A student sits slumped in the back of the classroom, looking as if he's actually in pain.
He raises his hand.
"Yes?" I ask, always anxious to answer student questions.
"Mrs. Martinez," he drones, "could you please wear some color tomorrow. You've worn black for the past four days."
I have a split second to decide how to respond. I think of telling him I'm in mourning. It would be a good lesson for him. Or I've been diagnosed with an incurable disease and been feeling a little somber lately.
But I can't. As always, I try to take the request, as it was intended.
"Of course I will. I'll even go shopping and buy something bright!"
The room fills with laughter.
"I'll send you the bill."
A long time ago, a wise woman told me she never gives anyone the power to make her feel bad. If a person speaks harsh or rude to her, she takes the comment as it should have been said, or possibly as the speaker really meant to express himself. Her resolve surrounds her with a shield of positivity that deflects any wounding arrows.
With the wise woman's words always at my back, I saw the student's point of view. He noticed. It mattered. The morning was another foggy morning, and the student had grown tired of dark and dismal. I had the potential to lift his spirits and shrouded in black didn't do it. He was honest and open with me. What more could I ask for?
So how did I handle it?
The next morning, I wore cream colored pants with a bright pink sweater, and the day after, more color, and the day after that was a navy blue suit....anything but black.
And he didn't even notice--which is perfect. The child was having a bad day.
Remember that: __________was having a bad day.
And thank you ____________for teaching me that a positive reaction is more important than the color of the dress.