This past Friday, one of my 7th grade students- “the original tough guy” if you will, was having an especially rough day. He was giving every one of his teachers a hard time, and I was lucky enough to have him for the last class of the day. He came into my room with nothing- not a pencil or book to his name. I walked him to his locker, at which point he proceeded to alternate between sprinting ahead and jumping to reach things like exit signs and ceiling tiles. Luckily at 4’11”, these things are still out of reach, so no damage was done. At his locker I instructed him to get a pencil and a notebook, which he grudgingly did. Back in my classroom, I surprised him by telling him to go in the empty room attached to mine, sit quietly, and complete a writing assignment.
“I’m not writing.”
“I don’t want to write. This is stupid.”
Now, this could have gone on for hours, but I’ve had him as a student since kindergarten. Even on his worst day, he will do what I ask, or at least pretend to. After giving him my most serious glare that said, “Look buddy, I’ve known you since 5K,” he gave in.
“Okay, I’ll write a little. About what?”
In a nutshell, I then told him that I couldn’t believe how bad his behavior was. I told him it was especially disappointing to me since I knew the truth about him… that he was really a nice kid, trapped in the body of a tough guy wanna be. My instructions followed, “Write down no less than 8 sentences explaining to me why you are being so bad today. I want details. Also, don’t forget to use correct grammar and punctuation.”
I then left him for ten minutes while I worked with other students.
Well, before I knew it, it was five minutes before dismissal, and my student was in the doorway to my classroom. He was throwing his notebook up in the air, a sign I took to mean he was done.
“Here.” He handed over the notebook.
I was shocked to see half the page filled with legible text. What he wrote surprised me even more.
I’m being a jerk because I’m hyper.
Also, I am waiting to go to a party this weekend.
Plus, the teachers make me mad when they tell me what to do.
I also hate being on the no pass list.
It’s finally spring, and I can’t stand being inside this school one minute longer.
It’s sunny and really, really warm today, and I just want to go outside.
What do you say to that? Hello, I could have written practically the same thing to explain how I felt that day. I think the little wise-guy could tell this as I was reading it, so I tried my best not to smile or laugh as I responded. In my best hard-ass voice, I told him that even with all of that going on… he still needs to be nice to people. We all want to go outside… but you gotta be nice. Thankfully, the bell rang seconds later, and he sprinted out of my room.
I followed suit twenty minutes later, as I joined the other teachers in a mad dash to the parking lot. I wanted to get home as quickly as I could so I could run in the glorious 70 degree weather. It seemed that everyone and their brother had the same idea. My route was flooded with runners, walkers, cyclists, skate boarders, and strollers. I took note of just how happy everyone was, and thought of the many things that were contributing to my own happy 5 miles. First reason being that it was Friday. Then, of course, I was loving every aspect of the warm weather- from the sunshine to the ice free sidewalks. It was great to be running in shorts and a t-shirt again instead of gloves and layers. Bottom line though, the run signified relief. It was a relief that the winter, albeit a mild one, was finally over. True, we could still get zapped by a snowstorm, but for the most part we are being let out of our winter prisons and into the light of spring. Which is a good thing, because like my student, I think we all just “really want to go outside.” When something cold and dark, like winter, goes on for a long time, we get to the point where we think we can’t bear it another minute. Then, before we know it, it’s over and spring is here to make us happy.
So friends, always remember that no matter how bad the winter is, spring is always right around the corner. Be ready for it by keeping the door and your running shoes in clear view, so you can get to them the moment the first signs of spring appear. And, if it takes longer than you expect for it to arrive, do what you need to get through the winter… just don’t forget to be nice to each other.