My “Other” Kids (better late than never)

Despite my mom’s best efforts, I’m still terribly forgetful about little polite habits like remembering to promptly introduce two unaquainted parties in a conversation circle.  So, true to form, I’m just now getting around to introducing you to some of the funny little ones in my LAST class of fourth graders.  I had so much fun with this post last year, I can’t believe I forgot about it until now.

Meet Needykins 6.0: Compared to the 2010 model, last year’s Needykins could be the mascot of Simon and Garfunkel’s “I Am a Rock, I Am an Island.”  Every time I turn around, Needykins is there with a status update (and, as our classroom does not abide by the rules of Facebook, there is no character limit).  For example:
Me (giving a spelling test):  “Boundary.  A fence marks the boundary of our back yard.  Boundary.”
Needykins: “We have a fence around our back yard.”
Me: <Nods, puts finger to lips to indicate “no talking during a spelling test.”>
N: “We used to not have a fence, but our dog Rolly, who is a daschund, kept escaping out the back door.  Then she would run down the street to our neighbor Mrs. Santos’s house, and she would feed him the leftover bacon and Rolly became overweight and started getting back trouble because she was not supposed to eat scraps from the table.
Me:  <Stern look, head shake>
N: “Oh, look! I accidentally started to write boundaries, and I put an i instead of a y at the end of the word.  Oh, how do you connect a cursive u to a cursive o again?.”  <a nearby student surreptitiously corrects his incorrectly spelled word>
Me, in a quiet and gentle voice: “Shh.  Do your best.  And no talking during a spelling test, please.”

N’s big blue eyes fill with tears, and her bottom lip begins to quiver at the humiliation at being called out in front of the class.  Besides, didn’t I care about Rolly?  And didn’t I want her cursive to be precise and perfect?  All she ever wanted was to share her life with me and do exactly as I wanted!

Pass the tissues to Needykins, and the Red Bull to me.  It’s one of those days.

Meet the Goldfish: Every day is a new adventure for this young man.  His short term memory lasts for about half a nanosecond.  A conversation with Goldie goes something like this:
Me: “Get out a sheet of paper and put a heading at the top.”
G: “Wait, what?  We were supposed to bring paper?”
<a friend mercifully shoves a piece of paper in front of Goldie>
G: “What is the date?”
Me: “May 7.”
G: <has gotten distracted> “Wait, what?”
Me: “May 7.”
G: “Okay.”  <writes M-a-y>  “May what?”
The whole class: “MAY SEVENTH!”
Me: “Please diagram the sentence I have written on the board.”
G: “Wait, am I in language arts?”

Meet Mr. AARP:  Every year brings me a senior citizen ahead of his time.  Last year I had Grumpus; this year’s Mr. AARP  is more like a good natured, slightly eccentric grandaddy.  He likes to tell long corny jokes, holding up one finger as he finally, slowly reveals the punch line.  He’s got trivia for every topic.  He loves to recall memories from his childhood (“Back when I was in kindergarten…”).  If his meticulous school papers are any indication, Mr. AARP will grow up to have a really clean garage and will do his crossword puzzles with an ink pen.  Between his great work and always-interesting contributions to our class conversation, Mr. AARP is in my good graces.  If he can ever learn to start pulling quarters out from behind my ear, he can lock in Teacher’s Pet for sure.

Meet Mr./Ms. Anything-You-Can-Do,-I-Can-Do-Better: Look out, fifth grade teachers: there are actually several kiddos who fit this stereotype.  They’ve made one-up-manship into an art form.  If someone gets a laugh from the class with a clever sentence about a chihuahua eating ice cream, you can bet this kid’s contribution will be about a flaming chihuahua eating ice cream while walking on a tight rope suspended above ravenous Bengal tigers.  If someone comes to class claiming to be related to Napoleon, you can bet money that Mr./Ms. AYCDICDB will unearth newly found evidence that he or she is descended from the Duke of Wellington.

The Substitute Teacher: She stands near my elbow, at the ready should I need someone to help pass out papers or run tell the office that the A/C won’t turn on.  She’ll fly over six rows of desks when I casually say, “Would someone shut the door?”  She can double-check assignment details in her homework planner (“Yes, you did tell us to use three quality adjectives in our final drafts,”) and takes delight in getting the other twenty students in a straight and quiet line for recess.  I imagine if I left her in charge of the class for ten minutes while I made a run to the soda machine, I’d return find her perched on my stool, playing the guitar and leading the class in rounds of “Do, Re, Me.”

Meet The Rest of the Pack: Speaking of no limit on characters, I really do teach an extraordinarily funny bunch of ten-year-olds (and since I only see them for an hour a day, they’re still funny to me, even in May). What  a lucky teacher I am!


3 responses to “My “Other” Kids (better late than never)

  1. I am so glad you remembered to write this annual column. It is one of my favorites!

  2. LOVE IT!!!

  3. Carolyn Dickinson

    I agree! One of my favorites, too!

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