Thursday, April 17, 2008

Poetic Justice

When I was teaching, it always bugged me when kids would transfer out of my class. Not so much if they had a scheduling conflict, but this excuse infuriated me:

"I'm going to transfer in to Mr. O's class because he's a lot easier."

This was from HONORS students who should have known that an HONORS class was going to require some serious work. But whatever.

So imagine, if you will, my absolute, complete, over-the-moon joy when I discovered that there was a student who wanted to transfer out of Mr. O's class into mine. Someone had finally seen the light! We would be kindred spirits! This student would love my class with all its rigor and challenge and intellectual engagement! I would love this student! We would be best friends!

My first clue should have been when the principal called to tell me the news. That's just not the norm.

My second clue should have been how he laughed hysterically about how excited I was.

My third clue should have been when he told me that she had to transfer out of Mr. O's class because they were reading mythology and the characters came alive in her head and spoke to her in violent voices that made her feel crazy.

Maybe because she was crazy.

Unfortunately for my student teacher, Melissa, I wasn't teaching that class. Melissa was. And so she got full-on doses of crazy every day. I usually went and lounged in the library, reading YA novels and professional books with relish, while Melissa got to deal with the nastiness.

That's why I loved having student teachers.

Eventually there came a day where I had to take the class back. This girl was so nasty, disrespectful, unkind, and just plain unbalanced that I ended up sending her to the counselor's office within the first ten minutes. I think Melissa was like, "I had to endure that for weeks and now you're just going to retransfer her out?" Oh, yes, I am.

The best part was what the counselor had to say. "I think," he said, "that Kayla might be schizophrenic."

"So have you talked to her parents about it?"

"Oh, she knows she has problems. But her parents are really into natural living, so they won't get any help for her."

"Natural living?" I'm totally behind organic farmers all the way, so I feel like I'm into natural living, too. But, whoa. I'm so not, comparatively.

"Yes. They don't eat anything that's been cooked."


He went on to explain that in their house, they only ate foods that had not been cooked or processed in any way. They had a big board over their stove so that they could use the space as a countertop. Think about it: no bread, no meat, no pasta, no soup. Pretty much they ate fruit and vegetables. Her favorite dessert? Honeycomb.

I was starting to understand the crazy. And I felt bad for her. Really. (Not bad enough to wholly forgive her for disturbing my class in majorly negative ways, but bad enough that I hoped she could find a new teacher who would love her and all her craziness.)

So I still didn't take her back in to my class. She clearly hated me (and my student teacher) and so I sent her back to Mr. O.

He wouldn't take her.

Kayla and I weren't soul mates. But maybe me and Mr. O were.


Carol said...

Well my dear her family were residents of Pleasant Grove, need I go on??? I think not! I blame PG!

Oh and in response to your comment attempting to making me feel like a better parent, Eli burst his ear drum too as a 6 month old and I was oblivious too until the dreaded puss.....

Leisha said...

Wow, yikes! At first when you said they didn't eat anything cooked I imagined an episode of "wife-swap" where the family ate raw chicken they "fermented" in jars. Putrid.

Maybe her brain just needed some protein. If I don't eat "real" food I turn into quite the beast myself (although mythological creatures don't speak to me. much.)

Kiera said...

Wow That is weird that they don't eat cooked food. What a hard way to live!

The Rookie said...

LOVE this post!

Whenever my friends and family come across someone of the crazy variety (on the news, in their field of work, at the grocery store), I assure them they need not worry. We may all rest easy knowing that I will eventually teach their children.

And all that crazy DNA and "unique" socialization that has been milling around that gene pool will manifest itself in this child within the confines of my classroom. Rest assured, I'll send the kid to the office. :)

Corrine said...

maybe she wasn't crazy but starving!

TnD said...

I met a raw vegan (that's the official term for the malady you describe) the other day and asked him what his favorite treat was. Ironically, this conversation occurred as I was popping marshmallows into my mouth, which must have nauseated him but are one of my favorite treats. He responded, "Ground flax seed mixed with water." That said, I utterly sympathize with your crazy student. School must have been her outlet for getting back at the dinner table.

Sarah Anne said...

You and Mr. O. keep in touch often then, huh?

I enjoy your rememberings of PGHS. good times.

Anonymous said...

She might have been less crazy if she weren't so hungry, but I have some strong doubts. I'd forgotten all about her (repressed the memory, no doubt), but I think I'll have a nightmare about your third period tonight, starring Kenneth the aspiring navy seal and Kayla the raw foodist schizo. Thanks a bunch.

Yvonne said...

Let me just say, I admire teachers so much. Stories you could probably tell. This one was something else. Poor girl--that's really kind of scary.

I'm sure the students were hard enough, but I can only imagine what it's like dealing with PARENTS!!!