This year for Christmas, Hubby Blue got me a necklace that says, "Police Wife." It has a little blue stone with it and another charm with his badge number on it. I wear it almost every day with another necklace he got for me before we were even engaged, but usually it's tucked into my shirt or underneath a scarf (I live in scarves all winter...if it was acceptable, I'd wear a hat and gloves too). Apparently, though, a student in my school, a 5th-grade girl, saw it the other day. Today she said to me, just out of the blue while we were standing in the hall, "Yesterday I saw your necklace said 'Police Wife.' Is your husband a police officer?"
"Yep," I replied.
She and the girl next to her looked at each other with huge eyes and pretty much shrieked. "Ooooh!!! Dang, that must be scary!!!" they both yelled.
How do I respond to that? Six years of teaching has given me a little bit of practice at maintaining my composure in a lot of different scenarios, but inside I was really caught off guard. All I could say was, "Not, it's really not," but then I had to stop myself. The school I teach in is 80% low-income. More often than not, my students' parents are the kind of people my Hubby Blue is out arresting as I type this. My students don't see police officers as the good, strong, safe, self-sacrificing, respectable people I do. To my students, the police are the people who take mommy and daddy away, put them in jail, ransack their homes looking for drugs, take away their driver's licenses, and on and on and on. I can't pull out the books about police officers and how "good" they are because it totally contradicts what they know and believe. I can't open my mouth and get too passionate (they're only kids, after all) and say too much when my kids start getting agitated and go off on tangents about how bad the police are. I know they are just kids but it is so sad to hear their viewpoints and realize their beliefs are so rooted in where they come from that nothing I say will change their minds. And that I really don't have time to change their minds. I've got objectives to meet and standards to teach!
Anyway, I just found that little exchange interesting. I'm curious to know how any other kid would react to the information that Mrs. Blue is married to a police officer...but I've been in smalltown America so long I can't even begin to guess.