Wow. That was hard, folks. A lot harder than I ever imagined. I was just a few minutes early for the meeting and as the principal ushered me through a hallway to his office my stomach leapt into my throat and I think its still there. It took a few minutes to gather everyone together. Our DARE officer tried to make a run for it but we called his dispatch and they made him come back to the school. Kayla's teacher had to get someone settled in her classroom while she participated in the court marshal and Kayla had to be called in off the playground. She was hard to find at first- she was obscured by the crowd of onlookers as she operated a shell game with a few pebbles and used yogurt cups back in a dark corner behind the monkey bars.
When she was ushered in to the office she looked every inch of the young, skinny nine year old third grader that she was. She was pale and hesitant and when she saw me there she knew it wasn't good. My heart died just a little around the edges- she didn't speak to me but sat down in the chair between me and principal.
The Principal spoke gently and quietly and explained to her that she wasn't in trouble but we were all here to help her with a serious matter. He told her that everyone had something that they needed to work on at some time or another. Her eyes teared up and she tried to put her hands in front of her face but he told her he needed her to look at him. He asked her if she had been stealing and she could barely get out the word yes. I think it was the only time she spoke. I wanted to hold her hand so badly but I didn't. I don't think there was anyway possible that he could have handled the situation any better. I was in awe.
He introduced the officer as someone who worked at the school to help the children make better decisions. When the officer spoke I was blown away. He somehow managed to speak softly, directly, firmly and gently. His expression was kind but serious. He explained to her that many people had problems like speeding etc. that they had to work on. That there are kids that go to jail, not her age, but not very much older, for stealing and that some of them probably started when they were her age. He went on but I can't begin to remember it all.
Her teacher did not have much to say but I could tell how hard this was for her. Honestly you could read every one's face and know this would be the hardest thing they had to do in long time. I spoke when asked. I told her that it had to be her choice to to stop stealing- I couldn't do it for her. I told her to look around the table at her principal, the police officer, her teacher and myself. About how we had careers and good lives and how we all had to make the choice to follow the law in order to have these good lives. That we all had to learn to follow the rules and that they helped us become the people we are. That I wanted to her to have a good life when she was all grown up. Then the principal told her she could go back to her class.
The grown ups chatted a bit. The teacher told us that while things were missing in class on a regular basis she couldn't say if they were just lost or had been taken or by whom. We made some small talk and a couple of jokes. The officer went on his way and I was able to talk some more with the teacher. We agreed on how we would handle any objects that showed up at home that didn't belong to us and a few other things.
I went back to work but was worthless for the rest of the day. My co-worker had been at a funeral. I think we were in similar shape. At 4:15 she went out and came back with 4- pack of wine and we closed up shop. I had to speak with our liaison at our Amish cabinet company which is always a bit surreal in itself- let alone as I am nurturing a miniature bottle of wine.
My day was not near over even in my exhausted condition. Had to meet the in laws for a bite of pizza. They took my kids to a football game while I went over to Navigator to give one of the worst presentations on encaustic painting thankfully to a small group of ladies who were more interested in hearing about why my third grader was needing to meet with the principal, her teacher, myself and a police officer.
"Kristi- get the wine out" I commanded as I walked in the door. We didn't have a cork screw. She cleverly found some other kind of screw and between that and a pair of pliers we forced that cork out. Pictures to follow.
Today I look and feel like 100 years old. I went for coffee with Barb just to escape but other than that I think we will settle into our sofa soon. Tomorrow I will have Kayla tell her dad about the meeting so that I can get a clue as to her out look on what happened. Not today though, tomorrow is soon enough.