Out of the Mouth of (Teen) Babes
Radiation Level: Mild radiation sickness within a few hours: vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue; reduction in resistance to infection
Listening To: Senses Working Overtime by XTC
More from the world of teaching. I love teenagers, which is curious because I sure did hate being one. Maybe it’s my deep sympathy for them that makes me try so hard to cheer them on. Their bodies are freaking out and they have no control over what’s happening. And they can be so hellishly mean to each other. When I’m around them I just want to hug them and tell them everything is going to be alright.
So I had about 22 11th graders in my class and we were doing a story telling assignment where they had to get up in front of the class and tell a story from their own life.
One boy had mentioned earlier that he loved roller coasters, so it made sense that he told a story about going to Magic Mountain (a place I used to know extremely well, because as a tortured-teen, FalloutGirl would get one of those annual passes and spend every weekend there in the Summer, riding coasters, listening to New Wave bands and flirting with boys. GOOD TIMES!)
So ThrillBoy (I’ll call him) told us about packing five large kids into the log jammer and the weight of their bodies causing the log to sink and fill with water. I laughed, having fond memories of doing the exact same thing.
A girl (I’ll call JammerGirl) in the class was apparently one of the students who packed herself like a sardine into the damp log.
JammerGirl interjected her memories of the event and now they were both excitedly telling the story. I was loving it. Until…
JammerGirl said, “And then I was on X and totally freaking out!”
ThrillBoy piped up. “It was the first time JammerGirl had been on X and she was screaming SO LOUD! It was crazy.”
Are they talking about what I think they’re talking about? I panicked. Here are these kids talking so openly about using drugs. I’m the adult. I can’t just let it go, I have to say SOMETHING, but what? I’ve clearly earned their trust if they’ve opened up to me in this way. So I stand up and get their attention. I take a serious tone and say, “Hey guys. I really appreciate you sharing your stories and being so honest with me. But I have to tell you that drug use can be very dangerous.”
The kids all stop talking (a rarity, trust me). And then ThrillBoy and JammerGirl both look at me like I’m the biggest A**Hole alive.
Then, after the awkward pause, ThrillBoy says in a low, condescending tone, “X is a ROLLER COASTER.”
OMG! I’m a moron with a capital M! The kids all burst out laughing. My face turns bright red and I have to walk away from the kids to get my own laughter/mortification under control. Some of the girls are rolling on the ground, still laughing, cackling really. I take a deep breath and sigh with relief. These precious kids are not high on drugs. They are high on roller coasters. And I have hope for the future.