I keep thinking about an incident that happened at church tonight. We have a ritual of going around the circle and everyone tells one good thing and one bad thing that happened to them during the week. With a bunch of middle and high schoolers who are very rambunctious we are constantly asking them to be quiet and listen to what their peers have to say.
Anyway, tonight a guy was telling us about some kids who threw hot sauce in a locker bay and it happend to land on this guy's new books. It wasn't relevant to the story that the kids were minorities - earlier he had told Kari and I about it and specifically used their race, at which time I explained that kids are kids and we wouldn't mention their race if they were white. Anyway, when he told the group he (thankfully) left that detail out - until others asked of their names. That is when the horribly racist comment was blurted out of a different boys mouth. And I freaked out. I didn't yell, but made an uncomfortable situation. I made it clear that it was unacceptable to discriminate for any reason.
The reason I feel bad is, I should have addressed the whole group more and not made it seem like I was only chewing him out. He is a really good kid - completely outrageous and funny and clever and smart, he was only trying to make a joke.
Later, I pulled him aside and apoligized for singling him out. I told him I knew he was a good kid and that I should have directed it at the whole group. He told me it was okay because, he was used to being yelled at. I don't want him to be used to being yelled at! I want to understand him and figure out how to express my displeasure without making him an example.
How do we teach our middle schoolers to love and respect eachother. Not cut eachother down and proclaim their hate for each other. It is such a crazy time in their lives, where they are figuring out where they fit in. There is such competition between everyone. Why can't they just go with the flow, deal with people who they think are annoying. How do I help them do that!?