This story below shows how exploring different perspectives makes life easier when there's a conflict. Read the three perspectives below or on Tiki-Toki with the other stories as they develop. Note: At the time of writing this post, there is only one complete story (and it's not so very complete) plus a handful of ideas for other overlapping timeline stories.
The Flying Football
The Flying Football: The Playground Monitor
The weeks before the summer holidays are the busiest, the kids are outdoors almost every day. It means I get work, but there's a lot of playground for the two of us Playground Monitors to cover. We aren't allowed to patrol together, we have to be in different places, so it's kind of tiresome only having the kids to talk to all lunchtime, and they are so demanding, the girls hang onto us like we are their mothers, telling stories on each other over and over again. The boys at least keep out of our way and play football, but then they crash into each other and get into fights more. There's never a dull moment on the playground, huh.
On that day the first thing I knew was the girl who was screaming her eyes out. She was pointing at the tall skinny kid in shorts. He was just standing there, grinning. The girl was crying and her face was bright red. She said the boy had kicked a football into her face. I could believe that, her face was so red. [Boys are so clumsy] I walked over to the boy and grabbed him so he couldn't run away. He was shouting something, making excuses I expect. I didn't want to deal with him, so I took him to the Head, she could deal with him. I left him in the hallway, shivering in his t-shirt and shorts. He was probably scared. Good.
The Flying Football: The Headteacher
When I saw him standing in the hallway outside my room, he looked a little scared and far too tall and skinny for the shorts and t-shirt he was wearing. The Playground Monitor had asked me to talk to him about what had happened in the playground. She had told me of the girl who had got so hurt that she had to go to the School Nurse.
I called him into my room and stood him in front of me. I asked what had happened and he replied "Nothing". [Typical], I thought, and asked him to explain why the girl had been crying. "She got a football in her face", he replied.
"OK, how did that happen?" I asked, expecting the usual long excuse. "I kicked the ball," he said, "and the wind took it and it flew across the pitch, and hit the girl in the face."
"You kicked the football into the girls face?" I asked, getting upset. [Nobody should have to get a football in their face, not even if you are playing football.] "No", he replied calmly. "I didn't".
I paused. It seemed to me that there was something different about this. Perhaps, perhaps this had been an accident. He seemed more shocked about what had happened than afraid of what punishment I might give him.
"Do you like playing football?" I asked.
"No", he replied, "I don't. It was the others who were playing, I just kicked the ball when it came towards me. I wish I hadn't".
"You don't play football?" I inquired again, I wanted to be sure.
"No." he replied adamantly, "Never. I play catch, sometimes.".
"So, you didn't kick the ball AT the girl?" I sought confirmation that this had been an accident.
"If I was that good at aiming, maybe I'd play football", he responded wryly. [Is he pleased about what he did?].
"So what would you say to the girl who got the ball in her face?", I was fishing for his feelings about what had happened.
"Sorry?", he offered. "I tried to tell her I was sorry, but she was crying and screaming and the other lady grabbed me and brought me here." he ended matter of factly.
[Some punishment is due here]. I picked up the cane and showed it to him. "You know that you should get caned for this?", I inquired. "Hold out your hand", I tested him further. He looked at me, and then the cane, and then back at me.
"Do what you need to do. I know I have done nothing wrong," he stated, holding out his hand and looking at me with a look of resignation.
[He's innocent] "Well," I added slowly, lowering the cane. "It seems to me that you are speaking the truth, and have done nothing wrong.". He continued to look at me, waiting for my next move.
Oddly, it felt like he was in charge of this moment. "You can go." He paused, lowered his hand, then after a few moments of connection, he let go, and left the room.
The Flying Football: The Child
The ball bounced towards me. One of those beachballs. I kicked it! "Blooter". Away it went, up into the air arching over the heads of the other kids playing football, they turned to follow the arc of the ball as it crossed the pitch and landed "Whamp" smack in the face of a tall girl who had been skipping at the edge of the pitch.
She stood no chance. The ball flattened onto her face with a splat and bounced off, leaving her bright-red-faced and teary-eyed.
[That must have hurt]. "Soooooory", I called out, but she was in a full flood of tears, screaming and crying and getting attention from one of the ladies who watched over us at lunchtime.
"Oh no," the lady was headed my way, [Shall I run? No, Why?].
I got grabbed "You naughty boy", she shouted at me... "I'm taking you to the Head" she shouted as she dragged me by the arm towards the school. [This was not going to be fun].
I was standing in the hallway when the head came. I'd become cold from coming indoors from the summer heat and was not feeling so good about what had happened, and had no idea of what might be coming next. The Head looked angry; or was she tired? I got called into the room and stood in front of her.
She asked me what had happened so I told her, "Nothing". When she asked me to explain why the girl had been crying, I told her, "She got a football in her face". She wanted to know more. "OK, how did that happen?" she asked. "I kicked the ball," I told her, "and the wind took it and it flew across the pitch, and hit the girl in the face."
She got angry "You kicked the football into the girl's face?"
[I'm scared and sad] "No", I replied calmly. "I didn't". There was a pause. This felt different to when I did things wrong at home. Mum usually knew if I'd been naughty, or if I'd just fallen or whatever.
She asked me another question "Do you like playing football?"
"No", I replied, "I don't. It was the others who were playing, I just kicked the ball when it came towards me. I wish I hadn't".
"You don't play football?" she inquired again.
"No." I replied adamantly, "Never. I play catch, sometimes."
"So, you didn't kick the ball AT the girl?" she seemed to be asking for something more than just the details. A naughty thought came out of my mouth
"If I was that good at aiming, maybe I'd play football". [Oh shit, that was naughty]
"So what would you say to the girl who got the ball in her face?", she was definitely fishing for something.
I took a guess, "Sorry?" "I tried to tell her I was sorry, but she was crying and screaming and the other lady grabbed me and brought me here." [True enough]
She picked up the cane and showed it to me. I knew what canes were for. "You know that you should get caned for this?", she threatened "Hold out your hand".
I looked at her, then the cane, then back at her. [Is this really happening?]
Then a bold voice came from deep within "Do what you need to do. I know I have done nothing wrong" . I held out my hand and waited.
She lowered the cane. "It seems to me that you are speaking the truth, and have done nothing wrong.".
I continued to look at her waiting for her next move. Oddly, it felt like I was in charge of this moment.
"You can go." she said. I paused, lowered my hand, then after a few moments of connection, let go, and left the room.
I enjoy speaking with people about coaching and teaching. Do you have an hour to invest in a learning conversation?
Click on the button to see when I am available, and book a call. Let's talk.
I am a teacher, a business-owner, a public speaker, a coach and an author.