One day after school, a group of young ladies stroll down my hallway with little secret smiles on their faces. I see that the inevitable hug is coming. I screech, “Gack! Why are you hugging me? You know how I feel about hugs.” I actually don’t mind them, but if you respond in a negative way, then they tend to want to thwart you. Reverse psychology strikes again.
They laugh, “I know!” and hug me harder. What has happened to my authority? Why won’t they listen? These girls and I have established our own brand of rapport. One young lady in particular would come and see me during morning tutorials during her sixth grade year even though I wasn’t her teacher. She accidentally left her flower ring in my room, and I wore it for the rest of the day not realizing it was hers since I found it later on. The next day, she showed up asking about my new ring. I had to return it to her, but I threatened to charge her rent the next time. She didn’t leave anything else behind, so I never got my money.
I taught a young lady who loved to play hockey who I wound up calling “Mama.” She’s apparently pretty good. Mama was one of the toughest girls I knew who rarely cried or got upset. There was not an ounce of drama in her body. Mama had my same dry sense of humor, and it was a sad day when the last day of school arrived. She reminds me of a former student who is on the junior varsity football team at my son’s high school. That young lady and I would exchange words about whatever evil plans she had for her older sister. I didn’t teach the gridiron girl’s sister, but I do have legacies in my classroom; these are students who have an older sibling who’s been in my class before. They walk in knowing that I will make a connection about the older sibling but treat them like an individual. I do this because I haven’t any idea how my younger sister fared with me leading the way. I hope her teachers remembered that we were individuals with different personalities, talents, and gifts.
I’ve got Soccer Divas this year. Any time I mention soccer, they perk up. I have a magnet that looks like a soccer ball. We have battles over who gets to have it on her desk. Any self-respecting soccer player needs to avoid these young ladies on the field. They look adorable but will demolish their opponents. Don’t let the ponytail and fresh-faced enthusiasm fool you. They want to have an indoor soccer game in my classroom on the last day of school. I put the kibosh on that little plan.
Years ago, I had a group of girls who wanted to be called the “thug girls,” so I obliged. Each one was as sweet as she was smart, and they liked being picked on, too. I taught a small Pre-AP class where all of the girls had brown eyes, so I called them my brown-eyed girls. They are high school juniors now. One of those girls was called “Bookworm” because she ate any large book she encountered, and she wrote a sixteen-page short story. Yes, I read every single word.
And now about that sibling I mentioned in the previous post about boys. She would write in her evil journal devising schemes, plots, and revenge on her older brother. I would have to make sure that she didn’t “steal” her journal by taking it out of the classroom on journal days. She called herself the Good (Last Name), but I will refer to her as the Good Child. She loved free write days or the one day I said, “Write about how you plan to take over the world in five easy steps.” Her maniacal laughter made me fear for big brother’s safety. I see her in the hallways periodically when she stops by to tell me of a new plot to get Mr. Baseball. I shake my head as I laugh at the Good Child. I will always want to know what is happening with her, too.