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I think it was Johnny Depp that said “One-year-olds are like hanging out with little drunks, they vomit, they shit themselves, they cling to you for support, & then they pass out.”

Johnny Depp must have had easy children to deal with.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, & Friday my parents have my nephew for the twelve hours between the sixes.  I’ll confess to not at all understanding him.  I’m not a baby or even a toddler person.  Once they get old enough to be able to actually play a game & hold a conversation I love them to death, but when they are that young you can forget about it.

It seems odd for a teacher to say that, or a former teacher to say it…but then I taught high school, didn’t I?   Teaching high school is a whole different game.  For starters when you play with them, they kick your ass,  sure, you might have been a god at Ultimate Frisbee when you were their age, but you sure as hell aren’t their age any longer & no matter how good you might have been at sports, you’ve been smoking since & they are still young & fresh.  If you win, it’s because they let you win.  With high school kids–who are really just adults in better shape–there’s an element of challenge involved with them when you play basket ball with them after school, you know you’re not going to win, & sure, a part of it is the whole bonding thing needed for a good classroom experience, but really you are doing it just for the rush of survival you’re going to lose, but you want to lose with a good showing.

Kid’s my nephew’s age aren’t anywhere near that much fun.  For starters, you don’t have to swallow your pride before you ply with them.  There is no winning & no losing.  There are no rules & they can’t hold their attention long enough to even really play the game.  They don’t kick your ass & you don’t struggle just to save face, you just sort of chase them around the coffee table over & over & over again & when ever you get bored of it they demand the game continue.

There’s no sense of humor with them either.  You have to walk the line with high school kids, you have to learn not to smile.  Sure, Eddie might have said something hysterical, but you’re the adult, you have to keep a straight face long enough to tell him how inappropriate that was & how disappointed you are that he would say something like that.  And then, of course, there are the times when they catch you grinning because it was too funny & you really can’t hold it in.  Those are the times for drastic measures, those are the times you have to back pedal & do the hypocrite thing.  It’s funny Kyle, but I will have to give you a detention if I ever here you use language like that again in this school.  There’s a serious boundary issue that high school teachers face & it deals mainly with the sometimes futile attempts to keep a straight face.

Kids my nephew’s age don’t really have a sense of humor.  You can do something that they think of funny & you’ll have no idea why the kid is laughing so loud.  To your utter confusion, they’ll want you to do it again & again & again.  They will also watch the same youtube video over & over & over & over again, in my nephew’s case it’s Beyonce’s Put a Ring on it.  They will listen to it until you want to kill yourself.

In this case babies are much like women.  Every girlfriend I have ever had has had that one song or that one album, or that one mixed tape that made me want to kill myself outright.  For starters, with the exception of Julie, every girl I have ever dated had shit taste in music.  They seem to be, as a gender, fixated on crap-pop or, as with the worst of my former girlfriends, crap-country.  Sure, you’ll get lucky & find Julie who think’s Going to California is a sweet song, but she was also the type of girl that wouldn’t put a single song on repeat or listen to the same album every fucking day, & the type that would ultimately leave you to go to Israel & be with “her people.”

You’re people are from Buffalo Grove, Julie.  You’re a Chicagoan.  That’s like saying I have to join the IRA & go make The Troubles worse.  It doesn’t work that way, not when you are born & raised in America, that makes you an American honey.  In the end, I guess she was crazier than anyone I’ve ever met.  You got to be nuts to support a genocide, especially if you’re Jewish & history suggests, of all people, you should know better.  Never Again & So it Goes.

Now that I’m living with mom & dad again, I know the words to Put a Ring on it by heart.  Which isn’t that hard, it’s the same two sentences repeated over & over & over again.  It has the type or repetition that babies love & adults hate.  Pop culture has gone straight down hill since, well, largely since Grunge died, but that was a small blink of the eye to the classics like Queen & Zeppelin, which, in the end, will be more eternal than Nirvana, Pearl Jam,& Alice in Chains.

The other thing about kids is how defensive everyone gets around them.  My mother taught my nephew to scream “Fee-Fyi-Fo-Fum,” as he chased you around the coffee table–which is a big improvement to the monotony of chasing him around the coffee table.  “Fee-Fyi-Fo-Fum” is fine, but when you’re left alone with him & the real adults come back to hear the kid screaming “kill! Kill! Kill! Kill!” as he chases you around the coffee table there is serious hell to pay no matter how positively adorable it is.

Give it a break guys, the kid doesn’t even know what “kill” means.

I’ve never chased any of my high school students around a coffee table, but in today’s society I’m pretty sure I would have to sit them down & have a serious talk about the use of the word “kill.”  Even if the student was trying to use it humorously.  But that’s an event that would never happen & on many levels, for starters that’s a game a teenager would never want to play, & then there’s the fact that I would NEVER play that game with someone I consider an adult, & then there’s the fact that if I were a principle & walked in on that I’d fire the teacher then can myself for bad judgement.

And then, of course, there is the conversation thing.  When a student comes in to your classroom crying, you can talk to them & find out what’s bothering them.  You can help.  With babies it’s a fucking guessing game, are you wet, tired, do you need to burp, or are you simply just bitching for the sake of bitching?

You can also talk about fun shit, like music & movies.  You can even–& my mouth is salivating form the prospect–talk about history & government with them.  And sometimes they even want to hear about it.  Kid’s my nephew’s age you get lucky if they let you read them a Dr. Sues book.

I can relate to teenagers, I actually remember what it was like being a teen.  I now what they’re going through, or at least I can safely say I’ve been there before in some broader sense & know if they are talking to me to vent a frustration & I should just listen, or if there is a serious problem.  I like the lip they give me, I like how they talk back, & I even like the rebellion in them. Teenagers are awesome, they can tell you the most mundane things, things that you did a thousand times when they were you’re age, but when they tell you about it it’s the most exciting shit they have ever been through.  Some of their stories my suck, but the thing is, their teenagers, it’s an age group thing, they tell awesome stories & I can listen to them all day.

Kids, Children, the group that are old enough to understand shoots & ladders, they can be fun to play with in their own rights & I don’t mind being around them.  I even enjoy playing with them.  But there is a lack of complexity there that’s sort of under stimulating.  I don’t know, I don’t think I’m a child guy.  Once they hit twelve or thirteen I can start to identify with them, start to really enjoy spending time with them.

But the younger they get, the less I understand them.  And I don;t understand why people will latch on to something a kid does & think it’s super & awesome.  He said “all done,” he’s done it a million times before.  Let’s wait until he comes into your classroom because Kelly broke his heart, or she’s having a fight with one of her best friends, or they just saw the new Batman & want to give you a blow by bow summary of the film.  That’s the shit I like to deal with.  Forget about it, I’ll take Juan & his issues with the Latin Kings over a toddler any day of the week.

Give me a teenager & I’ll show you how to bond & handle whatever they throw at you.  Give me a child & I can play with them.  But kids that young, hell, I’m too scared to even pick them up, I mean, what if I break them?

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