On the eve of my...cough...wheeeeeze...49th birthday, I really should be packing boxes (we're moving up the street next week) but here I sit compelled to write a blog, which I haven't done in so long I'm not sure I can do it at all. But I must. It helps me sort things out. There are things to be sorted.
This week I had to be the Principal for two days while the real principal was flat on his back with the flu. E.V.E.R.Y. single time he is out of the office for the entire day something happens that reassures me of how much I DON'T want to be a principal and how much I truly despise the school administration position. Of which I am a part. Right now.
How did this happen again?
Monday morning at 5:30 AM I got the text saying that I was going to be in charge for the day. I moved a little faster since that meant that I was going to have to open the building, deactivate the alarm, etc... I dressed a little better in case...in case I needed to "deal with something." I put earrings on. So yeah, I basically invited the universe to throw something at me. Something big. With prickles.
I teach one class this year, Humanities, which I really like but haven't taught for a long time so I am doing a lot of prep for it. I needed to give a long awaited test that day, so I write the test, no biggie. Wrote the exercise for after the test and tried to preview a video clip. It was about ten minutes into the video that my studentbody president and one of her council members ran into my office breathless.
"Jan, Jan..." (I've always been called Jan my whole career, I don't know why or how it came to be, it just did) Jan...there are four Freshman girls in the back bathroom smoking an E-cigarette! We were just in there and they were refilling it, passing it around and....smoking it!"
"Are you sure?"
"Yes! We took, like, forever to wash our hands so that we could get a good look at who they were so we could identify them for you later. We know what they are wearing and the color of their hair...everything."
I was impressed with their CSISaltLake skills.
"Do you think they're still there? I'll need you to come with me so I gather the right ones."
"Awesome! We know exactly who it was! We washed our hands a long time."
"And they just smoked while you were in there?"
"Yeah! They didn't even care! And they are Freshmen!" (says the Senior girls that run the school...literally.)
So we ran down to the bathroom (I walked very quickly - I mean I'm nearly 50) and they held the door open for my grand entrance. As I walked in it occurred to me that I didn't even know what to say. I was...
And I have been speechless a lot lately which is why I haven't written my blog this year. I get dumbfounded that I'll screw it up or offend someone. I'm worried that I've lost my funny. I'm worried that what I say doesn't matter anymore. Then my sister told me about her secretary at school that saw her at a book fair and said she missed my blog and then I remembered that there were people reading my blog. And all the moments that the Spirit has thunked me on the head to write all came rushing back to me like a giant warm blanket saying "you have a responsibility to yourself and others to write. I need you to write." So I'm writing. And I actually KNOW that this is what He wants me to say. Because the best blogs are the ones that God himself puts in my head and I just jam them out. That's happening right now. It's pretty awesome.
The second the girls see me in the vintage tile doorway of the bathroom they shout out "teacher! teacher! teacher!" and doors on the stalls shut and lock very quicly and very haphazardly. I notice five girls there and since the Senior girls told me there were only four I can't just use my good rope and haul them all into the corral, I have to PICK and CHOOSE based on the descriptions that they gave me as we were walking, running, down the hall.
I am trying to remember....blue hair...you, come with me....blue and pink hair, you come with me too...black pants (oh no! there's two of them! What to do?) So I just take all five of them into the office and try to sort it out there. As we leave the bathroom one girl vanishes into a nearby piano classroom. That's fishy, I think. But she looks "normal" so I let her go. Probably a mistake.
I am speechless and I say a little prayer "help me....I'm speechless...tell me what to say."
And He does.
So I tell them to get all of their stuff and follow me to the office. At this point, I can't get behind them because the bell has rung and the halls start to fill with students of every type and size. I am swimming upstream and trying to herd mad cats at the same time. REALLY MAD CATS.
I finally get them into the Principal's office (because mine only holds two people at a time) and it sounds like this:
A: I don't know why I'm here. I was just changing my clothes for dance.
B: This is stupid.
C: This is super stupid. Somebody needs to go get [smoker #5] she went back to class!
D: What? We weren't doing anything. (reeks of cigarette smell)
E: What if I wasn't doing anything, but I just had to pee real bad?
And other inane things like that that minors say when they have been caught with a controlled and illegal substance on school property.
We are blessed at this school with a Registrar/Front Secretary that is a ROCKSTAR. I'm not kidding. And she doesn't even read this blog. ;-) She used to be a security officer at a nearby school and we are so very lucky to have her here. She knew immediately what to do. Which is good because...it was time for Humanities to start and I needed to give a test.
I give my class time to study for the test and The Rockstar and I search backpacks. We find nothing. We learn that the girl who escaped into piano class needs the "electric chair" apparently (according to the others - remember this is a school full of dramatic types) and we send for her. They say she has the E-cigarette we are looking for. She comes in, plaid wool skirt, white blouse with Peter Pan collar, leather backpack. Her nose is already in the air, the air around her is so thick with self-righteousness that I can barely breathe - she has already convinced herself that she is miles above the other girls in this nicotine-reeking office and "there has been some mistake."
One thing about girls that I have learned since I became an administrator: Girlfriends that share sin are not sacred secret keepers. Just the opposite.
It's too easy.
But they are careful not to speak at once. They are looking around at each other. They don't want to be the one that tells the truth, or speaks first. They are all in the same room and a thought comes to my head "move them to different rooms." "Thank you," I say back to the voice in my head. I begin to separate them. Then one by one, The Rockstar and I get them to fill out "Incident Reports" and they write out their versions of the story on paper, all pointing fingers at two kids basically. It becomes very clear what happened. The story from those that were not involved is exactly as it was told to me from the two Senior girls. The story from the one girl that was actually smoking is a pile of warm, smoking poop. Laughable actually. I'd like to frame the account that Miss Peter Pan Collar gave me and hang it on my wall for a good laugh every once in a while. At least the others were smart enough to sense their doom and owned up to the fact that there were witnesses, Everyone except Peter Pan. She will never grow up. She was beyond adamant about her non-involvement despite the fact that both Seniors identified her involvement to her face.
This is the conversation the two girls had when I brought them together:
Rockstar: Where is the E-cig?
PP: I didn't smoke it. I don't know where it is.
Owner of the E-Cig: Liar! You had it in the bathroom! I gave it to you. You were in the stall smoking it. Those girls saw you. You had it last!
PP: I never touched it.
Rockstar: Impossible. You were identified as one of the girls who was smoking it.
PP: I never did.
Jan: But that's not what any of them said in their report. FIVE girls witnessed you smoking.
PP: I don't know how because it wasn't me.
Jan: FIVE girls SAW you smoking.
PP: I never smoked. I may have touched it, looked at it, but I never smoked it.
Owner: Then where is the E-Cig now?
PP: I don't know.
Owner: You were the last one to "touch" it.
PP: I have no idea where it is.
Owner (to Jan) She's a LIAR!
Like I didn't already know.
So Rockstar and I spent the remainder of the day suspending four fifteen-year old girls for the day and telling eight parents to come and get their kids. This task in itself is unbearably difficult because people work, and people are no longer married so you might end up with way more than 8 guardians or way less. So...you never know who is going to show up or how long its going to take. This is the world today.
It took allllllll day.
But in that day, I got to have four awesome conversations with four very amazing girls.
And that's really what I want to tell you about.