There are 3 girls in the 8th grade who are pregnant, and two who had abortions. Ms. G is teaching about sexual reproduction, and has to hold herself back from pausing and saying “Pay attention! Don’t you want to know what is happening in your body! Aren’t you curious about how this happened to you!?” Sex is seeping out of the pores of these students. I remember middle school, when every word has some sort of innuendo attached to the point where asking to borrow a pencil or even saying the word ‘it’ would bring giggles to everyone around you. This is a different type of sexual tension. Their jokes are every bit as ignorant as ours were, but not nearly as innocent.
They live their lives on fast forward. The eighth grade dance is the last school dance for the majority of them, who will not have a senior prom, and many of whom may not even have a homecoming. Another teacher described it to me that the music goes on, the lights go down, and they start dancing. “The girls put their hands on the floor, their butts in the air, and the guys stand behind them and they all dance. Your job is to circulate and ensure that no one has sex at the dance.”
They give out condoms in the nurse’s office, which is probably prudent, though like all things it is abused at times. In class the other day, 2 students brought 40 of these condoms, with little foil packets of lube to accompany them. They wasted no time in laying this all out on the desks, and talking loudly about what a big weekend they have ahead of them. Of course, these are 2 boys who have been slated to be transferred out of our school into a District 75 school, which is fully special education in highly restrictive environments. But, for the moment, their socio-emotional disturbances are a blessing bestowed upon my class everyday, and I have to figure out how to address the misbehaviors of students who simply don’t care.
Me: Put those away.
J and R: Hahahahahahahaha. Alright Miss, chill out. Relax, relax.
Me: Seriously, put those away, this is not the place for those.
J and R: You want one, Miss?
Me: No thank you, I want you to put them away.
J and R: hahahahahahahahaha. NO.
I walk away and try to ignore them but they get louder and more disruptive, offering them to other students in the class. Finally I have to do what I had been trying to avoid.
Me: You need to give those to me if you can’t put them away.
J and R: Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaw, oooooooooooh Miss – why? Mr. M doesn’t have his own!? (this allusion is to the fictitious relationship that I have with another teacher which has not lost the interest of the students even remotely, no matter how determined I am to make it un-fun to tease me about)
Me: (ignoring that ridiculous question) You shouldn’t have them in class, you aren’t putting them away, so I’m confiscating them. Give them to me.
J and R: Naw – miss – I don’t know if they are even the right size for him – hahahahaha (they crack themselves up)
I am biting my tongue to keep from laughing at their antics, which is all they want me to do.
Me: Give them to me, or put them away, or I am going to call the principal to take them.
J and R: Miss K – relax. Relax.
They don’t put them away, of course, and I go to call security, assistant principals, principals. Of course, no one answers, and so I have a fake conversation for their benefit with the dial tone on the phone: “yes, they are disturbing the class and being inappropriate, would you mind calling their homes for me? Yes, of course I’ll right it up.” They are pretending to ignore me. When I hang up and return to teaching, it is silent for a couple of minutes, and I think I won, until suddenly R springs up from his seat and shouts, outraged:
“I got ripped off, these are too small! I needed JUMBO and these are too small!!!!!!”