Diapers and Dragons

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sometimes You Wish You Were Wrong

The warning signs were there.

The arguments. The possessive gestures. The angry words. The demands that she separate herself from her friends, from her family, from her extracurricular activities. The cold shoulder when she didn't please him enough or talked to someone he didn't like.

They sat in my class and I watched them alternate between Antartic chill and get-a-room heat. I could almost see the chains glitter sullenly in the flourescent lights.

Her friends were worried. They came to me in ones and twos and threes. We don't know what to do, they said. She's changed so much. She won't listen to us and she's starting to avoid even talking to us any more.

Has he hit her? I asked.

We don't know. We don't think so. He might have pushed her a little, but she isn't talking and we haven't seen it, they said. We're just worried about what will happen. He's not good for her.

I pulled her into the hall one day when they'd had a particularly nasty argument that ended in tears, however tightly held back, glimmering in her eyes. He didn't want to leave her behind. I made him go to his next class. He went reluctantly, glancing back all the way down the hall.

I'm worried about you two, I told her. I talked to her about the warning signs, about her friends' concerns, about what I saw in class.

He's just a little jealous, she said. He doesn't hit me or anything. He just loves me so much and he has a hard time with me doing things without him.

I'm worried, I said. This kind of relationship isn't healthy. I'm worried about where it could go. Please think about it.

I will, she said, and she made her escape. She must have gone straight to him. He must have gotten her to tell him what happened.

He was angry. He emailed me, telling me I had no business telling her these things, that I was out of line, that he wanted to talk to me about it.

I emailed back. It is my business when you are my students and you are in my class and your relationship affects each other and my classroom, I wrote. I would be more than happy to talk to you face to face about this. Let's meet after class.

He never replied, never addressed it. He backed off a bit in class, tried to charm me a little.

They don't like strong women who call their bluffs.

Five months later, I had him in a new class in a new school year. Two weeks in, he disappeared from my classroom and my roster. I received an email saying he is not allowed within one hundred feet of her and I am to report any interactions whatsoever to the deputy.

I saw her today. How are you? I asked. What happened? Are you okay?

She told me the story, about the jealous rage that led to him throwing her across the parking lot, breaking her cell phone, punching her in the face, chasing her as she fled in her car after a good samaritan pulled him off her, only giving up when she swung wildly into the lot of a police station.

Should I go to the sentencing? she asked. The prosecutor thinks I should.

You need to go, I told her. Not just because he needs to be sentenced and the judge needs you there, but for yourself. You need to be able to face him and stand up and be strong.

You could have said 'I told you so,' she said. You were right.

I didn't want to be right. I never wanted to be right.

9 bits of love:

The Kampers said...

ohhhhhh, this teaching gig is so much more than sentence structure and verbs and creative writing...oh how your heart gets involved! Praise God she came out it!

Arby said...

She needs to go to regain her voice. She will start that process when she speaks out against him. She needs to go to regain her power. She needs to regain control in her life, rather than giving it to someone else. She needs to go to start the process of rebuilding her relationship with herself. She needs to discover that she is a good person who deserves better than what he gave her. She needs to learn why she allowed this to happen. Where are her parents in all of this? Where is her father? Where is her Father?

mom said...

What a dark story! I'm going to be praying for her. And for him. And for you. You have such an important role in so many people's lives. Stay true to that intuition and that courage to speak.

And I love Arby's comment.

sAm said...

What a hard lesson for somebody so young.

JenniferG said...

Oh my gosh. This was so moving. I'm sorry you were right. I hate that you were right. But I admire the way you handled it.

So happy to have found your blog! You are a terrific writer.

Dad said...

You did a good thing. Wove, twuw wove, is about the other, wanting the best for her or him. This girl should go and I pray that she learns that he really did not love her. He wanted to possess her - that is not love!

A Teacher said...

We change the world, one starfish at a time.

Never forget why our kids need us, nor how much we love them, despite all they do convince us we shouldn't.

michelle said...

So glad to know your students trust you and you're invested in them to the extent you'll go out on a limb. It's a rare thing.

Your posts rock

Monica said...

Wow...powerful story. Sorry she went through that, but very glad she had you.

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