Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Dec 11 2010

Napoleon, Puppy, and the Pube

Two boys in one of my classes were clearly very angry at eachother when they walked into class. To set the scene, one of them has the attention span, the accidental mischievousness, and the good intentions of a puppy. The other one hangs out with the cool kids but is smart and respectful, and his late growth spurt gives him a Napoleon complex type of aggressiveness. They are just close enough friends to talk in class if seated within ten feet of one another.

Throughout the entire class, Napoleon keeps threatening to beat up Puppy. “I’m going to smack him right now”, “He’d better watch out at recess”, “He’s lucky I don’t walk right over there”, etc. Puppy is generally ignoring the situation and I can’t even figure out if the threat is real or if they’re just messing around. I held them after class to find out, because obviously I’m not going to send two kids out to the playground to fight. Especially not if it involves a three-foot-tall kid hitting a puppy.

First they told me it was a joke, but they wouldn’t apologize and shake hands. With eighth grade boys, that means you can’t go to recess yet, sorry. The teacher next door is in the room now, having one of those staged teacher talks with me about how violence isn’t the answer. Then the boys’ argument devolved into a back-and-forth set of accusations. Napoleon kept calling Puppy a snitch. Puppy kept saying random things back, but refused to admit what the problem was. Finally, I convinced him to say it, and he blurted out, “NAPOLEON STUCK A PUBE IN MY MOUTH!”

[Freeze. What? A pubic hair? In your mouth? At school? I hate having to keep a straight face.]

Napoleon started laughing. He held out one of those bar code stickers, which happened to have a tiny orange hair-like thing stuck to it. “This?! It’s not a pube! It’s orange! There’s no such thing as orange pubes!”

[This kid's logic is out of control. He's going to be a lawyer one day. Imagine not laughing at this point.]

Then Puppy starts whining that Napoleon told everyone it was a pube. Napoleon continues denying it and calling Puppy a snitch. I roll my eyes and demand apologies so we can end this. Napoleon insists on counting to three and apologizing simultaneously, because neither boy will do it first. They count to three, but Napoleon doesn’t hold up his end of the deal and only says sorry after Puppy does. I decide this argument doesn’t merit any more of my lunch break and shoo them away.

This is my life.

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