I teach 8th grade. You need to know this before reading the rest of this story.
Now that the scene is set, let’s enter my classroom. It’s 7th period and the bell has just rung to end the school day. And I am so glad because my 7th period class is full of middle school boys. And not the fun ones. It’s full of those little turds who just annoy you to annoy you. All day I dread my 7th period.
So, yesterday, the bell rang and that familiar feeling of relief washed over me as all my little turds ran screaming out of my room to catch their buses.
Except for one.
There is one redeeming boy in my 7th period class. He is quiet in that cool kind of way. Kids like him, but he’s not popular. Those tend to be my favorite kids – the really fantastic ones that fly under everyone’s radar. This guy is kind of hard to get to know, though, because he is so quiet. I don’t think he’s said 10 words to me all year. Which is why I was sort of surprised to see him lingering back after class.
He slowly made his way to my desk, as I stood there in my normal post-7th period stupor, trying to remember my own name.
“Uh… Mrs. Brown…?” he said in his polite, quiet voice.
“What’s up, Jacob?” I asked.
“Well… um… you know that pen that Brandon borrowed from you? The one he returned at the end of the period?”
I had to think here because I hardly know what comes and goes from my desk throughout the course of the day, but it’s not uncommon for students to borrow my pens, so I said, “Yeah, sure. What about it?”
“Well… um…” Jacob stammered. And then he took a deep breath, summoned his courage, and looked me square in the eye. “He licked it.”
“Licked it. Before he put it in your pen cup,” he said, pointing to this pen sticking up above the others in the pen cup. “It’s right there.”
Now, two things happened in my head. First, I died laughing. I freaking love teaching middle schoolers because of crap like this. Who licks a person’s pen and gives it back to them?! A middle school boy. That’s who.
But then I was just overcome with gratitude and awe. While one middle school boy was LICKING my pen, another was watching my back. And not in a tattle tale way, either. He wasn’t trying to get Brandon in trouble. He just didn’t want me to use a licked pen. How thoughtful is that?
And let’s just pause here to appreciate the fact that middle school boys are so disgusting, in fact, that one of them warning me about a licked pen makes them a remarkable kid. Like it’s not just the right thing to do, but is actually a pretty freaking AWESOME, rare thing to warn someone about using a cootie pen.
I’m telling this to you as a piece of parenting advice. There are two kinds of children in this world. Pen lickers and the ones who tell us our pen has been licked. Make sure you raise the right kind.