Not Everyone Loves a Clown
So yesterday, I had lit circle. I’ve been having some trouble connecting with them. Part of it is very few of them are actually friends so they don’t feel as comfortable sharing as the kids in my last group. Also, they all like different genres so trying to engage them all in a single story has been exhausting. But…I finally did it! Inventing Elliot by Graham Gardener was the answer! They’re all over this book.
When we met yesterday, we talked about Phoebe Price, the girl who hanged herself because of being tormented by bullies, and bullying in general. We discussed the case and how the worst of her bullies are facing charges and what could have been done to make a difference in Phoebe’s life. I told them about the articles I read and how the single most effective action to curtail bullying wasn’t parents or teachers, it was the response of peers. Bridget, one of the girls said, “But we don’t have any power.”
I told her that they had the most power in situations like this. No one wants to be disapproved of by their peers and that by condemning the action of a bully (not the person) they actually help to end the bullying behavior because then the bully experiences the disapproval.
These kids are lucky. Their school really does have a zero tolerance policy regarding bullies, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Bridget, who’s relatively new to the school says it’s way better than her old school, but she still sees it occasionally.
So for the next two weeks, all seven kids are conducting an experiment. If they see someone being bullied, they’re going to stand up for the kid in question. The cool thing is, they all seem genuinely excited about trying the experiment. They’re going to take notes and we’ll be discussing it during our next lit circle session. I talked to the teachers and they’re excited too. Will it stop all bullying in the school? I doubt it. Will it show these kids that they do have power to help change things? I sure as hell hope so.
After lit circle, I was feeling pretty good, and I walked back into the office to sign out. Oh what a mistake! After I checked out, I turned around and squealed. Loudly. Because there behind me, talking in a totally normal voice to one of the secretaries was a fucking clown! Green hair, hat with a flower, full-on clown makeup and ginormo red shoes. Apparently his kid had forgotten his lunch at home.
Of course both the secretaries frowned at me and the principal, vice principal and the guidance counselor all stuck their heads out of their doors to see WTF. The clown glowered me. Angry man face underneath eerily happy clown face is beyond creepy. Seriously, the stuff that nightmares are made of. Needless to say, my happy lit circle high dissipated rather quickly.