I came back from the school board, drained of emotions and energy, hating my job and feeling like a failure. I walked into the school at lunchtime, and down the hall, eating an empanada I had bought at the stand outside, and by the time I got to the end of the hall I had 14 students following me.
“Miss K! How could you leave us?! Don’t ever do that again!”
“Where have you been?! It was so awful! We had to go to gym!”
“Were you trying to hide from us Miss K?!”
I laughed, and was suddenly filled with energy again. The little faces around me, all begging for attention reminded me of why I liked the job.
“Oh God! I was avoiding you guys!” I said, laughing.
“NO! Miss K you love us,” said MH, one of my favorite boys. “We’re going to follow you around for the rest of the day, you can’t get away from us!” he said, and then proceeded to do just that.
“Go away! I have work to do!”
“Naw – Miss K is the magnet and we are all just drawn to her,” he said, laughing devilishly, hoping that I would give him candy from my incentive box if he hung around long enough.
I laughed – like I always do. They make me laugh when they aren’t making me lose my voice – and on unfortunate occasions, I do both at the same time. In the middle of a horrific rant at them about their behavior, one of them will do something so ridiculous, so hilarious, that I will have to turn away from them to hide my laughter. As if I could hide anything from them…
“Ah! She’s laughing! She wants to laugh – look at her face, she wants to smile! Ah ha!” I take a deep breath and glare and whichever one of them is insisting on drawing attention to my lack of composure.
At lunchtime, my room is filled with the students, playing out their drama in my room.
“Miss K – what’s her name? The one with the straight hair and the light skin who just left?”
“Aw yea – Serena. That’s my girlfriend.”
“What?! She should dump you – you don’t even know her name!”
“No – we have only been going out since Thursday.”
MH and EB plan to dump their girlfriends. MH doesn’t like his because she wears the same jeans everyday. I have him look up ‘superficial’ in the dictionary. SR comes to my room and tells me about her ex boyfriends.
“Aren’t I too good for them!? Eew – they are so ugly!”
Another girl tells me about dumping her ex-boyfriend (another one of my students) because they went to the movies and he was trying to take it too fast – holding hand and kissing!
One girl covered her paper with “I love you J, I exist to love you.” Hearts and doodles. She gave it to me and smiled sheepishly, wanting me to know about her relationship, that she had spent all of one lunch period talking to me about.
It’s seventh grade, and it’s the same everywhere it seems. Even in the Bronx, where kids grow up too fast, they still hit one another as a way of flirting.
Sometimes I try to shut it out. My room is a mess of papers that the kids have handed in and made into haphazard piles. I have things to grade and projects to roganize and activities to set up.
Some of them waltz in at lunchtime like they own the place.
“We’re here to entertain you!”
“Noooooo – go away! I see enough of you!”
“No way Miss K! We make you laugh all the time! We’re here for your entertainment!”
And it’s true. They do make me laugh. All the time.