Christopher is one of my favorite students. He is one serious and suspicious dude. If he's not looking right at you with a very serious expression, he's eyeballing everyone around him with a mixture of contempt and skepticism. I have a friend Andrew who, at any place we venture, is picturing the most dangerous situation possible: a sniper on the roof of the library, a Wal-Mart greeter-turned-arsonist. I have a feeling Christopher is constantly sure that his classmates' pockets are full of spiders, or that I'm actually a vampire.
On the third day of school last August, I was helping a female student, when suddenly she stopped talking and looked directly over my shoulder. I turned around. Christopher.
He stood behind me, blinking. I waited for him to say something.
"... Hey, Christopher!" I finally said, breaking the silence. "What's up?"
Christopher scanned his eyes on the floor from left to right before speaking.
"Elias stole my eraser."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes." He said it with a twinge of offense, as if I’d asked him, “Are you sure you’re wearing clothes right now?”
"So Elias is using your eraser?" I asked.
"No, he put it in his backpack. I know he did."
I looked over at the defendant. Even by the third day of school I'd figured out Elias was a cray-cray, but at the time he appeared to be working steadfastly.
"Hm,” I said. “What did the eraser look like?"
"White. It had a mark in the middle."
Just then, I started laughing. I moved in closer and whispered,
"Christopher, are you holding it in your hand?"
He looked down at his hand, made this face, and walked away.
By the way, I am laughing hysterically right now. Christopher's "whoops" face looks remarkably similar to Nicole Kidman's.
Anyway, I've been spending a lot of extra time with Christopher lately in tutorials. On top of needing tutorials, Christopher doesn’t have too many friends, so I try to make our time together extra fun to get him to loosen up and enjoy what he's doing. On Thursday, I let Christopher go to the main office to retrieve the after-school snacks provided by our school to kids in tutorials. Customarily, the adult supervisor includes an extra juice and crackers for whichever teacher is holding tutorials. But that afternoon, after Christopher returned and distributed the snacks to his classmates, there were no leftovers. I gasped and pretended to be horrified.
"Christopher, I'm hungry," I said. I pounded the desk with my fist. Christopher did the Floor Scan with his eyes.
"I'll go get you another one," he mumbled.
"No, I want yours," I said. I wanted to see how long I could keep him going. "I want your snack. Give it to me." But then, with a face like the most stoic Indian chief, Christopher looked at me and said in a very stern, very loud voice,
I began to howl. I tried to stop laughing 2 or 3 times, but would just start all over again as soon as I’d stopped. The rest of the kids in my tutorials rolled their eyes.
"Christopher, I'm sorry-- I was just messing with you."
He half-smiled for .5 seconds and said, "I know." Then he went back to normal Christopher-- all business.
Later that same afternoon, I had them do an activity in punctuating dialogue called Silent Conversation that I picked up from a colleague. Basically, it's note-writing back and forth with a friend, but written as dialogue in third person. Super fun. I demonstrated the activity by passing around a piece of paper with the question, "'What's your favorite color?' asked Ms. Teach." at the top and let the kids silently write down their answers. Then I told them to get in pairs and continue the activity on their own. Because Christopher didn't have a partner, I paired up with him and began the Silent Conversation.
"'Christopher, I want to know why you 'forgot' my snack. I know you did it on purpose,' said Ms. Teach in accusation." I passed the pen and paper to Christopher. Without skipping a beat, he picked up the pen and began scrawling.
"'Ms. Teach, I did not forget your snack,' said Christopher. 'Maybe you forgot to remind me.'" He did the short-lived half-smile and slid the paper over to me.
"'Christopher, your sass!' exclaimed Ms. Teach. 'I'm giving you four zeros.'" I showed him the paper and smiled at him. At that point, the tutorials session was just about over so I told everyone to start picking up their stuff.
"Wait," said Christopher. He picked up the pen and started writing again. He passed me the paper. He had written the following in huge, dark letters.
"'YOU'RE FIRED!!!!!!!' Christopher screamed. Then he laughed and ate a sandwich.'"
I nearly threw up I was laughing so hard. I wish Christopher could do a guest blog... I think it's safe to say it would be the most outrageous thing any of us have ever read.