Friday, January 6, 2012

Heart Hurts

Once I taught first grade.
I put a little boy with thick glasses, lots of home life problems and and an IQ about equal to my current age, in the time out corner.

He was hitting the girl next to him.

He wailed uncontrollably. I was okay, - he had to learn. We don't hit girls. We don't hit.

But the other adults in the room were less tough than my 22 year old self.
"It makes my heart hurt," my aide whispered.

High Schoolers may not be so cute-
But here's my account of today's senior English class.

Millie crumpled up about twenty papers trying to interpret a quote about whatever you get in life you end up paying for one way or another. In the end she turned out to be the only one in the class who diagreed with the quote( actually a valid option)- in a hundred discombobulated words she explained that sometimes life isn't fair some people suffer just because they were born a certain way. She was talking about Lennie in Of Mice and Men. I got it. I'm not sure anyone else would.

I got behind Isiah and prodded. "Get your tuchis" into English."
"What's a tuchis?"
It's your ass, stupid" -helpful volunteer explained.
Isiah wrote five carefully printed paragraphs, more English than Millie's, but he made me check every word as he wrote it.

Ralf watched flies in the room.
"Ralf, it's January - look at your paper."
"I'm writing, Teacherfish, I'm writing, just ....what was I saying?"

Louis, wrote something like - whatever you do in life, there are consequences. Had the page not been written in Louis's heiroglyphic like handwriting I would not believed it was Louis's paper.
But the good luck ran out- and he begged me what to write next.

Kenya didn't write anything. He's on suspension. He called Evan an asshole. I would call Evan an Asshole if I wasn't afraid of losing my pension. I would call Kenya an asshole. I told the friendly administrator last week he is a pain in the ass but he's my pain in the ass.

They make my heart hurt.
But they're not cute anymore.

It was thirtyfive years ago that first grader sobbed his eyes out on the timeout chair.
He made it out of time out in five minutes.
I wonder if he made it out in the world?


  1. My heart hurts too, just reading this. A very young junior counselor Buttercup "made" a little girl, 10 or so eat a bite of scrambled eggs at summer camp. She wasn't defiant, but she really didn't want to do it and spit the bite out and I felt so bad for her. She was so embarrassed and miserable and so was I. Still remember and feel sad 45(!) years later.

  2. I've never worked with high schoolers but it sounds like a very interesting job! What age group do you like better... the cute little guys, or these older ones?