Meet Elias. Blessed with an uncommonly stable home life, Elias is confident and very smart, but lacks perspective.
Elias is chubby, but called another girl in my class fat for asking for a second orange and made her cry. Elias runs down the hallway looking like a cross between Napoleon Dynamite and a very old woman, but swears he "rules the court" in basketball and trash talks anyone in my class who says differently. Elias is the last one to follow directions or cooperate, but insists on being first for any kind of reward or incentive.
And today, Elias spilled an entire carton of milk on his lap.
He had already been having a bad day in my class. He walked in class long after the bell rang, then raised the pitch of his voice about four octaves when I told him I heard the bell, and he was late. "You're deaf, then!" he shouted. I said "WHAT?" about forty times before telling him to sign the tardy log.
Elias pouted about that for a while, but soon decided that pouting was insufficient and morphed into Elias, Destructor of Happiness. When one of my students began telling me about her new niece, Elias yelled, "You think you all that 'cause you got a NIECE? I got fifteen, real talk." Then after tripping my most docile student on her way to the trash can and informing my class that a different female student of mine was probably asking to go to the bathroom so that she could "take out her teeth and clean them in the toilet" (???), Elias was primed and ready for a write-up. Suddenly, Elias produced a carton of milk leftover from breakfast from his backpack and opened it.
"I know you're not about to drink that milk, sir."
Elias took a sip. He raised one eyebrow defiantly. I'd had enough.
"Put the milk down and wait for me outside," I said with all the controlled fury of Teacher Voice.
Then, something magical happened when Elias stood up. Somehow, the milk on his desk didn't simply knock over and spill, but flew. It flew, and, in flight, projected its contents directly onto Elias's lap. Immediately, he was standing, arms raised with the palms of his hands facing me, the very posture of surrender, with a dark milky stain running from his crotch down to his knees. His face looked exactly like this, the thought of which is making me laugh even as I type this:
My class howled. One of my students, who is constantly teased by Elias for being obese as well as an English language-learner, practically screamed with excitement, "ELIAS PISSED HIS PANTS!!! LOOK EVERYBODY!!" I was practically biting through my upper lip to avoid smiling, but finally got it together.
"Settle down, everyone. Elias, go to the restroom." He stumbled awkwardly to the doorway and ran out.
During the next class (which is my off period), I called Elias's mom to explain what happened and suggest she bring a clean pair of pants up to the school. I've spoken to her many times about her son's behavior, and luckily she is very supportive of me and the rest of his teachers. She's really funny, too.
"Ms. Smith, I have one last question," I said. "Do I have permission to remind Elias of the milk incident the next time he makes fun of another classmate?"
"Girl, you didn't even need to ask. Hell, you can call him 'Two Percent' til June if you want."
P.S. In case you are worried about Elias's feelings, I went to check on him an hour later and he was already back to his normal self, joyfully swatting the legs of hallway passersby with a cable tie.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Today I had my students listen to an audio clip of part of one of my favorite MLK Jr. speeches, "But If Not." I'm sure there are other things more directly related to the state standardized testing that I should be teaching, but as far as I'm concerned, MLK Jr. > a packet on the history of rodeo clowns.
After reading and listening to the speech, one of my students asked what I would be willing to die for. Almost without hesitating, I said, "I would die if it meant seeing every one of you with nothing holding you back."
And unlike times where I've been asked things like,
"Miss, what kind of liquor do you drink?"
"Miss, which religion it right?"
"Miss, who's more fine: Justin Bieber or Zac Efron?"
and I've either lied or withheld my answer, this time I said exactly what I meant.
And I was sure of it.
"I say to you, this morning, that if you have never found something so dear and precious to you that you will die for it, then you aren’t fit to live.
P.S. Zac Efron, OBVIOUSLY.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
I have good news:
-Vesuvius is not horrible yet, and has a backpack with the word "Bazoongi!" written on it. I've cleared off a space in my living room for him to live once I kidnap him.
-Half of my first period is failing my class because they didn't believe me when I said I was going to take off ten points any time I saw "anything ridiculous" in their papers (emoticons, text lingo, January being spelled "Jerunery lol" in the heading, etc.)
-My 7th period is reading a novel. At one point, one of the main characters is talking to the other and says, "People live in boxes, LaVaawwwwwwwwwwn." My class has adopted and subsequently become obsessed with this piece of dialogue. It gets said at least 10-12 times during class, in response to anything from a student saying, "Can I borrow a pencil?" to me saying, "I'm begging you to shut your mouth." And it makes me cackle every single time.
-One student was whining excessively about how hot it is in my room this morning, so I finally said I would talk to the custodian IF he (the student) could describe the heat using a metaphor. After several minutes of thinking, he raised his hand.
"Miss, it's so hot that down my pants is lava."
I sat down pretending to email the custodian, but I typed out his metaphor on a blank Word document so I would remember it forever.
People live in boxes, LaVawwwwwwwwwwwwwn.
Friday, January 7, 2011
I have a new student named Vesuvius. (His name is not Vesuvius, but for anonymity's sake, just know that his name is something equally ancient and ridiculous). He is polite and I love him. He is Hispanic, about four and a half feet tall, and mostly looks like he's about to cry. This is how our conversation went today:
Vesuvius: Hello. I mean, good morning. My name is Vesuvius.
I was shocked. My new students never introduce themselves to me, and my current students only say good morning after I shout it at them first.
Me: .... Hello, Vesuvius.
Vesuvius: I am new here.
Me: Welcome! Where are you from?
Vesuvius: Before here, New Mexico, before New Mexico, Pennsylvania, before Pennsylvania, Washington, before Washington, North Carolina, before North Carolina, West Virginia.
Me: Are you also from ancient Rome?
Me: Nothing. Is someone in your family in the military? Like, is that why you move around a lot? No?
Vesuvius: (doing the "about to cry" look). I don't know...
Me: Don't worry about it! Let's find you a seat.
Also, Vesuvius is wearing a Transformers coat.
If you hear on the news about a teacher arrested for kidnapping one of her students, don't be surprised when it's me.
P.S. Wouldn't it be funny if this kid turns out to be horrible?