Schools in Poland are set up differently than those in America. Rather than hanging your coat on a rack in your classroom, when you first enter the school there is an area with a group of cages, one for each class, in which you leave your coat. You also leave your shoes there.
Every day the kids change into "school shoes". They take this separate pair of shoes, which is usually canvas or some other light type of shoe, in a special bag (which can be bought to match your backpack), change near their class' "cloakroom" and leave their regular shoes in the bag, which they hang by their coat.
The janitor lady locks up the cages after the bell rings and opens it again before school lets out. (this means that if your kids are late they may have to run around looking for the janitor to have her open their door) Different classes let out at different times, and sometimes classes take trips outside and have to change shoes and put on coats etc. so occasionally the cages are open during classes.
This, of course, is all very strange to me. It's a pain in the neck in many ways. Of course it's a good idea in some respects. I mean, imagine walking down the hall at school and not going through all the slush people bring in during the winter. The problem is, it only takes one or two parents or teachers to walk down the hall in wet shoes and then all the kids' clean school shoes are muddy, too.
But whatever. That's how they do it here and I stopped complaining about it after Evie's second year in school (see how good I am, only complaining for two years about something I can't change!?!)
There is, however, another problem. Stuff gets stolen and lost very easily. David has "lost" a couple of nice sweaters, a pair of good new gloves and a pair of (cheap but new) school shoes over the course of 2 1/2 years. Ewelina? Well, she's "lost" a number of items of clothing and two pairs of shoes. Good shoes. Good, new shoes.
Sorry about this tangent, but I can't really stand girls' shoes these days. They are ugly, most of them. And the ugliest ones of all are those that I'm sure I would have died to have when I was Evie's age. Fashion and it's cycles.
Anyway, last year we bought Evie this (ugly) pair of shoes that she was just in love with. They were the most expensive pair we've ever bought her (we're cheap though, so they weren't that expensive). She wore them for a couple of weeks and then they disappeared. From the cloakroom. Into thin air.
She was somewhat devastated. It was cold enough that we just had her wear her winter boots, but when spring came again we finally got her a replacement pair. Shiny red low-tops that she also loved.
A week or two later and the red shoes disappeared, too. Nothing we have ever lost has ended up in the lost-and-found. Thin air, I tell you.
Yesterday after school Evie called Greg (who was getting ready to go pick her up; we don't rush and the kids sometimes wait an hour or so for us (him) to come. Again, every class has a different schedule so there are always some classes still going on and it's very normal for other kids to just be hanging around)
This time Evie didn't want to wait. She told Greg to come as fast as he could. Why? Because she had just seen the janitor wearing her old shoes (the first pair that went missing)!
Those were not a style of shoes a forty something cleaning lady would wear. Unless. . .
Ev and her friend were looking at the shoes and whispering. When the janitor noticed them staring she left right away. A little later they saw her again and she was wearing the slippers she usually wears around the school.
What a range of emotions I feel about this. The shock and upset that I felt initially wore off pretty early on and is now mostly covered by pity and. . . regret? I just feel bad for her.
I sort of would like to approach the lady. Maybe I would say she could keep the shoes (obviously), but could we please have back the leg warmers that were in the bag with them, which Ewelina's aunt knitted specially for her?
Greg is planning on talking to the principal. I definitely understand this. They really shouldn't have a thief working on grounds. Especially not one with keys.
But I can't help thinking that maybe talking to her would be enough. I don't know. Maybe not, if she has a lucrative stall in the outside market where she sells like-new children's shoes and winter clothing.
Basically when it comes to the "justice" part of the whole thing I'm a little torn (let her keep taking other children's things? Probably not a good idea), but there is no question about the mercy aspect.
Evie was very upset when she got back from school. She really misses her shoes. She is very angry with the janitor. I talked to her about how understandable that is. Then I asked if she knows what Jesus said we should do in such situations. She didn't remember.
Well, it turns out he gave quite a similar example. I quoted that "if any man . . . take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also."
I suggested Evie take a pair of socks to school and offer it to the janitor.
She didn't think this was funny. Or poignant. Or anything other than a little annoying. But I think she's coming around. Sometimes forgiveness takes a little time.