Thursday, January 12, 2012

9th Grade Boy vs. Girl Syndrome (a Parent Primmer)

Hello last day of classes yesterday. Heading into a full week of exam days meaning I come in give the exam, have a couple of hours of quiet to work and then the kids LEAVE early. Throw in several end of semester work days and I feel some afternoon napping coming on.

I even managed not to have to administer or proctor anyone else's exam this semester.


Yesterday I finally revealed a description of something I reference repeatedly in a funny and yes sarcastic way over and over during the semester. Suffering from freshman boy or girl syndrome.

I promise on the final day of class to give the full list of symptoms as well as the cure.

Again, this is done not in a mean way or calling anyone out. I think you should get a medal at the end of your first year of high school for having any self esteem left after for most a tough year. I see one of my sole functions in the classroom is to build them up and hope they leave with some semblance of a better idea of who they are becoming.

As parent to two boys I can tell you now that Ben will suffer badly from this disease. As much I hope I am laying groundwork to curb some of the hallmarks, he is a midget version of most of my freshmen boys. Ian, I fear will be the child that leads his friends in whatever fear producing, injury-filled activity he can imagine. It will most likely involve something used in a purpose never intended.

Freshman boy syndrome- Marked by smelliness, sloppiness including wearing of sweatpants in public or even shorts even on the coldest of days, repeated requests of hat removal will go ignored, earbuds will be hidden in the collar as to listen to music when in the halls or even in class for the non observance or frankly old teachers, backpack resembles a toxic waste dump of stuffed papers, crumbled balls to be used for am impromptu game of trasketball, ownership of a least one bottle of AXE bodyspray required, use also required in heavy rotation to cover up the ever present chili dog smell. When asked questions appropriate responses are "huh, what, are you talking to me", a a myrid of excuses why something has not been completed.

The cure is maturity. these same boys return even over the summer rid of the sweatpants (thankfully) and some degree that the purpose of high school is two fold: to get out and move on to bigger and better as well as social in that girls only are interested in boys who are interested in them more than video games (while in their presence).

Never fear, video gaming will take up hours, and hours and hours of said boy's time. Wearing of t-shirt proclaiming such love will identify you quickly in high school. By senior year these same boys will tower over me, have figured out a wardrobe resembling that of someone with ambition (even just to pledge a fraternity to revert back to Freshman boy status). It brings tears to my eyes to watch this transformation of maturity and social grace over 4 short years.

Freshmen girls- Very, very glad I will never have one inside my own home. I have watched grown men cry in conferences over behavior that my guess is was never imagined when fantasies of walking them down the aisle is more positive.

Cattiness, backstabbing, drama over every conceived miscommunication is played out and out and out some more. I often say that while I know this is super important today, 10 bucks says next week you won't even remember why you were so upset to often crying ladies being consoled in the hall.

Typical attire of fall 2011 has included continued wearing of UGG boots with anything including pjs. My personal favorite look is the knee-high I'm stepping off my sled boots pairs with a mico mini skirt in June. Do they know that the market on smelliness (of the feet) has already been taken by the 14 year old boy. Daily slathering in Bath and Body works products that have names like "amber summer" or "berry explosion" permeate and fight for smell space with the Axe body spray. A resurgence of anything 80s including techno colored skinny jeans and I dare say splatter paint one shouldered Flashdance-esqu shirts have been spotted.

The Cure- also maturity and the realization that while school is two fold: Get out and move on to more mature guys and also that leaving sooner will greatly increase the chance of positive relations with other family members. By senior year it fills my heart with joy to see girls break out of the mold and be original, authentic, and willing to not follow a pack mentality.

I've taught this same group over and over and over for the past decade. Part of why I love teaching students on the starting end of high school is watching what happens in a few short years by the time they leave. High school is just a microcosm of our future adult lives. We want approval from our friends and family, have to learn the hard way through failure, try to meet now self imposed goals, and mostly figure out a way to be happy with the person we are.

Coming back to classes of 35+ kids this fall has been hard but I have realized that I have missed this day to day interacting with them. Online teaching is just a different relationship. One that doesn't come with seeing the end product while enjoying a daily aroma like no other.

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