This is not always fun.

March 5, 2010 at 2:58 pm 2 comments

It’s taken a while, but I’ve finally built up a pretty decent relationship with one of my juniors. I’ll call her Queenie, which is (naturally) short for Drama Queen. She’s one of those students who you’ve been warned about, told to never be alone with. She’s from a good family, has pretty clothes, is a pretty girl with a healthy physique.

Sidenote: I have a Facebook account, a clean and school-appropriate one, and my students know about it. If they Friend-request me, I’ll accept. I’ve found that it’s a better communication tool than email for a lot of students, and that it promotes mentoring that I can’t get to in the classroom. Queenie is one of my few CHS Facebook friends.

Lately, Queenie has been worrying me. My spidey-sense started tingling when she started posting on Facebook about how tragic anorexia was, and linking to websites. At first everything was very “the horrors of eating disorders.” Then other things began popping up. She told a friend that she eats only 400 calories a day. Mentioned doing 2,000 situps one Saturday. Things like that.

I began paying attention in class. During recreational reading time, she chose a memoir of a teen with eating disorders. It was the second book on the subject she’d read this year. I realized that she came into my class (right after lunch) and sat down for no longer than twenty minutes before asking to go to the restroom. If I refused, she’d get panicky. If I consented, she’d be gone too long for urination, come back looking upset, and go straight for the breathmints. She looks tired, with puffy eyes, all the time. Meanwhile, her Facebook status updates increasingly included cryptic statements that could easily be interpreted as comments on her weight and weight loss.

There’s all that. And on the other hand, I’ve seen no change in her weight. And I know that she’s a drama-monger. I could just see her making stuff up on Facebook to sound melodramatic. As for the restroom visits, maybe she’s just got a shy bladdar and waits until too late to ask a teacher for a more private, during-class visit? Maybe she’s fishing for sympathy from someone?

As the evidence mounted, I decided that things had passed the point where I could “wait and see.” As a teacher, I am in loco parentis. I have a moral and legal responsibility to do something about this sort of thing. So I contacted the school psychologist and the school nurse, and we had a sit-down, and they were really very concerned.

So now we’re moving into position, trying to be as delicate as we can, because we all know how serious this can be and we don’t want to screw this up – whether she is actually bulimic or not. The nurse kind of knows her mom, and knows Queenie pretty well; she’s going to try to broach the subject. I’m investigating with her B-day teacher that she has right after lunch, to see if she exhibits similar restroom behavior there.

It strikes me as odd, and sad, that there isn’t already a plan or a program in place for this. I’m pretty sure that I’m the first teacher to ever talk to them about a student with a suspected eating disorder. Our school is only about five years old, but since about 1% of all teenagers suffer from an eating disorder, I’m sure Queenie isn’t the first. Can I really be the first teacher to have noticed a potential problem?

I went to college with a girl who was hospitalized for months at a stretch to treat her anorexia. I know that it is an addiction, and that like any addiction it is best treated early on. I may lose this girl’s trust over this, may lose our good working relationship, may get de-Friended. I have to be okay with that. If I’m right, this is much more important than any of that.


Entry filed under: STUDENTS.

Curses! Foiled again! Lacking Community

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Maestro  |  March 5, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    It sounds like you’ve talked to sll the right people and doing everything you can. And you’re right – better to be de-friended than to have stood by and do nothing.

  • 2. Sarah  |  March 7, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    Good for you for acting on your instincts! If she really does have a problem, she’ll thank you later!


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The Bee’s Knees

This is the teaching journal of a student first-year second-year THIRD-YEAR (!!!) English teacher. I am writing this blog as a reflection for myself, a way to keep friends and family updated, and a sharing-ground between other educators online. I love comments!

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