Thursday, October 29, 2009

Friday, September 03, 2004
One of the weirdest things about middle school is how big and how little the kids are at the very same time.

It is the strangest time in a person's life, maybe. I have a student-- Justin-- who does absolutely nothing in my class but sneer at me. He is a total "tough guy" who can't even be bothered to misbehave. He just glares and huffs and stares at the ceiling in a silent, seething rage while I go on and on about main idea and predicting outcomes. When I call on him to answer a question, he will pretend that he hasn't heard me. When I push, he gives me the evil eye until I move on. So I called a meeting with his mom.

When I got to the conference room, I was first surprised that his mom was an attractive, young professional woman seemingly in her mid-thirties. She was very unassuming looking and greeted me pleasantly. I was surprised by this because many of my students parents are as threatening as their children. When I called a house last weekend, the mom of one of my students said, "What the @!%* are you calling my house on a Sunday for?"

I was secondly surprised by the state young Justin was in. His little brow was furrowed and there were huge crocodile tears running down his pink cheeks. He looked about five years younger than he had moments ago in my classroom. As mom and I discussed his bad behavior, his quiet tears turned first to constant sniffs and then to loud hiccupping sobs. His mom didn't yell or anything-- she just kept saying, "Justin? What do you have to say for yourself? Hmm?" And he just kept crying.

Later in the day, I saw him strutting around the hall. He was back to his suave tough guy routine, no trace of his baby tears on his face. We briefly made eye contact and I think we are both a little awkward around each other now. I like to be reminded that my kids are really quite little, still. Even if they are having sex and smoking pot. ¶ 8:30 AM

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