Working in a school allows you to see a side of life you haven’t since you lived it. I’m talking about all those middle school hormones, smells, emotions, attitudes, styles, and more. By the end of the day, the library tends to smell like a million farts mixed with dirty gym clothes because of how close it is to the grade 9 wing. Don’t get me wrong, I love working with teenagers, it’s where I wanted to be, but the smell. And the attitudes! The majority of students are respectful and go about their business, stopping to chat if they aren’t too humiliated by my very presence. There are some though, mostly boys surprisingly, who could use an attitude change. They’re just plain rude and unlike their more goodhearted counterparts, they don’t respond to anything. I can tease, joke, use mild public humiliation, you name it, and these boys are just content to be miserable little jerks. So there’s nothing to do but move on and know that they’re no different from the miserable jerks you experienced when you were in middle school.
I can’t just move on though, really. I don’t want to write these kids off and blame their parents and be glad that they’ll be in high school next year. It’s easy to look to the younger grades and begin cultivating a relationship with them that you can carry over into the next few years and use to get along with future jerky personalities. The current students though will be the death of me. My solution? Candy, bribery, and unfailing kindness. I remember dealing with boys (and girls) like this in middle school and being in tears by the time I got home. They were cruel no matter what and to whoever crossed their paths. My science teacher, now a good family friend, would always smile and ignore their eye rolls when she realized that tearing them a new one wasn’t going to work. And by the end of the year these horrible little people, still cruel as ever, proclaimed this teacher to be their favourite. Who knew. So I’m going to smile and curse them behind their backs, and at the very least I’ll be a good example to kids during lunch supervision or something.