There’s a first grader we’ll call “Hazel.” Most of the first and second grade girls like me – sometimes too much. But Hazel is the exact opposite. She makes it very clear that she doesn’t like me at all, and seizes any opportunity to say mean things to me.
When the other girls say things like, “You’re so tall and strong,” Hazel says, “No he’s not! He’s weak!” She’s very critical of me. When we’re drawing, she’ll say things like, “Is that supposed to be a tree? I can draw a tree way better than that. It doesn’t even look like a tree.”
The other girls stick up for me. “Yes it does,” they say.
“It’s an ugly tree,” says Hazel.
“I like it,” say the other girls.
“Can you draw a picture for me?” asked one of the girls.
“Trust me, you don’t want him to draw for you,” says Hazel. “He’s terrible.”
One day Hazel glared up at me and said, “You’re boring.”
May, who was standing right next to her, followed her lead. “Yeah, you’re boring!” she said, grinning that goofy grin of hers.
“I’m so boring, is that why you hug me and don’t let go?” I asked May.
Taking that as her cue to hug me, she moved forward.
“No! No hugs!” I said. She looked at me with that dazy smile of hers. Apparently to her “No hugs” means “Yes hugs.” What I had said was, “Is that why you hug me and don’t let go?” And I think what she heard was, “Hug me and don’t let go.” Kids and their selective hearing. It’s not that I mind so much, it’s just that I couldn’t really do anything with her hugging me all day. I have a lot of other kids to take care of. I’d try to move and drag her around with me, but that wasn’t very effective.
The 1st graders liked playing Apples to Apples, and they would always ask me to play with them. It’s a good game for them, since it teaches them the meaning of words.
Hazel came over and asked, “What are you doing?”
“Playing Apples to Apples,” said one of the girls.
“Do you want to play?” I asked her.
“But we already started!” said the other girls.
Hazel left, and the other girls started talking about her.
“She’s mean,” they said. “She always tries to be the boss of us.”
“Yeah. I don’t like her.”
“I don’t want her to play with us.”
These were very nice girls who normally don’t say anything bad about anyone. But here they were, and they all agreed that they didn’t like Hazel.
“Hey, that’s not nice,” I said. “Gossiping is bad. She would probably be very hurt if she heard you saying that about her. Do you want to hurt her?”
“No,” they said, shaking their heads.
“You should always be nice, even to people who are mean to you.”
I like kids like Hazel. For one reason or another she chooses to be mean to people. There has to be some underlying reason as to why she does this. I think a lot of adults give up on the “tough” kids, the ones who don’t listen and give attitude. But I think it’s important to treat them the way you treat any of the other kids. Discipline when necessary, but never be overly harsh. You don’t know what kids like her are going through. They might not like you now, and they might give you attitude, but you never know when they might need you.