Memories…Light the Corners of My Mind…

…And Also Make Some Nice Blog Fodder On This Freezing Saturday Afternoon.

Yesterday, I wrote the many ways in which this blog has supported me through tough times. Judging by the scant number of comments, I’m thinking that perhaps I laid the shmaltz on a little thick. (Or maybe, just maybe, that you had better plans than my sick, pregnant self on a Friday night.) (I hope it’s what’s behind door number two, but you never know.)

Regardless, all the reminiscing got me thinking about the whole Big Boy situation. (Boyfriend demanded more of my patience than any other Naughty Boy in Naughty Boy history.) I realized that while I had pumped you full of my rants, I neglected to tell you about my relatively happy ending. I’m not quite sure why. Maybe I wanted to avoided sounding like one of those cliche teacher stories who always ties things up in a neat little bow and somehow manages to save every child. Because as much as I would like that to be true, it’s not. Maybe I was too wrapped up in the drama that was leaving behind a place that I had loved and hated for so many years. Or maybe I just forgot because summer started and I was tanning. (I hate to admit it, but three may be the lucky winner. I mean throw in a fruity cocktail and can you really blame me?)

Honestly though, I still don’t know if I would say my year with Big Boy had a “happy ending.” With children who have so much damage done to them, are so challenging in the classroom and push you to your very limits, it’s sometimes hard to tell how much you got through and if you did get through, how long that impression will last. I guess you just need to keep your fingers crossed. I do know that the end of the year was a million times better than the beginning and that I hope third grade is treating him well and he is continuing to grow.

GET TO THE STORY WOMAN! (Man, can I drag out a story or what? No wonder Mr. Mimi needs to gently remind me to stay focused while gritting his teeth and forcing a smile. I’m not sure he always thinks my round about yet hilarious way of getting to the point is as charming as he used to. I figure he already bought the cow…)

SO! Here is one of my BEST moments with Big Boy.

Picture it. Field Day 2009. It is literally raining cats and dogs. The gym is filled with disappointed children and teachers, exhausted from planning the most amazing outdoor field day ever for the last week only to come to work in the rain and run around like crazy people trying to “make it work” indoors because if one child complains, just one child after all this work, they just might run outside into the rain screaming like a banshee.

I paint quite a picture, don’t I?

I am partnered with another teacher’s class and we are in the middle of a very fabulous relay race. Seriously, tons of indoor fun despite the near deafening decibel levels of my students’ screams of joy. In between rounds, my Super Colleague, in a moment of desperation, excuses herself to run to the ladies. Knowing my obsession with pee as well as my sympathy for my younger colleagues with less developed “holding it” muscles, she knew it was fine by me.

However, the second she is out of sight, her class quite literally loses their shit. I’m talking children who were three seconds ago yelling in support of their classmates and displaying beautiful sportsmanship have now deteriorated to name calling, cheating and some we-don’t-think-she’s-looking shoving. But, oh my little friends, Mrs. Mimi is always looking.

I dispense a firm warning.

We continue. More cheating. More shoving. More name calling. Wait a minute, are they calling my friends names? Oh no you di-in’t

I hand out a firmer warning and throw in a teacher look for good measure. Well honed over many years, my students know to tone it down when they see “the look.”

We continue. Cheating. Lying. Pushing. Cursing.

Okay. That’s enough. I did not bust my behind to pull off the most last minute yet fantastically fun indoor field ever to have you curse and be an all around spoil sport during the five minutes that your teacher is in the bathroom. Period.

I ask the offenders to please sit out for this round. I tell them why they need to sit out and that they may rejoin the game during our next round as long as their negative behavior stops.

We continue. I weather the angry glares and dirty looks of disgruntled students. (Believe me, I’ve handled worse from some of my co-workers.) My Super Colleague returns.

Later that day, while my friends are at lunch and I’m laying on the floor of my classroom on a pile of clean trash bags (Dude, there is mouse pee EVERYWHERE…I was desperate, but not insane. Don’t judge if you’ve never worked a field day before. I have two words for you – fun but BRUTAL.) willing myself to get up and continue with the Tons of Indoor Fun when my phone rang. It was the office. Big Boy was in trouble. He hit some kid in my Super Colleague’s class and can I please come down and deal with it.

My day was just getting better and better.

I go down to the office, ready to deal with Big Boy. Secretly I’m super disappointed because he had had a great morning. Usually days like field day, and by that I mean days in which you must have a great deal of self-control if you have a penchant for being out of control, are tough for Big Boy. But he has been nothing but supportive of his classmates, positive and a great example of sportsmanship. As I walk down the hall, I’m sad that he has apparently blown it.

Long story short….the kids from my Super Colleague’s class had some choice words about me. They were not pleased that I had asked them to sit out. They decided to shout their feelings at the top of their lungs on the playground. Big Boy heard them and asked them to stop. When they did not stop, Big Boy went to a recess aide. When they continued with their Rants Against Mrs. Mimi, Big Boy took the matter in his own hands, and beat the snot out of them.

Is it wrong that I was smiling a little on the inside? I mean he did ask them nicely and tried to get an adult involved before he decided to defend my honor.

I asked him, “Big Boy, what were you thinking? You know it’s not okay to hit other people. You could have really hurt them.”
To which he replied, “I know Mrs. Mimi. But they were saying mean things about you and it made me mad. I love you. You listen to me. I didn’t want to listen to them.”

COME ON! What am I supposed to say to that?

So, despite our year long battle of wills, Big Boy and I had a moment. Was the rest of the year all flowers and sausages? Um, no. But when I think back on my time with him, wondering if I did things right, if he made enough progress, if he really ended up having a good year, this is what stands out in my mind the most.

How’s that for a surprise shmaltzy ending?

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  • That is so adorable that he defended your honor. You know, in an inappropriate way, but still!

    Thanks for sharing the schmaltz. It keep me going when I have "Big Boys" in my office week after week! I hope for my schmaltzy moment sometime soon…

    January 9, 2010 at 9:22 pm
  • I love stories like that. I teach 12th grade English and am a very challenging teacher and constantly spout off about college and "The Real World." I felt very gratified this year when a student who graduated last year called me. It was after her first day of her Freshmen college English class, and she called to tell me that college English was just like I had told her! "The professor said he didn't want to hear our excuses. We have to put our name on a certain corner of the paper, we have to do multiple drafts, read more than one literary piece at a time, and have to turn in work on days when we're not in class. It's just like your class!" Needless to say, I was very happy.

    January 9, 2010 at 11:35 pm
  • I just found your blog and am loving it! I have had my fair share of Big Boys in my short career. I'm the "nurturing" teacher that the first grade teachers and admin peg for the "difficult" kids each year. I can totally relate to your ordeal. I always pray to just make it through the year and then when the year ends it's bittersweet. I do know that they look a lot cuter from across campus 🙂

    January 9, 2010 at 11:35 pm
  • Oh, that is wonderful. And he tried to do the right thing by involving the recess adult.

    January 9, 2010 at 11:35 pm
  • I am so glad that you posted this story! I found your blog just as you were leaving the classroom and throughly enjoyed yesterday's reminiscing about all that I had missed, especially the Big Boy story. I apologize that I didn't comment yesterday!

    I JUST had a similar experience yesterday with my Big Boy, who is in fact the smallest Grade 8 on record, but I digress. My class asked when our next field trip was, we have had 2 so far this year and have a 3-day overnight trip planned for February. I said I didn't know because I planned the fall trip which wasn't well attended and neither was the early winter trip planned by a colleague.

    Now before I continue you should know we have 11 classes of Grade 8 students so finding a place that will take us all plus the planning of said trip is a ton of work, as I am sure you are aware.

    I then proceeded to tell them that we might not have any other trips because the principal deemed the first 2 too poorly attended to warrant us doing the work. This led to a discussion of the fact that I didn't want to plan another myself, but perhaps another teacher did.

    My Big Boy (aka Little Boy) piped up and said, "That's okay you do way too much around here as it is. Someone else should do it!"

    Loved it.

    January 10, 2010 at 4:32 am
  • That made me cry like it was a Hallmark commercial. I hope my own naughty boy does something so redeeming this year.

    January 10, 2010 at 4:32 am
  • Oh, I KNOW there are people who don't want to hear anything but rainbows and kittens from teachers. You had "anonymous" – I had Sharon. (My friend Andrea called her a stalker.) I think if more people knew what teaching is really like, they'd stop begrudging us summers "off" and snow days/delays. (What with all the frigid weather we've been getting on the East Coast, that's the latest anti-teacher rant of my non-teaching friends.)

    I only discovered your blog in August, so thank you for a list of your previous Best. =)

    January 10, 2010 at 4:32 am
  • I love that kid. The past three years, I have a few of those 🙂 They are horrid and awful and rotten sometimes (and tells me how horrid, awful, and rotten I am in no uncertain terms), but dude…the SECOND someone else says I suck, it's game over. Little knights in tarnished armor… *happy sigh*

    January 10, 2010 at 4:32 am
  • How can you get mad at that? So sweet…in a I'm going to punch your teeth out kind of way.

    January 10, 2010 at 4:32 am
  • Just goes to show that our students really, REALLY view our classrooms as a family… I hope he got a REALLY good sticker from you.

    January 10, 2010 at 4:32 am
  • Hey, considering he often has behavioral issues, the fact that he was polite at first and then asked for adult help is pretty major! Even the fact that he felt the need to intercede and didn't join in on the Mimi-bashing is pretty awesome in my opinion. Too bad he went a bit too far and got himself in trouble as well. (Though secretly I'll admit those other kids kind of sound like they deserved it.)

    January 10, 2010 at 4:32 am
  • Thanks for wrapping up the Big Boy story – I really didn't wonder what happened to him.

    Yesterday my "special friend" said to me for the 99th time, but can I just tell you something — deep sigh with thoughts of now what -Yes, N, but make it quick — "You look really pretty today, I like that sweater." They really can pull your heart strings! Later in the day when he absolutely refused to put snow pants or boots on and therefore went outside unprepared (principal let him go out that way) my heart was less happy – but we did have a moment.

    January 10, 2010 at 4:32 am
  • I LOVE this story!!!

    January 10, 2010 at 4:32 am
  • Don't we all love the "big boys"

    January 10, 2010 at 4:32 am
  • Don't you love it when you know you have reached them?

    January 10, 2010 at 4:32 am
  • Being a teacher of only Big Boys, and high school aged at that, I hear you loud and clear. I had a kid 'vandalize' my vehicle this fall by writing "#1 teacher" in window paint. You take your miracles when you can get them, and if they care enough to defend you the only way they know how, then you're doing the right thing.

    January 10, 2010 at 4:32 am
  • Love it! I know I would have felt the same way. Those are the great moments. The ones that keep us sane when nothing else can. Oh-and I just read yesterdays post. I missed it somehow. 🙂

    January 10, 2010 at 4:32 am
  • It is so great to see a happy ending.

    I think things like the class meeting are the things that teach the "intangibles." Without those, the academics don't do much good.

    January 10, 2010 at 5:38 pm
  • How sweet of him! Now, how do you punish that?! I know you have to, but poor guy. Defending your honor, asking them to stop, and asking for adult help.

    January 11, 2010 at 5:20 pm

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