It’s the end of first semester, which means saying goodbye to the little darlings I have cradled in my teacherly hands since September. It also heralds the deep of winter, a weight gain of at least five pounds, and a heart-felt desire for a snow day. Or two.
The weight gain in inevitable. I have six chocolate bars in my desk at all times, for emergencies. I have an emergency every day at recess and noon, like clockwork.
The snow days? Damn global warming.
The little darlings? I always feel a little nostalgic about my students at this time of year. Don’t get me wrong, they have driven me crazy. They have been delinquent with assignments, they have been rude, they have committed multiple acts of cell phone anarchy… but some of them are just so damn cute, I hate to say goodbye to them. I teach grade 10 and 11. I don’t teach any grade 12 courses, which means that when I say goodbye to them at the end of their exam next week, I won’t teach them… ever… again.
For some, this is cause for rejoicing.
The kid who told me “this is f***ing stupid”? Not gonna miss him.
The girl who rolled her eyes ‘til I heard the ligaments crack when I took her cell phone? Buh bye.
But the kid who named the character in his story “Mike Hunt”, thinking I wouldn’t notice, and who blushed fifty shades of red when I said: “Great detail, intricate plot, but you should change the protagonist’s name to Zeke.”? Gonna miss that kid.
And the one who wrote “Roses are red, violates are blue.”
And the one who bought me a new stress ball after I broke mine, all over my desk, in the middle of a class.
And the one who said “They don’t think it be like it is, but it do”, which made an odd kind of twisted and basically illiterate sense, but we wrote it on a paper and stuck it on the board and it became the motto of the class. (Along with the Beaver of Mercy. Which, really, needs no explanation. Kind of like the Honey Badger. An icon of our times.)
I love these kids.
A classroom is a weird society of mismatched beings. We all float around each other for five months, trying to find something to anchor to, bumping into desks and sharp objects, annoying each other, entertaining each other, bargaining, pleading, cajoling.
Laughing. A lot.
Please learn something.
“Please let us watch us a movie.”
Please do your assignments.
“Please let us eat hamburgers in class… and wear our hats… and text… and throw things at the cute girl across the room because then she will know I love her.”
Please go forth into your lives armed with knowledge and enthusiasm and creativity and the ability to distinguish between then and than.
“Please let me hand my assignment in late because I had to work last night, and my car ran out of gas, and I had a fight with my mom, and my dog puked, and my printer ran out of ink, and it’s on my thumb drive in my friends trunk, and I just couldn’t think of anything to write about, and “do I look like I did my homework?”, and I just forgot, and please give me a fifty, and I promise I’ll have it to you tomorrow… favorite teacher… c’mon… just this once…
Some of them call me LBro.
It’s my rap name.
“They used to call me Libby, because they didn’t know,
How super-cool I am, now they call me LBro.”
Rhymes with elbow. I do gangsta hands, and that skippy shuffley baggy jeans walk that is like, a Totally Rad Gangsta Thing. Or is it “Thang”?
I do that. Because I can.
Hence the eye rolling.
They write to me about sports, and gaming, and their faith, and the loss of their grandfather, and their frustration with labels and their parents and their stupid friends who “care more about their hair than they do about real shit.”
Please don’t write profanity in your essay.
They come to school dressed for the catwalk, or dressed for bed, looking like they haven’t slept for months or looking like they just this minute blew in from the beach and summer and youth itself. I tell them to drink less coffee, don’t smoke, be nice to your mother.
They come to class with chicken and taters and when I look at them askance they offer me some.
“Wanna tater?” Like my problem is just that I’m hungry, and they’re willing to share, so what’s the big deal? As the room fills with the scent of deep fried goodness and their papers are smeared with greasy fingerprints.
I bought them cake. For the last day. Which they inhaled like the wolves of starvation were hard on their heels. And then I asked them to evaluate the class and my teaching, and I told them how sad it makes me that lots of my students complain that the course isn’t relevant to their lives. That my efforts to find interesting content is failing.
“Ms Broadbent, you need to lighten up. We’re teenagers. We don’t know anything, and we say stupid stuff. You’re fine.”
I love them.
They don’t think it be like it is, but it do.
Check out my novel: That Thing That Happened: Available on kindle