Donna O'Donnell Figurski's Blog

It's All About Me!

On School #1 — Grounded, unGrounded, More Grounded

Disclaimer:         (The name in this musing is changed to protect the “infamous.”)

Sarit handed me her math page. She was supposed to correct her mistakes for HomeFun, have her paper signed by her mother or father, and return it to me.  She corrected her mistakes. She returned the paper to me. And, it was signed. At first glance I wasn’t concerned. English is not the first language of the mother, who signed the paper, and so I allowed the benefit of the doubt. But as I looked twice at the signature, I realized it looked odd — rather child-like.

The first letter was not capitalized. The second and third were. The next letter was correct – a lower case “i.” The fifth letter was a “cave” letter. You know like “g” or “p” or “q.” Their tails go below the line. Well, the “q” didn’t. In fact it wasn’t even a “q.” It was reversed and looked like a “g.” The next letter was a capital – another  “A.” At least the signer was consistent. The last letter was correct, a lower case “h.” The name looked like this: sADigAh. It is a middle eastern name and it should have looked like this Sadiqa – a very beautiful name, which means sincere and truthful — two qualities I feared my six year-old student did not possess at that moment.

I looked at Sarit and asked who signed her paper. She quickly, almost too quickly, replied that her mother had signed it. I looked her in the eyes and asked again. She insisted that her mother signed.  Sarit is sweet child. She is a good student and she rarely needs reminding about her behavior. I wanted to believe her. As I was about to dismiss her and tuck the incident into the back of my mind, she let out a sob. Tears quickly streamed down her face. “I did it,” she snuffled. With my expectation realized, I felt defeated. How could this child, who I so completely trusted, look in my eyes and lie to me?

For a few seconds, too disappointed to speak,  I said nothing. Then, “Why?” I asked. She had no answer. I didn’t expect that she would. Did she not remember the story, The Boy Who Cried Wolf? It was a familiar story in my class. I’ve told it numerous times. And with a sigh I told it to her again.

Sarit listened carefully and when I finished she vowed to never lie again. I sent her off to her work. A short time later, she surprised me with a quick hug, and again professed, most sincerely, to never lie again. I  believed her.

I asked Sarit to discuss the incident with her mother that evening, to write a note of apology, and have her mother sign it. She agreed.

The next day Sarit handed me her note. The child-like scrawl flew at me before Sarit insisted that her mother signed the paper. Did she think I was born yesterday? It didn’t take long for her tears to start flowing, as she saw the incredulous and disappointed look on my face.

With no words wasted, I sent a message home requesting her mother to meet me at 3:10 PM on Friday. Between sobs, Sarit nodded. Then she told me that she would “ground” herself. When she saw my quizzical look, she explained that she would not allow herself to watch TV for the entire weekend. I thought that was a good idea, but I wondered if she could do it.

On Tuesday morning Sarit came to school with another note of apology. This time it was signed by her mother and looked like this: Sadiqa – a very beautiful name, which means sincere and truthful — two qualities, which I believe have been restored in my six year-old student.

Before Sarit left my desk, almost as an afterthought, she asked, “Mrs. Figurski, can I “unground” myself now?

“Yes,” I told her — even as I knew that this unpleasant episode had finally grounded her in truth.

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January 20, 2010 - Posted by | Anything Writing, On School

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