I loved teaching middle school. That age group can be quite challenging, but they can also be so funny and creative. However, there are certain places you don’t want to go alone - like the mind of a middle-school boy. There have been times I wondered if they were losing it or if it was me. And somewhere along the way, I became a “mom.”
You need to be well-organized to keep a class moving along, but for some reason, getting the class started proved to be quite difficult at times. We teachers had to sign off on each child’s agenda before the class could begin. Every single, doggone day of the school year, the directions were exactly the same in every class. (1) Write down homework in agenda, (2) Get out last night's homework, and (3) start assignment written on the board. Easy, right? But this seems to be about the time when their minds suddenly go blank, and they can’t hear. There’s just too much for them to remember: write down homework, get out homework, start assignment.
This one particular day, a student who always had to be reminded to write down his homework, was really testing my patience. In response to my having said it THREE times and waiting right there beside him to sign off on his agenda - he startled, turned in his seat towards me with this shocked expression on his face and said, “The dingo ate your baby," like even HE didn’t know where that came from. Yes, it takes a certain kind of person to teach middle school …
I got to another group, and one of the boys was staring absently around the room. What transpired next was mentioned at the dinner table that night when he said to his parents, “Ms. Wakefield made me miss recess today to clean her wall!” “Why? What happened?” “My pen exploded!"
Now this is a myth that some middle schoolers believe … that pens spontaneously explode. They can’t seem to put 2 + 2 together. Pen in mouth + chewing = Mouth full of ink. Nooooo, they look at you like, “How? How? How did this happen?!"
So his parents came in after school, and I provided them with the one piece of crucial information their son had conveniently left out. A simple mathematical formula: Throw pen + at hard wall = pen explodes. What did he think they were going to say? That I was wrong? That pens really do explode on their own? Do they?
But, I suppose, the time that really took the cake involved, yet again, another middle school boy's inability to write down his homework. After I repeated to him, “Please write down your homework! he said, and I kid you not, ”Okay, Junior” and made a clicking sound from the side of his mouth. Now, this was where things turned from bad to worse: I said, “Don’t call me Junior” to which he responded, “Okay, Mom.” As I turned away, I muttered, “You can call me Junior.”
And that’s how I unwittingly became a middle school mother.