It was 1987. I was wearing a big white bow in my hair, a cute denim jumper dress, and white Keds with bobby socks. I was 18 and crying in front of a class of 6th graders.
Something babbled out of mouth like, “If you knew me, you’d really like me.” I can still see one of the boys smirking at me as I cried.
This is my true and somewhat traumatic memory of being a substitute teacher at a Department of Defense school in West Germany. Desperate for subs, they hired me fresh out of my freshman year of college. Newly married and full of ideas and sweetness, those 6th graders ate me alive.
A week later, I was telling the cry story to my friend Carla Breeding, an experienced teacher. She said, “Oh my word Lisa, you have to read this book”. She pulled a book off her shelf called Be Assertive.
It changed my life.
I thought loving kids was about being sweet, being fun, and being a pal. But what I learned from that book was that loving kids is framed by healthy, kind, clear boundaries.
The next time I subbed, I remember writing on the board: “If you get out of your seat without permission, you will go to the principal’s office.” I was tested within 5 minutes by the most testing kid in the class, the smirker from my cry day. I sent him straight to the principal’s office and then said to the rest of the class “who’s next?” From that moment forward, it was a good day of learning sans tears from the sub.
I still have issues with boundaries, but I’ve read the Cloud and Townsend book. I still have issues with desperately wanting to be liked, so I often learn in the codependent circle at Shift that I’m not alone in this. But deep inside, my heart longs for people to know how much He loves us. How that plays out in real life must be steeped in kind, loving, sincere, patient, assertive boundaries so that Christ is King, Christ is known, Christ is adored.
The sweet girl with the white bow is still learning.