i had a powwow session with some sophomores this afternoon. they were three girls who i really like–two of them are pretty smart, talented writers who just barely get by in school. a “C” is good enough, even though they are more than capable of straight “As”. the three of them, but one in particular, kept talking about other students who they know i like–talking mean about them. i kept wondering what the payoff for them was.

my uncle tommy used to always tell me that competition was the driving force behind all conflicts. when i would talk to him about problems between paula and me, or with mama, or especially with kevin, he would always tell me to look at the competing forces. i want something, the other person wants something, and for some reason those wants need attention at the same time; so there’s a fight. a struggle to see who will give out or give in first.

i hated when he sounded like buddha–but ultimately, he was right. when i started looking at things from that perspective, i could quit fussing with just about everybody (of course, it didn’t stop me from keeping a grudge now and then! haha..)

so, i’m listening to my students, thinking how mean they are, and how that truly sucks, when suddenly it dawned on me that they were in pain. they wanted to be friends with the people they were talking about, but somewhere in their school lives together one of them had caused pain to the others and now these girls couldn’t stop living the pain. they are fighting with the ghosts of the girls they used to be, wishing they could have a few days back to be good to each other. this knowledge was written all over their faces and in the spaces between their hostile words. i heard it. i felt it.

it was hard to listen to after that, and i made them leave. who needs that kind of energy so late in the day???