I can’t believe I made it through my first year of teaching. I can’t. And that it went…wellish. I didn’t have too many horrible parent encounters of the third kind. I only suspended one student (for cutting my drama class TWICE. Which makes no sense. That class is fun! if you’re going to cut…cut math or science. Sheesh). I think the final count of boys with weird prepubescent crushes on me is down to three, thanks to my recently implemented “don’t touch me or I’ll give you detention” policy. And bottom line, I had a pretty good time. I made some awesome friends. And hung out with some awesome kids. Those kids are hilarious. And cuuuute. Acne, BO, loud noises and all.

Really, these last two weeks, I’ve already taught them all the Latin they (and I) can handle. And honestly I don’t want to grade any thing else. So we’re just trying to survive. I’m a glorified babysitter, passing back papers and teaching camp songs and being so much fun that it erases any dark memories the children have of me yelling at them just a week ago about breathing too loud or whatever. (seriously…some Darth Vader status breathers out there!)

Because it’s about summer, they get to do all this fun stuff at the end of the year…tomorrow I’m escorting the eighth grade class to Great America for an all-day field trip. They are so excited they can’t stand themselves. They don’t have to wear their uniforms AND they can bring their cellphones! Heeeeaaaaven! I’m only sad that we’re such a small school that they don’t get the awesome experience that is a crazy (drunk) bus lady driving you somewhere far away in a magical (read: sticky and smelly) yellow school bus. We’re caravan-ing, and I was smart enough to put in a parental request with my secretary who drew up the car arrangements…a nice, air-conditioned, spacious Escalade? Yes, please!

Luckily, I don’t have to really hold the students’ hands too much during the trip. I’m going to be meeting them at checkpoints during the day, but other than that, they can wander freely! So basically, I got me a free ticket to the Vortex, the Grizzly, and the Drop Zone. And I’m also really looking forward to a corndog and blue cotton candy. Maybe a chocolate malt. Definitely a stop at those henna tattoo booths or the hair wrappy things, or the Kanye West sunglasses cart, so I can get something nice and tacky before the graduation ceremony Tuesday night….siiiike.

To fulfill my chaperone-y duties, I’ll definitely be checking out all the photo booths and dark corners for some of the ones that think they are “going out” with each other, which has basically meant they share long hugs in the hallways in between classes. But even with their (mostly) sweet, sheltered, private school innocence, I remember all too well being a teenager and thinking amusement parks were totally romantic places to go…I always wanted to hold hands in line for the rides and pretend to be scared so I could be comforted. And you always see those teenage couples, necking it up, with the boy standing behind the girl, his arms around her waist, and they’re walking awkwardly through the lines, unable to separate for even a MOMENT to catch up to the line that’s moving quickly ahead of them, frustrating everyone behind them. Then the other obnoxious, but uncoupled teens always yell out “get a room!”

I plan on yelling “Leave room for Jesus!” to my students. and everyone. Just because.

I remember I did go to Marine World with a boyfriend once in high school, and it actually was kinda fun to watch whale shows and stuff together, and make him buy me one of those adorable stuffed baby tigers. But these were the days when Dickies train conductor overalls were in style, and I remember it was so freaking hot and I kept ducking into bathrooms to check how sweaty my armpits were. Which makes the whole experience not romantic, when you can only hold hands for ten seconds before you have to slyly pull away to wipe your palms. We did totally make out on the ferris wheel though. YES!

Anyway, I love places like Disneyland and GA because there is such great people-watching. When you get tired of rides, just get a bucket of popcorn and park by the carousel for afternoon entertainment. The crowd is adorably predictable. You have your usual white trash people, children in sweatpants and mullets, mom and dad wearing Tazmanian Devil shirts and straight legged jeans barely containing that sweet beer belly, hauling huge stuffed animals they spent fifty dollars at the impossible basketball toss arcade game to buy their kids, after spending seventy on the ticket to just get inside.

Then there are the inappropriately dressed girls, who wear a dress or are in the short-shorts, which, turns out, aren’t so cute when you have to sit on a blazing hot roller coaster seat, with a safely device to buckle into between your knees. Or the ones in white shirts “so surprised” when they get wet on the Log Rides. And there are always these tiny, tiny Asian girls who are dressed to the nines and somehow balance on stilettos all day long at Disneyland, making me look like a nerd in my sensible tennies. (All the better to run after the naughty children with.)

And you’ve got your amusement park gangsters, saggy black jeans and wife beaters, who don’t realize how ridiculous they look trying to look cool in Smurfville or Scooby-Doo’s Adventureland or whatever. And tourists who have to take a picture in front of every cardboard cutout of a cartoon character, or get autograph books signed…I love that stuff. People crack me up.

This is going to be the last big chunk of time I spend with these kids before they go off to high school…its amazing the way God has made our brains that we get all fuzzy about the bad moments we had, and I can only look back at this last year and remember all the sweet things they ever said or did. And am somehow able to forget all the times i wanted to strangle them.

I’ll miss them. I’m glad we get to do this last silly thing together…Great America! So patriotic. And then…summer!! I can almost taste it! yeeeeehaw :)

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