Kids Say the Darnedest Things…

It was a pretty hard week. The kind where one more thing couldn’t possibly make it worse…then does. Where you’ve got several days blocked with many, many students, you’re introducing a concept they should have been practicing since 4th grade (but are just being made aware of as high schoolers) and frustration from every party involved is imminent. The kind of week where any additional attitude magnifies itself beyond frustration. When you’ve got an observation scheduled, on top of everything else, and it seems like there wasn’t a break from the week prior.

The kind of week that was so much harder for your husband, you feel mortally guilty to mention a word of your horrid week at home. The kind of week where you question yourself. The kind of week where your grandfather is transferred from rehab for psychiatric evaluation, and in your heart you’d rather be with him and knowing exactly what’s going on than anywhere else in the world. The kind of week that brings waves of unthinkably bad news, all affecting the folks at school. The kind of week that you’d kinda like to give up.

Today, in the midst of the down slope of that treacherous week, the students gave me hope, in the form of a small gesture of kindness, and a good laugh.

While monitoring a 7th grade Spanish class in the library working on a project, I had a girl call me over to her table. I made my way over, after quickly helping a couple of other kids first. She sat there, along with two other silent girls. Bluntly, she said, “You are soooo pretty, y’know.” I was shocked, and thanked her, and walked away feeling that the weekend had already started.

You see, I’ve been having some self esteem issues lately, so a genuine comment like that from a middle schooler (generally a highly critical breed of human) struck an unexpected chord. It was as if the popular kids back in high school were suddenly very nice, specifically to ME, the outgoing but awkward band geek. Of course, the thought that she was joking crossed my mind for a second, but the fact that she and the other girls all smiled (let’s face it, I’m pretty used to the “turn your back, snicker” thing that we get all too often in the library) indicated that there was sincerity involved. It pretty much made my day.

At another point in the day, I was reading a book to 4th graders. In it, the phrase “No wonder they pity us” was uttered, to which a student said, “That’s what Mr. T. has on his hands. They’re, like, rings or something.” Before I knew it, I was doing my Mr. T. impersonation – “Oh, yeah, Mr. T! ‘I pity duh fooh.’ So, what does pity mean?” Wait, did I even know I HAD a Mr. T. impression?? And how old WAS this kid that he knew Mr. T.?! So, I asked how he knew — apparently he watches “The A Team” (…TV Land, maybe?). 

Kids started sharing what THEY watch, or who THEY know from “olden times”. Suddenly, I heard a name that sounded a little too familiar. A quiet voice squeaked, “I know Dwight Shrute.” Wait. That’s not even an old reference. And what 4th grader watches “The Office”?! I stood there, dumbstruck, staring at the pint-sized girl. Somehow, I wasn’t too surprised. She lives on a farm, after all…who couldn’t relate to Dwight Shrute’s shrewd agricultural talents?

Sometimes it’s the little things that drag you out of the muck, unexpectedly. And who else is an expert on “the little things” but kids? And how can a reference to “The Office” not make you smile?