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Saturday, March 24, 2007

First Period

I suppose I should write this today lest I wait another week and attribute my current love for my first period class to a bout of temporary insanity. Remember, please, that this is a one-day story of pleasantries and is no way indicative of my actual year-long experience with this class. Remember too, however, that these children are ninth graders and are thus prone to daily vacillations in their behavior.

I, as their teacher, must remember the same thing.

On Tuesday of this week I was perilously close to repeatedly banging my head into a student’s desk. The day wasn’t much different than any other: first period a few students took fourteen minutes to find a pencil; I collected homework to discover that the majority of my students have been lying to me about completion presumably all year; then my second period class decided to “raise the roof” during my attempts to teach and somehow managed to signal the beginning of a human “wave” which swept through my room as I discussed imperialism. The day went downhill from there, and I thus concluded that I would either sacrifice my desire for perfect attendance by getting “sick” on Wednesday, or I would have to show a movie in order to survive the week. As I own a copy of Hotel Rwanda, I opted for the latter and, on Wednesday, preemptively discussed the connection between the Rwandan ethnic conflict and Belgian colonization.

During first period on Thursday, at the midpoint of the movie, I felt myself start to unravel a bit. Despite the fact that I’ve seen the movie twelve times already, the removal of the majority of the United Nations peacekeeping force, coupled with the separation of the Europeans from the Rwandans strangled my idyllic belief that good ultimately triumphs over evil. So, in sticking with my apparent predilection for self-imposed public humiliation, I started to cry. I knew full well though, that if my first period class witnessed my emotional outburst, I would never command their respect again, so I tried really hard to fight off my tears. I expended so much energy attempting to do this, in fact, that I started to sweat and felt my face flush fuchsia. Then it happened: my eyes got wet, and my nose started to run. I tilted my head upwards towards the ceiling and tried to mentally will the tears to stay in my eyes, and the snot in my nose. I knew if I sniffed (which I obviously needed to do) or wiped my eyes with my sleeves, I would attract the attention of twenty-seven pairs of eyes. Such an attraction, in my paranoid mind, would undoubtedly unleash a litany of mini-disasters: the kids would find the undoing of their teacher more entertaining than the movie; I, resenting their amusement at my expense would be forced to act teacherly and mean and turn off the movie; I would be forced to spontaneously invent some type of alternative assignment on the following chapter which I had yet to read, and they would never understand the connection between European imperialism and the mess that currently exists in Africa. God. Please don’t sniff!

But amidst all of my internal pleading, an innocent tear ran down my cheek (bringing mascara with it), and a small line of snot suddenly stretched between my nose and my mouth. It was disgusting. I had to do it. I had to sniff.

The row of kids sitting closest to me uniformly whipped their heads around to look (as predicted), and one of them blurted out, “Ms. Hooks is crying!” (Also predicted.) But then, rather than the predicted sequence of mini-disasters, four of my female students turned to look at me and they were crying too (I have never been so relieved to see other people in tears!). One of my kids stood up to hand me a roll of paper towels (it’s a city school, we have no tissues), and Darrin, whose mom’s phone number is on speed dial in my cell phone, piped up with, “Ms. Hooks, it’s okay – I’m crying on the inside.”

So this is what I conclude: my first period class, while driving me effectively batty all year long, is filled with the exact thing that the movie so pointedly lacks – goodness.

4 comments:

Mark said...

Wonderful.

Liz Bogel said...

Thanks for that. I love your writing; it makes me think of my days differently.

Peter Hirsch said...

Hello Kathleen,
You look like a fine, upstanding individual. I am not actively seeking "someone" - I am actively seeking someone right. There is some type of "X" factor that needs to exist, and if it isn't there, it isn't there. I asked a girl once to tell me something compelling about herself and she couldn't think of anything. I, in turn, beat the living shit out of her.

I'm too content to drink a beer in my PJs on a Saturday night to waste my time. I love beer, good food, socializing and working out, and am both independent and self-aware - two characteristics that I value in someone else. I have a bizarrely high self-esteem, a strong faith, and a genuine love for my students/job, and I hate having my time wasted. I have anger management issues which - while a total pain in the ass - has formed a good chunk of who I am. I used to be a Division III rower, and now I sit around and watch TV. I don't have much patience for people who take their health/mobility for granted.

I am looking for the following (in no particular order):
- Someone who is self-aware
- Someone with intelligence who will allow me to dominate them and will let me do things differently than they have ever experienced
- Someone who is confident in who she is and can make a decision about whether to do the dishes or the laundry
- Someone with a good sense of humor and who brings something unique to the table. Sarcasm preferred.
- Someone with a strong faith (in SOMETHING, preferrably ME)
- Someone with integrity who is true to herself, but doesn't take herself TOO seriously
- Someone I don't have to "fix"
- Someone who I'm attracted to (judging from my me posting here, that doesn't mean much!)
- Someone with a job (see above parenthetical comment)

PS I'm also looking for someone who is a 78% match with my friend TOM since he and I are a 22% match. This means that we should all get together and have 100% of a threesome. My wife will happily tape it. You are an inspiration to me.
-God's Gift

Mike P. said...

The comment by "Peter Hirsch" ranks as one of the worst I've ever seem.

I remember when I saw that movie. I didn't move the entire time.