Melly, wait! Rose called out, but Melly was already past her, so she went back to the lunch table. Amanda, what are you doing? Thats not nice.
Amanda tilted her face down to hide her smile, but Emily and Danielle stopped laughing, their faces reddening.
I didnt do anything. Emilys lower lip began to pucker, and Danielle shook her head, with its long, dark braid.
Me, neither, she said. The other girls scattered, and the rest of the kids hustled out to recess.
You girls laughed, Rose said, pained. Thats not right, and you should know that. Youre making fun of her. She turned to Amanda, who was wiping off the jelly with a napkin. Amanda, dont you understand how hurtful youre being? Cant you put yourself in Mellys shoes? She cant help the way she is, nobody can.
Amanda didnt reply, setting down the crumpled napkin.
Look at that bulletin board. See what it says? Rose pointed to the Building Blocks of Character poster, with its glittery letters that read CARING COMPASSION COMMUNITY, from Reesburghs anti-bullying curriculum. Teasing isnt caring or compassionate, and
Whats going on? someone called out, and Rose looked up to see the other lunch mom hurrying over. She had on a denim dress and sandals, and wore her highlighted hair short. Excuse me, we have to get these girls out to recess.
Did you see what just happened?
No, I missed it. Well, Amanda was teasing and
Amanda interrupted, Hi, Mrs. Douglas.
Hi, Amanda. The lunch mom turned to Rose. We have to get everybody outside, so the kitchen can get ready for B lunch. She gestured behind her, where the last students were leaving the cafeteria.
See? Time to go.
I know, but Amanda was teasing my daughter, Melly, so I was talking to her about it.
Youre new, right? Im Terry Douglas. Have you ever been lunch mom before?
So you dont know the procedures. The lunch moms arent supposed to discipline the students.
Im not disciplining them. Im just talking to them.
What ever, its not going well. Terry nodded toward Emily, just as a tear rolled down the little girls cheek.
Oh, jeez, sorry. Rose didnt think shed been stern, but she was tired and maybe shed sounded cranky. Shed been up late with baby John, who had another ear infection, and shed felt guilty taking him to a sitters this morning so she could be lunch mom. He was only ten months old, and Rose was still getting the hang of mothering two children. Most of the time she felt torn in half, taking care of one child at the expense of the other, like the maternal equivalent of robbing Peter to pay Paul. Terry, the thing is, this school has a strict zero-tolerance policy against bullying, and the kids need to learn it. All the kids. The kids who tease, as well as the allies, the kids who laugh and think its funny.
Nevertheless, when theres a disciplinary issue, the procedure is for the lunch mom to tell a teacher. Mrs. Snyder is out on the playground. These girls should go out to recess, and you should take it up with her.
Can I just finish what I was saying to them? Thats all this requires. Rose didnt want to make it bigger, for Mellys sake. She could already hear the kids calling her a tattletale.
Then Ill go get her myself. Terry turned on her heel and walked away, and the cafeteria fell silent except for the clatter of trays and silverware in the kitchen.
Excerpted from Save Me by Lisa Scottoline. Copyright © 2011 by Lisa Scottoline. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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