Several months ago I was teaching all of my classes virtually. I had met some of my students for about 10 minutes in person before moving to strictly digital. Of course when I met them, they were wearing masks so I didn’t really know what they looked like. Now that we are back full time, I still have no clue what they really look like. But I digress. One kid, Nathan, always wore a hat to our virtual meetings. Not a baseball hat, but a fedora. And not just one fedora, but a different one every day. He’s a twelve-year-old boy with a pretty fabulous fedora collection, so he stood out.
Since he was in his bedroom for our meetings, he was distracted like all the other kids. One day in the middle of instruction, I leaned in close to my mic and said, “Although you are in your bedroom, the same rules apply during class time, so please put your swords away. I would hate to witness you slicing yourself to ribbons when one of those swords gets away from you.” He immediately stopped his sword twirling routine and put them away. I was impressed, but was pretty sure he wasn’t going to be able to do his work and twirl two swords. His mom must have caught on to the distractions because pretty soon he was moved to the kitchen table for classes.
Now that he’s at school his personality is in full force, and I find myself laughing a lot. One day he was waiting for his bus and talking to the girl who sits behind him. I only heard part of the conversation, but it was enough to make me chuckle. “Yeah, he was for sure an existential writer, that’s clear in his works.” The girl screwed her face up and said, “I have no idea what you just said.” He continued with his thought, ignoring her comment all together. I think he might have still been talking as she stomped off to catch her bus.
Yesterday Nathan stayed for Board Game club, along with another girl, Emily. We typically have more show up, but there was a conflict with the Art Club, so it was just the three of us. When we were walking back to my classroom, he said something about being thirsty and wishing he had remembered his water bottle. The conversation shifted to what 8th grade was like, even though they are still new to 7th grade and the need for fluid comment was forgotten.
Once in the room we played a card game called, “Taco, Cat, Goat, Cheese, Pizza.” At one point during the game, Emily took a drink from her water bottle and I took a drink from mine. Nathan commented, “Look at you two just nonchalantly drinking your drinks. Meanwhile I’m sitting here ready to drink that bottle of lotion because I’m so thirsty.” I laughed as I scrounged up enough change to get him bottle of water from the machine mostly because I wasn’t sure what bodily harm would ensue if he drank my apple scented lotion. He thanked me profusely and proceeded to drink the entire bottle of water in two gulps.
Emily was shuffling the cards when I heard what I thought was a fart. I would have died in middle school, or now for that matter, if I had audibly farted in front of people, so I didn’t say anything. Emily either didn’t notice or didn’t want to embarrass anyone because she continued shuffling and I continued reading an alternate set of rules. I looked up to see Nathan bright red and convulsing from laughter, tears streaming down his face as he tried to say, “It reverberated on the chair.” It took him about three tries to get the whole sentence out before he exclaimed with joy, “Oh- and it smells. Awww, that’s awful” he said has he frantically waved his hand in front of his nose. Emily and I just looked at each other and walked to the opened window and stuck our faces outside to avoid smelling Nathan’s fart- who was still having a complete middle school boy moment as he laughed maniacally from inside his fart cloud.
Once the cloud dissipated, we started a new round of the game. When a card matched the word spoken by the dealer, all players slapped the cards. This involved our hands touching. I later realized it probably wasn’t a Covid friendly game because it involved touching, but we had a blast. After a card slap, Emily wiped her hand on her jeans and commented, “Someone has sweaty hands.” Nathan immediately said, “Oh, that’s probably me. I’ve got the game sweats.”
We laughed for nearly the entire hour in board game club. It was a great way to end the day, although I could have done without the smelly fart.