When we got back from recess one day in 5th grade, something in the teachers’ world must have caused Mrs. H. to be late getting to homeroom. In our world, something must have happened on the playground. S. and J. were chasing each other around the room, yelling at each other when Mrs. H. walked in. S. was the superintendant’s daughter, so Mrs. H. chose the collective guilt discipline method. We had to write ten pages of why we should have proper manners in the classroom. I didn’t think writing that would be a problem for most of us, since 28 out of the 30 of us were doing just that when she walked in.

I took any writing assignment seriously, so I took my time and made sure my words made my message come alive.

The next morning, she went down the first aisle, picked up six of the reports, went back to her desk, and slowly tore them vertically in half, one by one, over the trash can. She ceremoniously did the same for the next five aisles. I don’t know what lesson she was trying to teach. I just know what lesson I learned.

Sometimes it’s hard to know which people will do that to you, so I don’t always know when to use that learned lesson.

You can marry into a family, be yourself, and do your best. It doesn’t mean that you will be seen before you’re discarded.

But it does mean that you did your best.