Today, as he walked down the hallway, I stopped him to ask him about a rumor I had heard and whether it was true. When he affirmed its validity I couldn’t help but tell him I was surprised he had been involved, that it seemed out of his nature to make such choices. He looked me straight in the eye and said, “Well, Mrs. Ripp, I thought you didn’t care because you were disappointed in me.” Confused, I asked him what he meant. “You told me you were disappointed in me back in social studies…”
And then it all clicked; this child had never been told that I was no longer disappointed. This child, whom I care for deeply, had never been let off the hook but instead I had left him dangling, wondering where our relationship stood. I stammered out a hurried reply about not being disappointed any longer and then walked away ashamed. How could I have left him to think that for so many weeks? How many times have I done this before? How many other kids assume that I view them unfavorably because of how they have been spoken to?
So as I sit here defeated, I vow to change, to speak to these kids and then follow up. When we use such heavy sentences as “I am disappointed in you” do we ever come back to tell them that we no longer feel that way? Do we repair the void we create with our words or do we just let it grow? As for this kid, I wrote him a note saying I was sorry. What will you do if this happens to you?