Rounding the corner, he heard her yelling. Creating one of the most iconic images of a teacher lecturing a child imaginable, she loomed over the student one hand on her hip and the other extending her finger towards the students face. Walking closer, he finally heard what she was saying.
“What was respectful about walking into the classroom with your mom berating the teacher on speaker phone?”
Secretly wishing he could hear the rest of that conversation, he hurriedly walked to his classroom. Along the way he ran into a student.
“Didn’t class start 10 minutes ago?”
“Yeah, I tried to skip but got caught. I didn’t want to come to school today.”
“Hey Mister, did you hear what happened this weekend?”
Applying the no-news-is-good-news standard, he dreadfully replied, “Umm, nope. What?”
“One of the students was shot and killed.”
“Huh-uh, my three year-old niece is going to be so smart. She’s playing these learning video games already.”
“I don’t think video games are so great for three year old’s, even if they are supposed to be educational.”
“What?! No Mister, you’re wrong. She’s already so smart, and her one year old sister is even smarter already and she’s only one.”
Clearly an un-winnable argument, he tried to change the subject. Then it occurred to him. What these kids needed to do was unthinkable, unspeakable even.
For weeks he had struggled as he tried to pinpoint the problem that needed to be solved. Step one of problem solving required “Recognize the problem.” It wasn’t that the kids didn’t know information, it was that the kids didn’t want to know and didn’t need to know. Unfortunately for them, he also knew what he knew: Learning opens the door to life. The news from the morning reminded him this wasn’t a metaphor. This day–especially this day–he was reminded of this not only logically, but emotionally.
As if an insatiable itch, his conclusion wouldn’t allow him peace. He was a doer. But this? He could not bring himself to do it.
He wondered if anyone could understand the fear he felt. He knew his track record. Once he made up his mind he went to work. But this time, he couldn’t do it. He wouldn’t. It was too dangerous. Literally. He wished he would’ve seen it coming so he could have just avoided the whole mess. Where was his intuition this time?
These kids had one chance. If they had any hope of changing their future, they had one and only one opportunity. Someone they respected had to tell them the truth.
“Sorry kids. Your parents are epic failures. This is observable scientifically; it is measurable and quantifiable according to every scale imaginable. The only thing you can learn from them is what not to do. Your only hope is to internalize this and its unavoidable conclusion: You are on your own. The good news is that none of this was your fault. The better news is at your age you are fully equipped to take responsibility for your actions. And if you choose to believe this and act accordingly, one day you will look back on this decision as simultaneously the greatest and worst day of your life. So…what do you want to do?”