On the Bulletin Board

Every year, there are teachers all over the country who put a photo of each child in the class on their bulletin board. Next to that photo is sometimes a sheet where the children have answered questions about themselves.

What do you want to be when you grow up? What is your favorite food? What do you like to do after school? List your pets. What’s your favorite sport? Where is the place you want to visit most?

My least favorite of these questions relates to friends. Who is your favorite person? Who do people see you with most? Who is your closest friend?

Since these are copied forms, I assume they are commonly used in elementary schools as a fun way to get kids to share their story. I know from experience in schools that they get used year after year.

As a parent, I love to see what my boys write down. There are always a few funny surprises. “You like to eat what?”

But as a parent of shy children, who absolutely adore their handful of friends, I hold my breath every time these “autobiographies” go up on the wall.

There are always one or two kids who aren’t named by anyone. There are always kids who list a best friend who failed to acknowledge them.

Now, it wouldn’t hurt so much if it were a private assignment through which the teacher got to learn about her new class. It would still provide parents the opportunity to learn those surprises that make us laugh. “You want to be a what?” “You want to go where?”

But posted on the bulletin board for each child to see every time they walk by? Knowing that feelings will be hurt? “Why didn’t he put me as his favorite person?”

I know lots of people who would say, “that’s life” or “you can’t protect them from everything” or “you are so over-protective!”

But it breaks my heart for all the kids who learn from a school assignment posted on the bulletin board for all to see that they are no one’s best friend.

And they never say a word.

As a parent, I wish life’s lessons were not so hard, and that school were a safer place for sensitive souls.

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