I love, love, love teaching middle school. Really, I do. But weeks such as this one simply wear me out.
It started out on Tuesday with some Husker student-athletes coming to visit our 7th graders. Our local college team's kicking squad - Alex Henery, Brett Maher, and P.J. Mangieri - came to answer student questions.
The kids loved getting to hear from these special guests!
Less than one hour later, Student Council hosted our first 6th grade dance of the year. Because of the amount of students who ride buses, we have to have each grade-level dance on a separate day to avoid over-crowding what few buses are available to us. For most, this would seem like a good idea. For this Student Council sponsor, it makes for an exhausting week.
I get such a kick out of our precious 6th graders as they anxiously anticipate their very first middle school dance. They aren't quite sure what to wear or if they need a date or what the cool dance moves are, so they are absolutely worthless in class that day.
You couldn't pay me enough to back to that time in my life.
Only 180 of them came to the dance, which was down from last year's 230. But I can't imagine what it would have been like with another 50 kids. Last year, we had to prod our kids to actually dance. This year, they basically just ran around for an hour. It was simply crazy.
During a slow song, the floor pretty much cleared except for one of my Language Arts students and his girlfriend. Really, they are a very sweet couple. He always saves her a seat at breakfast. He walks her to class. And he has no shame in slow-dancing with her, even when it is clearly not the popular thing to be doing.
What I didn't expect, however, was that he would kiss her when the song was over.
I saw it happen.
I looked the other way.
I went home with a headache.
The next morning when I said, "I can't believe you kissed her!" he said, "What? It wasn't the first time."
Somehow, I was relieved by hearing that.
Wednesday, we hosted our 7th grade dance, which I have affectionately nicknamed, "Blood, Sweat, and Tears." Only 150 of them came, which was a much more manageable number. However:
Within the first ten minutes, there were two break-ups, which sent both parties crying in the bathrooms.
I am a lot of things, but I am not a good empathizer in the department of middle school relationships. I said things like, "I'm sure that's really hard for you," or "He probably doesn't deserve you anyway." Then, I went home and e-mailed the guidance counselor so she could follow up.
Later in the dance, some kid got whacked in the mouth, necessitating the use of a bloodborne pathogen kit. They swear it was an accident. I'm not convinced.
Also, a girl who just got out of surgery and who can only walk with the use of crutches got pushed down to the ground. They swear it was an accident. I'm not convinced.
The "sweat" part is pretty self-explanatory and is unavoidable at events such as these. Yuck.
Today's 8th grade dance was the icing on the cake. In a good way.
Based on the previous two dances, I had prepared myself for the worst. These kids are the oldest, rowdiest, and have the "we-rule-the-school" kind of attitudes. I had a bad attitude all day because I just didn't want to chaperon another dance.
But, they were great. There were only 90 of them there, and they actually danced. They were fun, they mingled outside of their everyday social circles, they included everybody, and they responded well when I told them, "No, I will not play that song."
At the end of the dance when I announced that it was time to go, they said, "Thank you."
Blow. Me. Down.
Thank-yous? From eighth graders? I didn't know they had it in them!
And now, dance week is over! I've had enough cha-cha-sliding, dougie-ing, whipping my hair back-and-forth, jerking, stanky leging, and pop, lock, and dropping to last me a lifetime. Or at least until our next round of dances in April.