I've spent most of my life teaching--and most of my church service has been teaching gospel classes of some sort to the youth. Currently, I'm teaching the young women again--maybe I'll get it right this time and they'll let me be with the adults for awhile. That would be novel.
On the first Sunday of the month the young men and women meet together. This month it was my turn to teach the combined group. I enjoy having the young men join us most of the time, but today I was feeling a bit intolerant. Also, occasionally when PTSD rears its ugly head I am...unfond...of male people, especially those between the ages of 15 and 18. Sigh...
This is all complicated by the fact that the young man who inappropriately touched my daughter is in this group. I don't know exactly what's wrong with him but he's socially weird and often makes odd or shocking comments in order to draw attention to himself. Ordinarily, I take this in stride and let him know as tactfully as possible that he's out of line. It sometimes takes a couple of reminders, but that's rare.
Today, however, I was not tolerant nor tactful. I met his first couple of comments with, "This sounds like something better discussed privately with your parents," and "I appreciate your willingness to share but appropriateness is a good thing to consider before speaking." But when he compared any kind of socialized structure to Communism, and then mentioned that a government run by women was responsible for such an abomination, I'd had enough. I responded with uncharacteristic curtness: "I'm not even touching that comment because I'm offended by your insinuations and if you really mean what you say, I have little respect for your powers of reason. Also, your comment has nothing to do with what we're discussing and I'd like to stay on topic. You can talk about political philosophies at another time and with another person." Please note: I didn't tag the end of that last sentence with "person who is actually stupid enough to care what you think." I believe this shows considerable restraint.
I didn't realize I was being so ...umm ...straightforward ...yeah ...that's a good word ...until another leader moved behind the young man and quietly requested that he refrain from making other inflammatory statements meant to derail my lesson or discuss topics beyond his range of comprehension. The young man turned red and looked angry.
I gave him a couple of minutes to simmer down, then invited him to share his ideas/opinion in reference to a general question I had asked the class. I'm not sure if I was baiting him, or if I was angry at his former attitude still. I have to give him credit. He carefully considered the question and answered with sincerity which he retained for the remainder of class time.
One of the young women leaders caught me after class to tell me she enjoyed the discussion and mentioned a couple of comments the kids had made. I asked her if she thought I was out of line in reference to my response to the young man. She responded by harrumphing and saying, "Someone needs to let him know he's being obnoxious. It's about time! I probably would have just ended up being frustrated, lost my train of thought, given a terrible lesson, and gone home to cry." So--maybe it was a good thing? And she said I seemed completely calm and not angry at all (which Adam verified and he can usually tell when I'm upset).
I am really not good at this emotions thing. It makes me cranky, unpredictable, and shockingly rude--all things I despise.
On the bright side--I'm guessing it will be awhile before that young man takes me on again--unless he really is stupid--the jury's still out on that.