Howling at the Moon

Big tears drip off the edge of Maddie’s cheeks. “You always get to do it!” she howls over the noise of twenty-four other children putting away lunch bags and getting ready for outdoor play.

Super Teacher dives into the situation; close but not too close. Maddie is not wearing her mask. “What’s wrong, Maddie?”

The issue is revealed through her sobs. I take a step back instead of forward. Sometimes the battle between comforting versus COVID makes me feel less like a hero and more like an uncaring monster.

“She always gets to put the lunch bags away,” is the charge. A fresh howl.

I focus on the word ‘always’ and observe the other girl returning three lunch bags to the shelf. I hold in my own howl at the action which was meant to be helpful, but is not following safety protocol.

“I want to be the one to put them away sometimes!” Maddie wails, unaware of the possible danger involved.

I swallow the retort regarding her speed and how someone else will always be ready before her and resist the urge to point out her still-open lunch box.

“I’m sorry you’re so upset, Maddie.” Comfort… comfort before COVID. “I see that you wanted a turn to be helpful and kind to your tablemates. That shows your kind heart.” Now, COVID… “But we really shouldn’t be touching anyone else’s lunch bags. Remember, this year we have to avoid touching anything that isn’t our own. It’s not safe. I will tell Avery as well.

I see Avery through the corner of my eye skipping happily out the classroom door to get dressed. Another bubble to burst.

I turn back to Maddie. “Take some deep breaths and pack up. It’s time to get ready to go out and play.” I squeeze her arm near her shoulder. It’s not a hug. It’s a hug she needs.

Overall, the children are more boisterous today. They bring their ‘outdoor voices’ inside and need constant reminders about the noise level in the room. They are quick to get upset, and irritation wins over kindness in many cases during their play.

At the Recess bell, I destroy my well-coordinated winter look with a bright orange sash and head outside to the ‘big kids’ yard’ to supervise the play of the older children. The time flies as I deal with conflict after conflict; at least one in every corner of the large area.

My relief in hearing the end bell is quickly dispelled as I watch a boy punch another in the head. Angry faces; retaliation; foul language shouted through masks — I rush to this corner to break it up. The more aggressive child howling a string of curse words gets my undivided attention, while the other child disappears to the line-up to go inside. I know his name. There will be follow-up.

With his opponent gone, the boy turns to me and continues his verbal assault with a new target. “You teachers never listen. You don’t care!” The accusations went on, seasoned with f-bombs and other colorful words, oozing disrespect. He alternates between howling through his mask and pulling it down to be better heard, and my COVID-danger sensors shriek again.

As I deal with this latest challenge, I can’t help but think how grateful I am that it’s Friday and we have less than two hours of school left to navigate. The amount of tension in the air does not match the sunny, mild winter day.

Some might accuse me of a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts, since I had started my day quite aware that the moon was to be at its fullest tonight. Full moons are never fun days at school.

Werewolves, vampires, and time-travelers going through stones are not the only creatures impacted by full moons. Those of us in the field of education will testify to atmospheric energy shifts in the classroom. For the entire week leading up to a full moon, the children are louder; their behavior noticeably different. At least, it seems that way.

Yet, an internet search of how a full moon affects human behavior does not support this way of thinking. Writing for healthline.com, Rebecca Joy Stanborough (2020) documents that despite nearly 81 percent of mental health professionals believing that this natural phenomenon can make people ill, there’s no real evidence that it does.

She suggests, after considering numerous studies into the matter, “For the most part, a full moon doesn’t cause people to become more aggressive, violent, anxious, or depressed.” There are findings to support that there is a link between the phases of the moon and changes in symptoms of bipolar disorder. There’s also some evidence that a full moon can lead to less deep sleep and a delay in entering into REM sleep. In addition, some studies have shown a slight change in cardiovascular conditions during a full moon. However, she concludes that, while scientists continue to study the matter, it appears the effect of this heavenly body on our earthly bodies is less powerful than most people believe.

If we can’t blame the moon for our negative behavior, who can we blame it on? As humans, we do like to have a scapegoat. We like to find explanations and justifications so that we don’t have to feel responsible for our actions. So often when I intervene in conflicts at school, the accused child starts their first defensive statement with the words “But he…” or “But she…”. In other words, You’re looking in the wrong place here. I’m just responding to the wrong done to me. I’m just reacting to my circumstances. Isn’t that how we often feel when someone points out our less-than-stellar behavior?

God didn’t create the moon to be our scapegoat. Psalm 104:19 reveals His intention.

Throughout the Bible, the Jewish people did schedule many of their feasts and special ceremonies on the new moons and full moons. There seems to be something significant about those days. However, this celestial body does not dole out hall passes to excuse our sin.

Daughters of God, let’s not follow Eve’s pattern of passing the blame; not to our husbands, our menstrual cycle, or the phase of the moon. It is our sinful nature that causes us to sin, and we are responsible for our behavior. When we do slip, God expects us to repent and ask for forgiveness. Similar to my expectations for students, He doesn’t want to hear excuses; He wants to hear genuine remorse in our voice when we promise to try harder next time.

The good news is that God’s love for us doesn’t waver, no matter which day of the year it is. Even during the full moon.

Lord, help me take responsibility for my messes and failures. I repent of my sin and accept Your forgiveness. Help me to represent You well as Your daughter.


Source used: Stanborough, Rebecca Joy. MFA. (2020, September 17). How Does a Full Moon Affect Our Physical and Mental Well-Being? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/full-moon-effects#about

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