I have witnessed girls intervening on behalf of children who were being bullied, and I am always awed. Once when I was in high school, I overheard a girl tell a boy he was ugly. I assumed they were friends and that she was teasing him, but it quickly became clear that they weren’t, and she wasn’t. It was nothing more than meanness. I clearly remember all of the horrified retorts that crossed my mind, but in the end, I’m ashamed to say that I stayed out of it. So I am more than a little respectful of these little girls—and there are quite a few of them—who don’t put up with any nonsense, even from friends and acquaintances.
One of them even came to my defense recently when I encountered an unruly student. When he got lippy with me, the girl next to him fixed him with a withering look and ordered him to “stop being ignorant.”
Once when I was calling roll, I ran into a particularly difficult name to pronounce. But when I asked the boy to pronounce it for me, he refused, so I kept going. When I’d finished, the boy’s friend spoke up. “My friend’s name is really cool. Want to hear how he pronounces it?” After urging his friend several times, he said it for me, and then he grinned proudly. “Isn’t that cool?” When I agreed, it had double meaning. I still haven’t mastered tact, and these children were sixth graders.
In fact, every now and then, there’s a student I suspect is older than I am on the inside. It’s almost an eerie feeling because I think I am pretty old. I once had to go to a strange building on a large campus. One high school boy apparently knew his teacher’s schedule, and he knew the building was confusing and hard to find. “Do you know where you go next, Ma’am?” He asked. “Here, I’ll show you.” And he walked me there. Every one of those things is a weird response for a high school kid—the concern, the willingness to be seen with a strange middle-aged teacher. And this was no loser kid.
Sometimes I wonder what happens to these children. I imagine they grow up to run governments and armies and rescue people and save the world.
I hope so. Because the world needs them.