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Posts Tagged ‘Crushes’

This past week, I had two days of consecutive conversations with teenagers who were trying to navigate the baggage they had inherited from getting involved sexually at too young an age. It is one of my biggest frustrations that no one (or maybe not enough people) seems to be talking to these kids honestly about the choices they’re making, so that by the time they get to me, it is often too late.

The first instance was a young lady who came in to see me because she has sought my advice before. Just that Friday, she had come by at the football game and discussed a relationship with a guy. Knowing the guy she was “talking to,” I had warned her as explicitly as I could without telling his business. She assured me that they weren’t dating, but were “friends with benefits.” I explained to her that was worse. “Why?” she asked me, “What’s wrong with that?” I explained to her that being “friends with benefits” meant that she was willing to give herself away without any type of commitment on his part. She was completely devaluing herself. She agreed I was right, and shortly after, went away…

Tuesday, she came in to tell me “things had happened,” and now everyone knew about it and was calling her names, and she might have a disease–an incurable one. “I should have listened to you.” she said, “But, he promised me he was a virgin…” Of course he did. The whole school had heard rumors of everyone this guy’s been with. But, she believed him. And it may have affected the rest of her life.

We discussed how she couldn’t change the past, but she could learn from this. I explained that the most valuable lesson she could learn is to value herself–that her value doesn’t come from a beauty pageant or from an older guy paying attention to her–it is simply because of who she is. I gave her a hug, and she left.

The next day, the second girl came in. She came to talk to me because I had seen the scars on her arm from cutting. She explained that she was doing it because it made her ex-boyfriend pay attention to her. I asked her if she really wanted a relationship with someone who was only in it because he felt sorry for her. She said, “I don’t care why he’s with me, just so long as he is…” The back story on this girl is that she had given this guy her virginity because he kept bugging her. She finally said, “If I let you, will you shut up?” My heart broke when she’d told me that. I explained to her that the reason she felt so attached to this guy is that she had given him her virginity–that that act creates a powerful bond between people, and that’s why it is not to be given thoughtlessly. I explained to her that she needed her heart to be healed and that bond broken.

Two lives devastated by choices. I realize talking about sex is an awkward conversation to have. I also realize that everyone has to make the decision of when and if they are going to have sex, and that THEY have to make that decision. My challenge though–to parents, to teachers, and to adults who have conversations with young people is this: No one says, “I wish I’d been a bigger slut in high school.” But plenty of people say, “I wish I’d waited longer.” Please be honest with kids. Counsel them on the consequences of the choices they make. When appropriate, share your own experiences–even if they include regrets. It’s far easier to be awkward for a little bit than to pick up the pieces after the fact.

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Regardless of your age, height, or physical attractiveness, there will come some point in time in your life when a student has a crush on you. These are especially difficult waters to navigate, but there are some guidelines which may be helpful. First, it is immensely important that I stress, you should in NO way encourage a crush. I have seen far too many talk shows about teachers being in inappropriate relationships with their students. But, that being said, you should also not see a crush as something that requires you to crush a student’s self esteem.

My best advice in dealing with crushes is this: accept the compliment, build self-esteem, laugh it off, and move on. Just today, I walked into the gym to give a student a contest form, and as students started calling my name, one student started clapping, and soon I received a round of applause just for walking across the gym. This will make anyone’s day. Then, however, one of my students felt the need to yell, “Sexy beast!” at me. Instead of flipping out and writing him up, I merely rolled my eyes, said “Whatever,” and kept walking. Later when he confessed that another student had put him up to it, I just pointed out that it was not acceptable behavior (this he knew, as he was confessing.) And that was the end of it.

I have received marriage proposals, date invitations (one student asked if I would go out with him if his mom wrote a letter giving her permission; another asked if transferring out of my class so he wasn’t my student made a difference.), and propositions. In each case, I thank the student for their compliment, point out proper boundaries if needed, and say no. Usually, I employ a bit of sarcasm. Example:

Miss Brailey, will you go out with me?”

Hmmm, do I feel like going to jail today? Sadly, no.”

Or

“If you were ten years older, I might consider it, but alas, you’re not.”

My favorite from another teacher with a known crush on John Travolta (she had a cardboard cut-out of him in her room):

“Mrs. Peele, do you want to go out tonight?”

“Let’s see…(weighing options on imaginary scales with her hands) John Travolta…? Dylan…? Sorry. John Travolta.”

In any case, I don’t need to tell a kid he’s sick and wrong to establish boundaries. I just need to politely decline.

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