them they were every name he called them.  When Mr.Kraller would attempt to humiliate me in front of the class it stung a bit but I still knew who I was.

The art of shaming can keep a lot of people very quiet…. but not all.

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So Thankful…

  • a lovely snowy afternoon.
  • the Piano Guys Christmas album playing  as the snow swirls around.
  • My son and I creating together in my studio.
  • an amazing carrot curry soup
  • when you try on and buy perfect new pants…so nice.
  • strong revelation at the right moment….watching for the response.
  • rice krispie treats.
  • paper mache
  • for a son…this oldest of mine…how we affirm each other… how we build each other up… he’s a good kid.
One Comment leave one →
  1. December 16, 2013 9:35 am

    I love your “strange little story”—and your ten-year-old heart! And the insights that came of reflecting on the whole situation.
    Your thank-You’s also ring with me. Love the music of the Piano Guys, and would really like to know how to make that soup…
    Blessings to you.

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