Middle School Boys

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.”

“He what?”

“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.


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15 Thoughts to “Middle School Boys”

  1. Lisa

    Priceless – and so true. I also teach middle school (6-8 grades) and understand about how that last hour of the day can be. Took 20 girls on a field trip today for a club activity. One in a boot couldn’t do one of the activities, so a friend stayed with her. When we got back, they showed me the “bathroom rap” they did with the paper towels and hand driers. Oh my.

  2. Kristin B

    LOLOLOLOLOLOL…I died laughing. I teach 9th grade ELA so I know exactly what you mean.

  3. lovelynightmares

    This is so funny! I was a TA for Grade 11 and 12 students while in my third year of university and did they drive me insane! I remember as a high school student thinking there were students who were “dumb” and there were students who were “smart”. But after being at that high school as an authority versus being a student I learned that everyone is smart in their own way. And there are nice kids and mean kids and kids that want to learn and those that don’t. I will definitely keep up with your blog. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  4. emily

    ahhhh.. reminders of my middle school teaching days.. makes me miss them.. but then also thankful I teach online, from home…. and I control all pens. 🙂

  5. Sharon

    I teach 5th and have a 6th grade son. I asked him which he would be, a licker or a Jacob and he said like Jacob! So glad to hear that!

  6. Pen lickers. Jimmy Fallon would say, “EW!”

  7. Sharon

    I’m telling you this summed up my life. I’ve taught middle school for 17 years now. They exhaust me. And a FEW of them are nice. They are like warriors. Since I teach LA sometimes I glean things (good as well as bad) from their writings. Last year one of the cutest, sweetest, cutest little girls confessed she regretted spitting in her teacher’s soda can in the fifth grade. Why? Because she got caught!

  8. Meghan

    I have so much respect for teachers in general and particularly for middle school teachers. I can not even FATHOM doing your job…..I did substitute for a few years and middle school was so hard. Those pen lickers can be especially tough on substitutes. So glad you have one kid in there to give you hope and a break!

  9. Maren

    I have a 9th grader and he probably would have been the one that yelled out in class that the other boy licked your pen. :0)

  10. deannab1

    I teach 8th grade as well. What is it about 7th period??? Seriously. Every year it’s full of the crazy, annoying boys who do anything to get attention. I would like to just abolish 7th period altogether. And why haven’t 8th graders figured out that it is not cool to pick your nose in public? You would think they would have learned that by now. Inevitably, every time I’m reading or lecturing or presenting, I look up to some kid with HIS finger up his nose. Gross. It’s always the boys.

  11. Oh, how I needed that laugh today. So much. All this grey, gloomy Florida fog makes me feel like I was accidentally teleported to Seattle without being warned and just blahhh. My experience comes with the 1-2 year old set (veteran of five years working in daycare), when, of course, they are all well, *everything* lickers. Yet, somehow, the boys still managed to out-gross the girls. That Y-chromosome is a real doozy. 😉

  12. Haha! This cracked me up and made me melt all at the same time. I’m a mama to 3 boys so I’m learning to get boys… somewhat. Haha. While they are most certainly different, so many of them have the potential to be sweet as can be just like Jacob. Hoping and praying I’m raising mine right. =)

  13. Susie

    As a kindred middle school teacher, I totally love your stories. In fact, I just read this one to my husband, who snorted his wine in laughter.

    I have mostly MS girls; they are always, ALWAYS needing to use the bathroom to take care of womenly emergencies. Like, every day. If I was on my period as much as they all claim to be I’d want to kill myself. Alas….

  14. My 12 year old boy would be both. He is a kind and loving boy. He would totally lick a pen, but then would feel too guilty and not give it back, and then would feel even more guilty and tattle on himself to you that he took your pen because he kind of sort of licked it and he doesn’t even know why he licked it, he just did, and so he didn’t want to give it back to you but then he couldn’t handle the guilt of keeping the pen and maybe we can just wash it or put hand sanitizer or something on it, that would be okay right? (And this is all said in one breath.) I’m not a teacher, but I still get it every day.

    My girls would only chew on their own pens because they would never be without one. 🙂

  15. Hilary

    God has a special place in heaven for 8th grade teachers. I just moved up from seventh to eighth this year and I miss 7th so much! My 8th graders are in the throes of middle school “senoritis” and we haven’t even hit the warm weather yet. Still, I can’t imagine a job I’d rather do.

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