Saturday, April 21, 2007

Seventh Grade Girl Drama

I swear, I could submit the whole thing to Dei'ah ve Dibur as something like "The Power of Lashon Ha-Ra". Seriously. I don't think I ever quite understood the warnings about how you shouldn't even pay compliments, for fear feelings might be hurt before. Not like this.

Oy. Oy. Oy. Drama At St. Colmcille Elementary School. (Please note, for newcomers to the blog, in order to protect my student's identities, I have not only changed the name of the school, I have changed their names, and refer to these mostly black and Latino Catholic school kids by Hebrew names that I assign them. The names have some significance, or none, being related by sound, meaning, or inside joke, to the names their parents gave them. Don't worry about it.)

It seems to have started a little something like this. (I present this edited version, sorted out of several interviews, for your convenience.) The students who helped at a school concert last night, including most of them in my class, were rewarded with a free dress pass, meaning that they can wear their civilian clothes, instead of their uniforms. Brachi told Sarina that she looked nice today. Sarina, who does not speak English as a first language, said, "Thank you, you do too."

Between adults, the whole thing might have stopped there. But Brachi, who desperately wants to be the center of attention at all times, decided to go on. She said, "Just between you and me, do you think we are the two prettiest-looking girls in the seventh and eighth grade today? Just tell me." Sarina shrugged, and said, "OK, I guess so."

After this the trail of evidence becomes disputed, and fairly murky, but what we can be sure of is that Sarina repeated this conversation to Margalit, and perhaps others. (Brachi says several others, Sarina says ONLY Margalit. But tell Margalit, tell the New York Times, except Margalit is faster, and not bound by journalistic principals.)

As a result, some short time later, Shoshi comes up to Brachi and says "Did you tell Sarina that you and her were the cutest girls in the seventh and eighth grades? Because that's really conceited." "I did not say that!" Brachi exclaims. Brachi then goes off and tells the entire story to Aviva, just to clear her head, she claims, (tell Aviva, tell Fox News Network) and then confronts Sarina, who, when told that Shoshi said she said, bursts into tears and runs off to confront Shoshi. Na'amah is also involved in this, I think, but I'm not sure exactly how...

At this point, dumb ole Ms. Bluejeans is only aware that there is some conflict developing between some of the girls in the class, but is not aware how much, or that it will blossom into something worse than the hurt feelings they inflict on each other routinely. At lunch, Ms. Bluejeans has her usual Erev Shabbos classroom lunch for a small group of students who like to talk about their problems and concerns, but most of the time is spent trying to enforce a shomer negiah policy, or perhaps a restraining order, between Tzippi and Reuven, who are in love, in a seventh grade way, and express this by hitting each other a lot, and arguing constantly. Even the other kids tell them they sound like an old married couple. I'm just afraid that someone will suffer a concussion before they're old enough to just admit that they like each other.

There was one reference to the brewing storm, as Reuven commented "I just don't get why girls have to tell each other things that are supposed to be secrets and then get all mad when it turns out other people know about it." I told him "Reuven, hon, you will be wondering that until you are an old man with a long white beard, so you may as well start now." "You're weird, Ms. Bluejeans," he commented.

Anyway, by the end of lunch, Mrs. Baum the lunch supervisor has had to send both parties to the principal, because the drama has gotten unbearable. I spent much of the PE period talking to all parties and trying to sort out exactly what's going on here.

Best moment:

Ms. Bluejeans: "Brachi, do you think that some of this might have happened because Sarina's English isn't perfect?"

Brachi: "Nooooo...she knew what she was doing!"

Ms. Bluejeans: "Brachi, I'm not so sure, because English is my first language, and I barely understand what you just told me. If you told me in Spanish, I don't think I would have the slightest idea what the problem was."

Brachi: Shrug. "But she lied to me when I asked her about it!"

I am never again telling the social studies teacher that I like her skirt. Never.