A little something for Katie's kids:
(ca. 1999, driving back to Grinnell with my father)
Him: ...blah blah blah blah meth meth blah.......
Him: I'm serious.
Me: You're on crack is what you are.
Him: Crack? You mean like crack cocaine? Do you know about the dangers of crack cocaine?
Me: (snort) What?
Him: You know, crack cocaine, a form of cocaine that you can smoke... crack cocaine is very dangerous.
Me: (suppressing giggles, wiggling my fingers in the air) Crack cocaine....
Him: Crack cocaine kills. You only have to smoke crack cocaine once to get addicted, and you could die.
Me: (giggling harder) Please stop.
Him: Crack cocaine is not a joke.
Me: (starting to lose it) Ha ha ha ha! Crack cocaine!
Him: I don't understand what's so funny about crack cocaine!
Me: (tears of laughter) Dad, please, you have to stop saying "crack cocaine!" I'm dying here!
Him: You would be dying, if you were smoking crack cocaine!
Adventures in Middle School
Brad: Why are you making us pick numbers? What is this for? Why do we have to pick numbers?
Me: Brad, chill.
Brad: I can't. I can't. I need to know why we're picking numbers.
Me: Just take a deep breath and relax.
Brad: No, no. You're going to trap us. How are you going to trap us. You're going to trick us into doing something awful.
Me: Am I the kind of person who would trick you into doing something awful?
Entire Class: YES!!
Me: (thinking) Oh, I guess that's true, actually. Sorry about that.
Dale: No you're not!
Me: You're right. I'm really not.
Jack: (whispering) Ms. Backes wants to be in the If-You-Talk-I'll-Kill-You-Gang!
Me: Oh, I love that gang!
Jay: Ms. Backes, I have to tell this story!
Me: Go for it.
Jay: Okay. When I was little, I was really scared of the gremlins, because I was watching a tape of my parents wedding, and I fell asleep, and when I woke up Gremlins was on TV and I thought they were at my parents wedding! I thought they were real!
(The kids are mad at me because I put them in a seating chart. How dare I! The gifted kids! What nerve!)
Me: Here's a hint: "You" is ALWAYS second person. "I" is always first person....
Andrew: Or is it?
Andrew: (melodramatically sad) I don't even know who I am, without my friends to tell me about myself.
Me: Ask them at lunch.
PA: Staff, this is just a reminder that there will be a staff meeting after school.
Jay: Are staff meetings totally awesome? Are they like a party?
Me: Um, no. They're lame. But sometimes we get food.
Jay: Do they give you shrimp?
Jay: Do they give you WINE?
Tanner: How do you spell surfing?
Angelique: How do you spell DUH!
Xander: Ms. Backes, did you know that only one in a billion people is as smart as I am?
Jay: Did you know that that's not true?
Me: In the next few weeks we're going to be talking about violence in the media and our society, and about community building.....
Darleen: Violence? I'm good at that!!
Me: (walking up to kids working in the hallway) What are you gangsters doing out here?
Andrew: (gasp!) That's not nice! We're going to give you ISS for that!
Andrew: You'll just sit there in a room all day and grade papers.
Me: Awesome. I could use a day like that.
Andrew: Okay, you'll have to sit in a room all by yourself grading MEANINGLESS papers!
Me: Sounds like my life!
Andrew: (gasp!) My papers aren't meaningless!
Andrew: My papers are important! I'm the future! ......at least, that's what the commercial said....
Me: (pointing to a poster about adverbs featuring a stick man running away from three long lines) He's running away from the lines.
Andrew: They show that he's going fast. Quickly. Running quickly, because it's an adverb, you know?
Me: He's running from the lines because he's scared. They go, RAWR!
Andrew: Lines don't go rawr, they go wooosh.
Me: They do if they have teeth.
Andrew: Ms. Backes, do you want me to draw teeth?
Me: (happily) Yes.
Andrew: (presenting the poster) The man is running quickly. Or maybe he's running... fearfully.
Stan: Question. Why do those lines have teeth on them?
Andrew: I don't know. I actually have no idea. No one does.
Lizzil: Why are they there, then?
Andrew: Ms. Backes told me to draw them.
Me: The man is running away from them. They're chasing him. They go, rawr!
Jerrod: I like adverbs!
5th period, a couple of kids (punks-ass kids who I JUST got on my side!) fixed my pencil sharpener for me. It had been ripped off the wall when I was gone, probably by my 4th period class.
Funny thing, though, they put it on upside-down, so now it's a lefty-sharpener.
Watching kids try to deal with this was like a psychology experiment. Can the little monkeys still manipulate the tool if it's slightly changed?
6th period this girl completely freaked about it.
Rae: Your pencil sharpener is RACIST!
Me: What? No it isn't.
Rae: Yes it is!
Me: Why, because now it favors left-handers? That's not racism.
Rae: It's racist racist racist!!
Me: Really, it's not.
(10 minutes later)
Rae: Your pencil sharpener is RACIST!
Me: Rae. The only way it would be racist is if it only allowed people of a certain color to sharpen their pencils.
It's one thing to ask the kids to take pity on you because you're sick. It's quite another to ask them to be nice to you because you can't stop slamming your fingers in the door and biting your cheek (three times, hard!) It's not just thoughtful concern. It's sheer unfiltered pity.
Accordingly, sometimes my students look at me with such kind looks, much like you'd look at your increasingly senile grandmother, while internally debating whether or not you should ask her if she still remembers how to take a shower by herself, or maybe she needs help holding a fork now. It kills me.
I get these pitying looks when I can't find something and am wandering around the room going "Where's my pen? Where's that paper? I JUST had that paper!" or when they patiently ask me the same question for the fourth or fifth time and I say, "Right! THAT question! I was going to answer that question for you!"
Or, like today, when I was reading Margaret Atwood's poem The Puppet of the Wolf and acting it out, primarily for my own amusement. ("And then the wolf -- her right hand -- eats the piglets on her left hand! Rawrr rawr mmm gobblrahh!")
The janitor who cleans my room reminds me of the house-elf who lives at Sirius Black's house: she wanders around, muttering weird things about people just loud enough so we can hear. To be honest, I'm a little afraid of her.
Ali: The midwest has tainted me.
Me: You mean enhanced.
You know, I kind of like it here. I kind of like these monsters. Maybe I'll stay awhile....