Friday, April 24, 2009

The Yell

Jennifer knows this story, but it is a good one, so it will be told.

Once upon a time (okay, Wednesday) when sitting at my chair at the Children's circulation desk, a funny thing happened.

Maybe the cause was predictable. But my response was not. In fact, it only has one precendent in my lifetime that I am aware of.

I was riding the bus when it happened the first time. A poor girl had been tormented when I was riding the bus everyday, but no one stood up for her but me. I then stopped riding the bus when the kids turned on Paul, and I thought everyone would have grown out of it by the time I sat back down on the green plastic-made-to-look-like-leather seat.

As usual, Shawn was making sexist comments, and being generally loud. But there were several other kids that had joined him in the back. Including one of Paul's friends from kindergarten that he wasn't so close to anymore, and some kids from my church.

All of them were being very hateful toward poor Heather. Then they started throwing food at her and calling her a pig, and I had seen enough. I stood up and shouted at them all, yelling a powerful yell that forced complete silence on the bus, even though yelling was normal.

My yelling wasn't.

I shocked the whole bus. David, Paul's friend, was so surprised that he became kind and polite, at least around me.

Shawn was so shocked he never spoke to me again.

Kyle was terrified I would tell his parents. And I did (I used to baby sit this kid--he knew better).

And the bus driver, Debbie, was so shocked she tried to yell at me for yelling at them. Instead, she recieved my wrath. I told her that her job was more than just driving. Her job was to shut up mean kids or kick them off the bus. And she wasn't doing it, or she was just very bad at it, and that she needed to decide which option it was.

She threatened to kick me off the bus, I told her I wasn't her problem.

I never rode the bus again. What I did do, was write Chuck Pavey a nice letter telling him bullying was a real problem on our buses, and that he ought to do something about it.

This time was much less dramatic. I heard a kid telling another kid using bad language toward another kid, that kid responding in kind, and tempers flaring. So I stood up (seems like that's necessary for me in such instances) and told them all that if they wanted to stay in the library, that they would treat each other, other younger children and parents, and the librarians with respect or they could all find another place to spend time after school.

One tried to interrupt, but I told him to be quiet or get out.

You get to kick obnoxious kids out when you work in a library. It's a perk.

I did not know where the yell came from. I sat back down as the other children went back to their Yu-Gi-Oh game (I guessed on that spelling) or computers.

Later, I went back into the office and April and Nancy looked up at me, beaming.

"What?" I asked, laughing, "What's wrong with me?" I assumed there was some smear of something on me, or that I was otherwise looking freakish.

They told me, alternating between them, that they had heard my yell. That it had included all the right information--I was in charge, staying was a privaledge I could revoke, and that they should respect each other--and that it had been assertive and good. They had been suprised to hear it.

"It was a good yell," they said.

"I didn't know I could do that," I said.

"You sounded like a natural," they replied. "We knew you had it in you."

And you know, I am kind of proud of myself about the whole ordeal. Yelling kind of feels good, and I don't have to cry afterward, apparently, when I shout at nasty, stinky, rude kids.

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