I so distinctly remember when I was in middle school and I had the strong realization that I had to really think about every word that came out of my mouth. I don't remember exactly the circumstance, I must've said the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong time, I suppose, but I really remember feeling so sad about the fact that I could no longer freely speak whatever was on my mind. I suddenly discovered that words had power and meaning and if I wasn't careful with them I could get into trouble.
Well, today a student at our school had the same wake-up call. I was the study hall teacher today at lunch. All of the students who were there had work to make up for Spanish, so the Spanish teacher came as well to make sure that everyone knew what they needed to do. After she got them all squared away she left the room to go make some copies. I stayed sitting at my desk and all of the students, working silently, stayed at their desks. One of them was not working, though. This student had left his work at home and study hall was his punishment. He had to just sit at the desk and ponder. Well, after the Spanish teacher left all was quiet in the room for a few minutes. I was working, they were working, it was good -- until I heard from the other side of the room, "God I hate that stupid b*tch." I raised my head and gasped in surprise. Then the student raised his head and gasped in surprise. He immediately started apologizing, muttering, "omigod, omigod, omigod." I escorted him to the office and by the time we got there he was crying, asking what was going to happen. It was immediately clear that he had forgotten I was there -- easy to do since the Spanish teacher had been helping everyone and she had just left the room.
He was sent home, suspended for the day. I actually felt kinda bad for him, and would've felt worse except for the fact that he's had it coming for awhile, he just finally got caught. Still, he was so remorseful and immediately knew he had messed up big time.
I had a little talk with him while he waited for his parents in the office. I told him I understood what happened, that it was an accident, but still, he's got to be responsible for what he says, and he really shouldn't say things like that no matter who is around. I wonder how he's feeling about it now and if learning that lesson is as painful for him as it was for me.
Then again, if my son's take on it is any indicator, he could be receiving congratulatory phone calls from his classmates. My son is in his class and he plans on shaking his hand in the morning, thanking him for having the guts to say out loud what they've all been thinking.