A boy sprawled next to me on the bus, elbows out, knee pointing sharp into my thigh.
He frowned at me when I uncrossed my legs, unfolded my hands
and splayed out like boys are taught to: all big, loose limbs.
I made sure to jab him in the side with my pretty little sharp purse.
At first he opened his mouth like I expected him to, but instead of speaking up he sat there, quiet, and took it for the whole bus ride.
Like a girl.
Once, a boy said my anger was cute, and he laughed,
and I remember thinking that I should sit there and take it,
because it isn’t ladylike to cause a scene and girls aren’t supposed to raise their voices.
But then he laughed again and all I saw
was my pretty little sharp nails digging into his cheek
before drawing back and making a horribly unladylike fist.
(my teacher informed me later that there is no ladylike way of making a fist.)
When we were both in the principal’s office twenty minutes later
him with a bloody mouth and cheek, me with skinned knuckles,
I tried to explain in words that I didn’t have yet
that I was tired of having my emotions not taken seriously
just because I’m a girl.
Girls are taught: be small, so boys can be big.
Don’t take up any more space than absolutely necessary.
Be small and smooth with soft edges
and hold in the howling when they touch you and it hurts:
the sandpaper scrape of their body hair that we would be shamed for having,
the greedy hands that press too hard and too often take without asking permission.
Girls are taught: be quiet and unimposing and oh so small
when they heckle you with their big voices from the window of a car,
because it’s rude to scream curse words back at them, and they’d just laugh anyway.
We’re taught to pin on smiles for the boys who jeer at us on the street
who see us as convenient bodies instead of people.
Girls are taught: hush, be hairless and small and soft,
so we sit there and take it and hold in the howling,
pretend to be obedient lapdogs instead of the wolves we are.
We pin pretty little sharp smiles on our faces instead of opening our mouths,
because if we do we get accused of silly women emotions
blowing everything out of proportion with our PMS, we get
condescending pet names and not-so-discreet eyerolls.
Once, I got told I punched like a girl.
I told him, Good. I hope my pretty little sharp rings leave scars.
There are a number of students in my GCSE class that have behavioural issues and if they feel uncomfortable they can do anything from storm out of the classroom to throwing chairs and punching their tables. They’re great kids, they just dont always see the light at the end of the tunnel and when they are in stressful situations they dont know what to do other than lash out sometimes. They are 10 months away from their final exams and the pressure is being mounted on them in every aspect of their school lives.
Last week one of the students saw me making little origami stars. Its something I do when I’m feeling anxious to help me focus on something else. He asked if I could show him how to make them. He had been clenching his fists all lesson, which I’ve noticed is a tell that he is struggling to retain composure. I gave him a strip of paper and talked it through with him. Soon half of the class were asking me to show them. They all picked it up really quickly.
After about five minutes and about 8 stars later, the student sat back down and was in a much calmer and motivated mood for the rest of the lesson. Our next lesson I placed a box of paper strips on my desk and when I saw anyone getting worked up about their work I silently placed a strip in front of them and let them get on with it. The lesson after I was amazed to see that students would go up to the box of their own accord, pick up a few strips and head back to their desks to continue working after calming down.
Yesterday I brought a large jar into the classroom and placed my anxiety stars in there. The boys put their strsss stars in there too. When they fill the jar I’m going to bring sweets into the lesson to celebrate them working hard and working through their problems in a positive manner. I know I’m not the teacher they deserve just yet but I feel like I’ve made a big breakthrough with them.
In case you’re wondering how to do them, I made a video explaining it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNYgwWMLZV0
oh now this is cool
I LOVE CATCHING PEOPLE SMILING AT THEIR PHONES BECAUSE IS IT A CUTE TEXT?? IS IT PORN???? WHO KNOWS BUT I’M GLAD YOU’RE HAPPY FRIEND