I Quit

Every day as the clock passes 12:00, I develop a stomachache. It’s not because I’m hungry. It’s not because I’ve eaten too much. It’s not because my lunch consisted of spoiled meat, moldy bread, sushi, or any other disgusting items. It’s because I know I only have a few minutes until my fourth period class. And if I survive that, I’ll have to endure my fifth period class as well.

I have some students who, despite the fact they have several Ds and Fs in their classes, don’t feel the need to do any work in my class. They ask if they can listen to music and I answer in the affirmative. I let my students listen to their iPods as long as they’re working and the music isn’t loud enough to bother anyone else. Many of my students have short attention spans and music helps to tune out other background noises that would otherwise distract them and get them off task. However, instead of listening to music while working, these guys listen to music while rapping loudly, talking to their classmates, and refusing to work until I revoke the privilege.

These kids wander around my room aimlessly because sitting still for 40 minutes is just too difficult. When I go over their missing assignments from other classes and instruct them to work on them, they respond with absolute incredulity. “What?! My teacher’s making me do all this? Man, she be trippin’! Ain’t nobody got no time for this!” It doesn’t matter that everyone else in the class did the same assignment and completed it on time. Nope, these guys think everyone’s out to get them because their teachers expect them to (gasp) work and (gasp) learn things at school. The nerve!

Today, one kid whipped a glob of slimy, goopy, putty up in the air. It stuck to the ceiling and proceeded to slowly ooze down, a hot pink string of snot dripping from the ceiling down to the floor. Now if one of my “good” kids had done this, I might have been inclined to laugh. Or smirk. Or at least not get too bent out of shape. But when the kids pull something like this after spending 30 minutes being disruptive and disrespectful, I have no tolerance.

I want to sit down, pop some Tylenol and chug them down with half a bottle of Pepto. I want to throw up my hands and say, “Suit yourselves! I already graduated from junior high! If you want to fail, knock yourselves out!” I want to inform them, “You keep heading down this road where you don’t care about education and you don’t have any desire to act like a responsible, respectful member of society, and guess what – the best you can hope for in life is to spend your days saying, ‘Want fries with that?'” I want to call the kids’ parents and shout, “Your child is a real &*%#$!” but I know it won’t make any difference because the child learned everything they know from those same parents. I want to quit so I can stay home, caring for my home, making sure my own kids don’t become hoodlums, and writing books.

So instead, I sigh heavily and glance at the clock, praying for a fire drill or an impromptu visit from the dean or an alien invasion. You know, anything to break up the class. And at the end of the day, I walk to the principal’s office and give her my weekly announcement. “I quit.” Then she gives me her standard response. “You can’t quit.”

This afternoon, as I was dragging myself out to the parking lot, one of my students was walking out to her car with her big brother. “Bye, Miss Meehan!” she called.

“Hey,” I called. “I was just talking to your math teacher about your chapter 10 test.”

Her brother asked, “How did she do on it?”

“She did horribly! She’s probably my worst student. Always making trouble, not listening . . .” I said, teasing her. I winked at her and admitted that she’d gotten an A on her test and that her math teacher and I were proud of her. I told her brother that she was a good kid who did her work and didn’t give me any problems.

Her brother said, “Good! I keep telling her how important it is to get good grades. You can’t get to college with bad grades. I’m in college now. I know it’s important to do well.”

I smiled as I continued out to my car. I guess this is why we do this. Still, I’m going to continue to hope for an alien invasion during 4th and 5th periods.

Want to read more from Dawn? Get her books Because I Said So (and other tales from a less-than-perfect parent) and You’ll Lose the Baby Weight (and other lies about pregnancy and childbirth) here!

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