Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Bullies at School - Part II

The school days came and went after our day at the hair dresser's. Although things still didn't seem right, she remained very hushed about what was going on in school. I watched her closely waiting for any sign that she might allow me to step into that room marked "No Admittance."

In my quiet time, I'd think back to the past two years and I'd try to remember all the little "events" that took place. I remember that the first year at this school (her sophomore) was fine.

She made new friends, had a Sweet 16 birthday party that seemed quite successful and the year ended with very sincere friendships. She connected with a couple of friends over the summer, which helped her look forward to the new school year.

Her junior year opened with a customary assembly for all the families and students. At this event, she saw some of her friends and everything appeared fine. She remained excited. However, after the first few months, I recalled her complaining about a few events that took place with one particular girl, whom I'll call Janna.

A very significant event took place the fall of her junior year with Janna. One of the teacher's suspected one of them of plagiarism not only on an essay but on a test. Upon discovery, Janna's mother was contacted first. After discovering what the phone call was about, Janna immediately called our house and told Felicia what was happening. Felicia was beside herself. However, Janna admitted that she had snuck the paper out of Felicia's backpack and copied it and that she had copied off her test. She assured her over and over that she would admit to the whole thing. The principal called our home and I was asked to come to the school with my daughter in tow...there was to be a meeting.

The evidence was placed before us. We were presented with two essays. One was typed and printed on a printer (Felicia's) the other was handwritten in what was clearly not Felicia's handwriting. A logical deduction would be that it was Janna's.

I have to give a little history about the hows and whys of this school.  Felicia was very concientious about her school work because being at this school was a gift to her from her aunt. It was a gift...that came with a covenant agreement between her and her aunt. The agreement was that she had to keep a certain grade point average and she had to honor the school both in rules and conduct. If she failed, she would have one small window of opportunity to correct herself. If she failed, she would have to repay her aunt the tuition. That alone was an incentive because it was not an inexpensive school. Although she only took three classes, they were expensive classes. And I imagine that anything over $50 would be tough for any sixteen year old with a part-time job to repay.

Now my daughter was a typical teenager with a wee bit of extra attitude...that at times would have tried the patience of the holiest of Saints. I knew what she was capable of both the good and bad. Doing something to lose the privilege of this school was not something she would even contemplate...of that I was 99% sure. I say 99% because you never know when that 1% monster will rear its ugly head, right? Nor do you know just how crazy and foolish that "monster" will be when it does come out...because teens do orbit that twilight zone every once in a while. However, lose this privilege? No way. This was not on her short list of things to do.

Our children understand very clearly the same words that my mom always said to us on our first day of school. She would say these words every year, "And remember, if you get called to the principal's office it had better be for an award because if it's not, then don't bother getting off the bus at the end of the day because what I will do to you will be far worse than any punishment you'd receive from the principal. No fighting, no cheating, no stealing etc...and above all.. no disrespect!"

Now, let's step back in to her junior year and the presentation of the two essays. We sat in a circle, the principal, the teacher, the girls, Janna's mother, and me. I recognized the printed paper as being Felicia's and the other...well, the handwriting was foreign to me, but the teacher clearly recognized it as Janna's.  The suspicions were presented and each girl was allowed to say their peace. Felicia said hers first and claimed the type written paper. Janna claimed her own paper but followed it with, "I'm not the one that cheated." Felicia looked at her in disbelief. I looked at her in disbelief. I then spoke up and explained that I knew for a fact that the printed essay was my daughter's because I stayed up with her as she wrote it and printed it out. Then Janna's mother interjected and said, "Well, I know that my daughter would never cheat." 

I looked at her and said with a slight tone of indignation, "You know, it's quite impossible for Felicia to have copied her paper from Janna since there isn't a computer or a printer to be had in this school (putting great emphasis on the the words "computer or a printer"). And while I can only rely on Felicia's word about the test, I am pretty certain that she would not do anything to lose the privilege of attending this school." 

Janna continued to shake her head and insist that she was not the one that cheated and her mother would only affirm her.  After all was said and done, Felicia was firmly reprimanded and I think penalized on her test. Janna received a similar penalty and was suspended from the student lounge for a short time. I asked Felicia if she had allowed Jessica to copy her paper and test and she she responded with, "Mom, why in the world would I do that? How would I get credit for my paper if there were two papers exactly alike? Why would I risk that?"

I said, "I don't know...I'm just two are friends and so I have to  ask. How do you think this happened?"

"I have no idea except that she does have lounge during a time that I have a class, so she could have taken my paper out of my backpack."

There are no lockers in this school. This building is actually a church that has allowed the school to rent their rooms during the week. The whole school is run strictly on an honor basis with the students and the parents.

The following morning, I was walking to the school and her mother approached me and said,"I know Janna didn't cheat." I simply looked at her and said, "Well, you are entitled to your opinion as am I." I walked away.

Once Janna's sequester from the student lounge was over, Felicia tried to maintain the friendship the best way she knew how. And as part of her effort she made the mistake of letting her borrow the study guide for an upcoming test - Janna had apparently "lost" hers. Felicia was under the impression that she was going to hand copy the study guide while Felicia had a class and Janna was on her lunch.  Well, not only did she borrow it, but she kept it. And she kept forgetting to give it back.

I was not happy with my daughter for this, but teenagers think they know better. I think part of this was driven by the fact that she wanted to preserve the friendship, but all my instincts told me that this was not a friendship worth preserving. I had to tell my daughter that choices have consequences and now she would have to figure out a remedy so that she could do well on the test. She had none. She would have to start all over...and guess what would be on the test. That weekend was very painful for her, but it turned into a learning experience.

After the test was over on Monday, Janna gave her back her study guide...told her she wouldn't be needing it anymore. Felicia told me that she had handed it back with such a smirk on her face that she knew then that she had done it on purpose.

The friendship started to slowly deteriorate from there, but it was Felicia who kept giving her the benefit of the doubt. She would come home and tell me about the "strange" things that happened with her and Janna.  And although I was frustrated with my daughter's naiveté, I had to keep silent so that she could walk this out on her own. You know, you can only tell your all-knowing (sarcasm) teenager so much. After that, it only becomes a "right fight." They don't want you to be right.  It's almost as if they believe that their generation of the human race is different from yours. It's that "that was then, this is now" mentality...we're different. We're smarter. We're more sophisticated." Teenagers think we dressed in victorian gowns complete with corsettes, rode to school in horse and buggy, read and spoke only cuneiform (we don't understand them) LOL...geeeeosh!

Little do they realize that humans have been being humans since the fall of man. We are all born with a sin nature and we are all capable of severe, merciless, ruthless, and even dastardly deeds. Psalm 51:5, John 3:6, Romans 5:18, 7:18-19.However, she is right about one thing; they are more sophisticated, that is, the tools to commit their wrongdoings are more sophisticated. They have social medias and technological tools that allow them to commit their dastardly deeds faster and harder with devastating effects...kind of like a tsunami or tornado.

I watched, listened and waited for my precious daughter to come to her senses. But I soon realized I had a  long journey before we'd arrive to a place called "surrender." I knew though that God would have me do nothing but accompany her on the journey.

Christmas break was a welcome intermission.

Part III ...

Forever in His debt,

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