When I was growing up, I attended a small Christian school where we had assigned tables at lunch. One high school boy and one high school girl were assigned as the "host" and "hostess" of the table. It was their responsibility to maintain behavior at the table during lunch. All students had to stand behind their chairs until we were lead in prayer for lunch. Then the boys had to help pull out the girls' chairs. (There was a huge punishment if they tried to get cute and yank the chair out.) When someone was through eating, they had to ask the host and/or hostess if they could be excused. Every six weeks the table assignments were shuffled and you found yourself at a new table. Clicks weren't allowed to form or grow at the lunch tables, everyone was required to mix and mingle with everyone and table manners were taught and required to be used.
Even now I have no problem with this system. While not perfect, it did teach manners and it avoided a lot of problems that can arise in school lunchroom situations. For instance ...
When we came back from Uganda, Matt and Steph were going into ninth and seventh grade respectively. When they enrolled in the Christian school, there were a lot of adjustments to make and a lot of things to learn. One thing to learn was lunch room protocol. They'd been at school for about a week when Stephanie started complaining about the lunch room situation. Seems there was a "cool" table in the lunch room. And she wasn't included at it. The cool table was for the older kids. The cool kids.
Seventh Graders were not cool.
So Stephanie decided to take matters into her own hands. She determined that the next day she would sit at the cool table. She would force her way in. Obviously she didn't think it through completely. After all, you can't force people to view you as cool. And no matter how wrong the cool click was ... well, her plan didn't go so well. The cool crowd made it clear she wasn't included.
In comforting Stephanie I reminded her that she doesn't have to be accepted by the cool people to be worth something in the eyes of people that really matter. And really, most of the kids at that table were disliked by everyone else in the school. I told her to remember what she was feeling at that moment. Because she wouldn't be in seventh grade forever. Someday she would be at the cool table. And it would be important how she treated other kids, not just her peers at the table.
You know, Stephanie got to the point where she was well liked by just about everyone in the school. There were snobs above her in class and snobs below her, but they all liked her to some extent because she was friendly with everyone. Something she might not have learned had she had access to the cool table.
Life so often hands us situations that are unpleasant. But somehow it's those situations that help us learn and grow the most. What about you? Is there a situation in your life that helped shape you into the person you are today?
P.S. The winner in my giveaway is ... Amy at Filled With Praise! Congratulations, Amy! I'm send you my copy of The House That Cleans Itself. Hope your house enjoys it as much as mine did!