However, after I finished lunch and started the 2 minutes drive back to work, I saw a couple of kids on the side of the road, one hunched over the other one. I slowed down to make sure they were okay when I realized I recognized one of the kids as a student in my CCD class.
I stopped the car and rolled down my window, calling his name and asking if everything was alright. Apparently his buddy took a turn too harshly, and since there isn't any pavement over that area (it's a grassy mess), his bike must've come out from under him and he went careening into the curb.I put the car in park, turned on my flashers and went around to check on him. He wasn't crying, but he was definitely in some pain.
I'm not a nurse or anything, so I wasn't really sure what to "check." So I said, "How far are you two from home?" My student told me they were about 10 minutes off from his friend's house (he was staying there while his mom was at work during break). I cautioned his friend against driving his bike for the 10 minute trek home, but when I asked if he'd called his mother to pick them up, he said she wasn't answering her phone.
So I said, "Alright, we should be able to get your bikes into my car. Just get in and I'll take you home."
As soon as it was out of my mouth, my heart dropped. I remembered the orientation class I'd had specifically instructing CCD teachers never to offer rides home to their students because of child-abuse allegations. Then, when I realized that I felt guilty for offering a ride to these kids, I got angry with myself for even thinking that leaving them there was an option. Then I got doubly irritated that society has become a place that makes this inner struggle a reality.
This thought-process took less than a half-second to run its course, but I'm still grumbling about it. I dropped the boys off after making sure the injured boy's mother was aware of the situation. She was thankfully very nice and it's doubtful she had any concern about me taking them home, especially after my student explained I was his CCD teacher (so not a total stranger). But still... I've now got this nagging worry that I'm going to be either reprimanded or, God forbid, accused of something.
I realize this is the stupidest worry ever, but is it really all that far-fetched? How horrible are we as a society that good samaritans can no longer feel free to help a child on the side of the road? How horrible is it that children must fear every single person they come across?
I should honestly be happy that I got to help a kid out today. I should be doubly happy that my student was there to witness what it means to be Christ's Hands, and how he helped Divine Providence along (a theme we've talked a lot about this year). Instead, I'm worried that me helping the kid into my car could be misconstrued as touching him inappropriately. I'm worried that the Director of Religious Education is going to find out and chide me for being negligent. I'm worried that if my student recounts this story to his parents that they're going to wonder if I'm stalking him or something.
Seriously - how the heck did our world get so messed up that anyone should end up thinking this way about the simple act of helping a kid?
What the heck?
And how many teachers / priests / coaches go through this thought-process on a daily basis regarding things like hugging a student, having students after hours in their office / room going over a project or paper, even offering a student a quick ride home on a rainy day when you know the kid walks a mile and forgot an umbrella?
And I wonder how much easier I must have it being a woman. I wonder if that boy's mother would've been just as grateful if it were a male teacher bringing her son home...