The most important thing you and I will ever do…

…will be within the walls of our own homes.  I have that quote from H.B. Lee  posted on my fridge because as much as I love to work, what I’m doing at home is more important than anything I could do in a classroom.  I too frequently assume that because my kids are being raised in a home where they are encouraged and loved and challenged appropriately, that other kids are too.  However, that isn’t the case.

Over the weekend I was in a dressing room and had the misfortune of over-hearing a mother berate her daughter repeatedly.  I deeply regret not saying anything, although between comments like, “You know you’re fat, right?” and “why do you even bother trying on clothes if you look this terrible in them?” I was crafting my response.    I peeked out when I heard their door open and there was a very normal-sized 14 year old girl, sweet as can be.  She was probably 5’3 and 110 lbs. yet the mother kept on with her gaining weight and being ugly and then this whopper: “You know that most girls who are fat and ugly end up committing suicide, right?”

Why didn’t I stop it right there?  This girl’s spirit was being murdered by her own mother.  I wanted to offer to take her home and care for her, to build her up and feed her all the words her soul needs to hear, but I hesitated, waiting for a good opportunity and then it, and they, were gone.

However, while I was standing at the check-out counter, my 13 year-old daughter said, “I’ll be right back.”  She had seen the mother/daughter pair walking around a corner and she went up to the daughter and told her she was pretty.  Both the girl and her mom were taken aback but good for my girl, she said the words.  Even a child knew that abuse of that magnitude mustn’t go unchecked.

One of my favorite roles is being an advocate for teens and it bugs me that I missed my chance back there in Macy’s.  But I’m determined not to let it happen again.  At home and in my classroom, my kids hear that they’re wonderful and know much they’re cherished.  Clearly, I need to broaden my scope a bit and tell a few kids I don’t know yet.  You never know who’s not hearing it at home, one of the most important places you and I will ever work.


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