Note: if you are new to this blog, or reading after an absence, you might want to check out the two previous posts to get the background of this story…
We recently had our monthly parents meeting at Son’s preschool. The issue of “inappropriate communications” was raised briefly, and the rules for addressing issues and concerns was restated for all. Then the teacher spoke about inclusion and what that meant to her (that all children have a right to be there). She also introduced the new teacher and reminded people that this person’s job was to assist “one of the children” so that hopefully things would be running more smoothly. By the end of this it wouldn’t have been hard for someone to connect the dots and come to the fairly obvious conclusion that an anonymous (and unpleasant) communication had been received that was directed toward our family and probably questioned his right to be there.
We then broke off into groups to discuss various scenarios that occur in the classroom and how duty parents can respond to them (last month some parents had asked for this opportunity). However, given what had just preceded this exercise it was no surprise that many people were focussing on the issue of kids hitting each other and kids getting hurt, etc.
I should tell you that I ended up figuring out the most likely candidate for our mystery letter even before we went to the meeting. At the meeting she stared at her shoes most of the time and didn’t look very happy, while you could see everybody else thinking “wow, what sort of intrigue has gone on that I haven’t heard about?”. I deliberately did not sit in her group when we broke up for discussions. Within just a few minutes of starting I became aware that someone behind me was crying: a discreet glance over my shoulder confirmed that it was my Suspect, sharing something with her group. She was pretty much in tears for the rest of the evening, and before we left I saw her sitting next to the teacher in a “confessional” position, crying. I don’t know if she confessed or if she just finally broke down and expressed all the pent-up feelings that led to her doing that, but I was glad to see it. Not out of any malice, but because I could see quite clearly that she was someone to feel sorry for: confused, upset, and only able to express those feelings in a dysfunctional and destructive way.
When we left, she and her partner were staying behind to speak with the teacher. I don’t think it escaped many other people that she just might be the person who had done this. I felt really good knowing that her identity may in the end be guessed at by the rest of the class through no action on my part. I am proud that we did the Big Thing.
And I’ll share a secret with you…doing the Big Thing had lots of unforeseen benefits. First, I am amazed at how easily I recovered from this incident once I let go of any feelings of anger. I was wondering if it would be very hard for me to be at that meeting (I would normally be filled with anxiety in such a situation), but I felt quite calm and in control of my emotions that night. I am sure that had I not let go of the negative feelings, the evening would have practically given me an ulcer. I am also pleased at how it changed my perspective of the person who did this. When I saw her at the meeting I didn’t feel any animosity or anger, I just felt sorry for her. By the end of the meeting, I was hoping she would get the support she needed.
This whole experience has ended up being a very “Zen” one for me, and I am actually grateful to have had the experience.