“My pants ripped.” I looked up to see a red face boy standing at my desk. At that moment I heard giggles and laughter from a few of the other students.
Tears welled up in the boy’s eyes. I tried to fill out the form to send him for help but I couldn’t understand him because of the tears.
I had an assignment as a guest (substitute) teacher for a 5th-grade classroom that day so I didn’t know his name. The word spread and as other students joined in the giggles, the more the tears came.
For his sake, I decided I needed to stop the students so I turned and commanded, “Stop it right now!” Then I softened my tone to plead with them, “Look, we’ve all had embarrassing situations happen to us so lets’ be careful about our response to him.” I nodded in his direction. “Look, at how he’s feeling. We need to be sensitive.”
When the ringleader girl raised her hand, I said, “I’m not taking any comments unless it’s an apology.” The class quieted down as I tried to figure out how to safely get him to the office since his pants ripped all the way down the leg. The bell rang for the class to dismiss and the girl who had raised her hand came up to him, apologized and gave him a hug.
I nodded at her, “Thank you!”
The boy with the ripped pants, reached out to another boy as he headed for the door and gave him a hug, “Thanks for not laughing.”
We managed to get the boy’s lighter jacket from his locker and tie it around his waist and I sent a couple of empathetic students with him to the office.
Later I talked to one of the Vice Principles who commented, “This happens some around this time of the year. They hit a growth spurt and their clothes will simply rip. We keep some extra clothes on hand for this reason.”
So how do you deal with an embarrassing situation?
- Be kind and empathetic instead of making fun or joining in the ridicule.
- Cover the shame by reassuring the person everyone has situations like this.
- Find practical solutions to meet the need.
Solomon, a very wise man advised us, “A prudent man covers shame.” Proverbs 12:16