Mondays are always the worst for me. I’m like a member of the Jamaican bobsled team, crammed into an impossibly tight space with three other guys, none of us quite sure what the hell we’re doing, hurtling uncontrollably—inexplicably—to our fate. From the moment the first bell rings, I’m running after (more like being dragged behind) the sled. And yesterday, that sled was empty. Of 10 aides, we were down by five. I might normally be suspicious since next week is winter recess, but it’s too early to be calling in faux sick.
Just to give you an idea of my mind-set this week, I have been counting down the periods until vacation since the first bell. Sixteen to go …
So, I got to my first class late, for which I was punished with a fire drill. Did I mention I live in Vermont? Think Frigidaire. Anyway, quiz on Wednesday. Remember quizzes? They still give them. And Wednesday is our next class because we operate on a schedule of alternating four-period days, which they’ve named, for reasons on which I’m still not clear, A and E days. Two 90-minute periods in the morning and two in the afternoon, with a 23-minute lunch tagged onto third period. Actually, they call them mods—not clear on that one either. So, anyway, quiz on federalism Wednesday.
As far as classes go, yesterday was fairly benign. Except for, yet again, a student correcting me in algebra. John Nash I am not. And as far as students go, I need to get over this fantasy of young adults being closer to adulthood than childhood.
I am finding it difficult to avoid the paradox of mentally regressing—to make it easier to work with and relate to students, perhaps?—while, at the same time, using not a few grandpa-isms, those “when I was your age” sayings my grandfather loved to whip out. Case in point, there is a student I work with who, quite frankly, is the kind of kid I would have thought was cool in high school. (I was not cool in high school.) I would have hung out with him. Well, more accurately, I would have wanted to hang out with him. The kid cracks me up—and in this job, you need periodic cracking up. That being said, at the same time he has an innate, and rather impressive, ability to infuriate me. He is actually not alone in this. I mean, OK, so we’re not talking actually angry, but close. Yesterday, as with most days, it was the punctuality thing. I told you how important this is to me. To whit, after seeing yesterday’s entry, my old assistant reminded me of the time he was seven minutes late for a shoot and I told the location van driver to leave without him, and if he hadn’t thrown his bag against the door, we would have. Anyway … so, “Max” (obviously not his real name) has had scheduled time with me, whether in class or study hall or independent study, since school started. I do not recall an instance that he has shown up on time—although I am certain there is at least one, perhaps two, possibly three, but definitely not four. So, yesterday, having gotten my morning off to a famously bad start, I kind of lost it when he didn’t arrive promptly at 9:23. So I went to look for him, something I invariably end up doing despite my vows not to—they are, after all, mini-adults, no? He was in the cafeteria. Why are they always in the cafeteria?
Me: What are you doing?Max: I was just on my way up.Me: It’s almost 20 of. This is independent study, not independent time. I was waiting for you, and now I’ve been through the whole school looking for you. Let’s go. Get your ass [I actually said this, for emphasis, and to be sure to be heard] in gear and get upstairs.
It frightens me how much in that last part, except for saying “ass,” I sound like my mother. What frightens me more is that I have had this conversation with Max no less than three times. They say the definition of insanity is repeating the same act over and over and expecting a different result each time. I must be crazy. Once we got upstairs and started working, I even threw in the, “When you get to college, they’re not going to care. They won’t go looking for you, and they won’t send you the assignments in the mail.” Max just nodded his head, as though he not only agreed but fully understood. I almost said, “It’s like I’m talking to myself,” but at that moment I realized that that’s what my mother would have said, that I was my mother and I was talking to myself.
Besides, if he heard anything other than “ass” I’ll be happy.