The Self-Manager Badge
I’m in second grade and I’m going to be eight soon. I try to be a good person, but my teacher never gives me a self-manager badge. There must be something that I’m not doing right, but I don’t know what. Other self-managers walk up the slide, and I never do that, but still they have the green bobcat pinned to their overalls, and I have nothing. I try not to run in the hallway, though I do sometimes, but I’m almost always quiet during class. When I draw pictures, I always do my best. But there’s something that I’m not doing right. I don’t think my teacher likes me very much.
She gave me a self-manager badge once. My mom told me it was because someone else told my teacher what a great kid I was, and my teacher felt embarrassed when she had to say I wasn’t rewarded with a badge.
It didn’t really count because she kept taking it away. If a self-manager disobeys a rule, like walking up the slide, the teacher takes the badge away for one day. If she has to do it seven times, then she takes it forever. I heard rumors that teachers wait until the students are gone and then they crush them with their bare hands.
One time I was running a little bit in the hallway, and when I turned the corner, she was there talking to another teacher. I knew she wanted my badge, so I took it off and gave it to her before she asked for it. The other teacher laughed, and my teacher seemed mad because I did that.
After that I went to recess and thought about my badge. I had hardly had it for a week or so, though half the time I didn’t have it; the teacher did. Sometimes she’d keep if for days and I’d have to ask to have it back. Already I had it taken away four times. I decided that from then on I’d be extra careful, so careful and so good that the teacher would be so impressed, and then I wouldn’t get it taken away anymore.
When we came in from recess, I tried not to look at my teacher because I was ashamed that I had broken the rules. But then I had to look, because I saw that she was holding my self-manager badge. Everyone was watching her. It shone in her hand. I wondered if there had been a mistake and she was going to give it back to me, but then she crushed it with her hands like it was aluminum and threw it in the trash.
I was confused. There must have been something that I did wrong, something awful, that would cause her to do that. I tried not to cry, but I did anyway. As I sat on the rug during story time, sobbing and trying to remember what terrible thing that I had done, I felt a pinch of anger. This was my first injustice.