“What do you want to be?” a teacher in his late twenties asks the next student. “I want to be a penis player.” The twelve year old giggles. “Take that, stupid teacher,” he thought as he sat down. His friends nearby laughed. “I totally just said ‘penis’ to the teacher. He must be so embarrassed.” The teacher sighed to himself, marks a check next to “tennis player” on the blackboard. This skewed pronunciation of penis was close enough.
Another day, another class, same teacher. “Okay, what is your schedule?” he asks. “I get up at 6:30. I eat black penis at 7:00. I go to school at 7:50.” The teacher pauses. “You eat breakfast at 7:00?” “I eat black penis at 7:00,” the student “”repeats”“. Smiling and proud.
The one thing that I have not quite gotten my head around in these years of teaching is why uttering the words penis or sex is supposed to be embarrassing for me the teacher. I remember when someone in seventh grade said sex instead of six and they did not live that down for a long time. These things happen. The person may not be deserving of the treatment they get, but it happens that way. Still, directing it towards the person at the front of the classroom is just not a connection I can figure out.
Or maybe that is not it. Maybe they just want some attention. Which I cannot give to them in this case, be it positive, negative or even neutral. Basic stuff I am learning as a parent. The attention will encourage. Worse yet, what if I misread the situation and it is an honest to goodness mistake? Now I have helped in screwing the kid up. If anything, my job is to guide them to be whatever sort of human they will be. Not throw them into the mess of my design.
I bring this all up because today a student was screwing with me during cleaning time. He was saying “Goodbye” instead of “Hello.” I know he was playing around, but it was getting a bit annoying. Because he thought it was funny. So he kept on doing it. As I was leaving, he was walking behind me saying “Die! Die! Die!” I turned around, stopped him and called over a nearby teacher to have him tell her what he had just said. He goes “This bucket is so heavy I think I’m going to die.” Which, realizing that I had slightly misheard what he was saying, made a lot more sense.
Whoops. Well, we all make mistakes.