The Duality of My Nature
The duality of my nature, courtesy of Little Miss S, 7th grader.
So don't be mean to me. Cause I'll be mean to you. I can hear
you all clamoring, "Tell us a story, Hillbilly Mom, about when you
were mean to someone!" Oh...if you insist.
Tuesday, I was standing in the doorway between classes, minding
everybody's business, and I turned to look into my classroom,
which is always a good idea, because you never know when you
might catch a kid using the GermX as hair gel. And what did I
spy with my all-seeing eye? A 10th grader sitting in MY CHAIR
behind MY DESK who had taken MY STAPLER out of MY
DRAWER and was clicking MY STAPLES into his hand.
You could hear the sharp, collective intake of breathe as the
other students saw that I saw. It was like a herd of gazelle at
the watering hole sensing that a lion had just walked up. I
bellowed from the doorway: "WHAT DO YOU THINK
YOU ARE DOING?" And the kid kind of stammered,
"Uh, well, um...I was getting some staples."
"Uh, well, um....I don't know."
"Don't you EVER sit at my desk or go through my things!"
By this time the bell had rung, and he slunk back to his seat.
I hardly ever go off like that. Once or twice a year. But nobody
sits at my desk but me. It is a control issue. I kind of felt bad,
because my moment of desk rage had passed. He's not a bad
kid, just a little different. He is usually timid. He wouldn't say
"Boo" to a...well...to a person who said, "Say 'Boo' to me."
So I told him. "See what you've done? I've had to be mean
to you. And I really don't like to be mean to you. But you
are not going to sit at my desk and get into the drawer without
permission, and waste staples to throw at people. Is that
I think he might have had a tear in his eye. I felt kind of bad
until I remembered that he had been sitting at my desk
stealing staples. But everything was fine. He went back to
being his weird boo-less self, and I went back to being nice.
And we all went back to picking on the 9th grader who drums
his hands on his desk and sticks his butt out when he walks.
We are not exactly a lab school for political correctness.
We might need some sensitivity training. But 99% of the
time, we co-exist just fine in our little microcosm.
OK, now here's my "nice" story. What's that? You say you
didn't ask for one? Well, sit back down! You're hearing it
Once upon a time, last week, my class of mostly 9th graders
were actually doing what they were supposed to. Which is
working and not bickering and backtalking. So this one kid,
my pet if I had a pet, which I don't, but it would be him, needed
something round to draw for his ITEC paper. Another kid gave
him a quarter.
My nonpet finished drawing it, looked at the kid next to him
with kind of a Tom Sawyerish gaze, and said, "Have you ever
rolled a quarter down your nose?" He looked at me and raised
an eyebrow. Oooooh! I love to play a prank on a little pest.
I joined in.
"Not just anybody can do it. It's kind of hard."
"I've never tried it. But I bet I can."
"You have to close your eyes, that makes it harder."
The kid proceeded to jam the edge of the quarter between his
eyes, and let it go. Now usually, you tell them to hold it and
roll it down the middle. The quarter leapt off the end of his nose
onto the desk. Another kid behind him looked up.
"Let me do it. I know I can. C'mon. Let me have a try."
My nonpet picked up the quarter and said, "Here, let me fix
this quarter for you." He put it on his notebook and circled
around and around it with his pencil. The nose-roller turned
around to the begging kid.
"It's harder than you think."
"That's just because your nose is shaped funny."
Then the beggar saw the black mark between the nose-roller's
eyes, and said, "Uh uh! I'm not doing that."
The older kids had been choking, trying not to give it away.
One said, "Man! I can't believe they'd never heard of that."
I told them, "Since you have all been working so well today,
tomorrow maybe we can play some 52-Card Pick-Up, and
plan a Snipe Hunt for the weekend."
And of course one of them said, "Can we really?"
It is such HARD work preparing these kids for life.