I feel there is no better time to impart some wisdom to the needy than whenever I hear someone complaining that it’s the Teacher’s fault that their kid is doing shitty in school.  Being a teacher is a bitch. I know this from spending a decent part of my adult life talking to the walls in classrooms filled with ‘students’  in grades 5 to I’m an adult and I didn’t pay attention the first time around.  The term Students here is being used loosely  because it refers to individuals who are trying to learn.  The truth is that the majority of the gov’t mandated attendees are just there to hang out. The absolute worst of the bunch are 7th graders. They’re just a step up from chimps. In fact, I would have rather taught chimps. Then I could have been like a male version of Jane Goodall, only in the urban jungle. Or in my case, the  suburban white middle class, city maintained dog park. Whatever.

So last night when I heard some woman bitching, in between gulps of her Lemon Drop , that her wonderful little Johnny was not excelling in the classroom because his teacher didn’t know what the fuck she was doing, I had to put down my chicken wing and give her a dose of reality.

“Maybe your kid is a pain in the ass? Did you ever think of that?” I asked, licking the garlic hot sauce from my fingers.

“Excuse me? Are you talking to me?”  She feigned insult, but her eyes twinkled with lust. Or maybe she was looking at the hot sauce on my chin. I’m not sure.

“Yeah, believe it or not your kid is probably not the sweet angel you think he is and there is a pretty good chance that the teacher is tired of putting up with his shit.”

“Well, I never.” She snorted and walked off followed by three dudes wearing Ed Hardy caps backwards, obviously hypnotically drawn to the “Lucky Youtramp stamp above her ass crack, a symbol of her virtue and modest ways.

That little convo got me thinking about how I used to deal with kids that were simply a pain in the ass.  One kid in particular came to mind and made it impossible for me to finish my chicken wings.

Ryan was the smelly kid. Despite having three older sisters who were part of the in crowd and thus smelled acceptable, at 13 Ryan, the baby of the family,  hadn’t grasped the idea that soap and water are a good combination.  I was a professional though, so I could get past the stink and give Ryan the attention he needed to succeed in 7th grade Social Studies. Problem was, he didn’t do anything. He would just sit there and try to talk over me. He would raise his hand and just start talking about shit that had nothing to do with class. He told crappy jokes. Worst of all, he was a nose picker.  Again, being a professional, I would try not to puke in my mouth while he mined for booger nuggets but there was a point where it got to be too much.

I’m probably giving away trade secrets here, but in the teaching world ‘Movie Day’ is code for The Teacher is Hungover Like a Mofo and since Thursdays were 25 cent draft night at my bar of choice back then, Fridays were very often Movie Day in ol Mr. R’s  class. Actually it got to the point where the kids would see me in the schoolyard Friday mornings and say, “Sweet, Movie Day!”  Don’t judge me.

 I remember we had been doing a unit on Hawaii so I brought in some Magnum PI tapes to keep them occupied while I sat at my desk and tried not to pass out.  No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t avert my eyes from Ryan, up to his elbow in his right nostril digging like a Chilean Miner on a quest for freedom or a reunion with his mistress. The tipping point came when he pulled out a particularly large nugget and happily popped it in his mouth like a booger green gummy bear.  First I took the digital camera from my desk and snapped a few pics of him “in flagrante”, then I took a piece of paper and jotted down a little note for Ryan, walked over to his desk and handed it to him, watching him closely as he read it.

Dear Ryan,

Stop picking your goddamn nose. It’s disgusting. While you have been enjoying your little snack I have taken several pictures of you digging for gold and if your finger gets anywhere near your nose in my classroom again I swear to God I will print them out and paste them all over the school. Try me.


Mr. R

I took back the note and showed him one of the pictures.  I still have it, framed, hanging on the wall in my den.

That cured Ryan until a couple of weeks later when he had a meltdown in the art room and held the class hostage with one of those long wooden handled paintbrushes. After that it was decided that home schooling might not be so bad an option for him and he never came to my class again. 

Last year while I was back in town visiting family, I saw Ryan at the mall working a kiosk selling ironic T-shirts. For a brief moment our eyes met and he looked like he wanted to say something to me. He was probably going to thank me for a job well done, but before he could I nodded to him, then made a face and pretended to stick my finger in my nose and root around furiously. I know, classy right?

The moral of the story here is, Don’t blame the teacher. Your kid is probably just a pain in the ass and the Teacher is just trying to make it through Movie Day.

  1. bschooled says:

    “…I nodded to him, then made a face and pretended to stick my finger in my nose and root around furiously.”

    I’m dying here.

    Swear to God, if I hadn’t declared my uterus a “child-free zone” back in third grade, I would have wanted my kids to have a teacher just like you. For real.

  2. How has no one commented on this?? Unbelievable. As an educator, I support everything you’re saying.

    This was my favorite part though: ” I remember we had been doing a unit on Hawaii so I brought in some Magnum PI tapes to keep them occupied while I sat at my desk and tried not to pass out.”


    PS – No big deal, but is Ryan single?? Just asking. For a friend, not for me.

    • Rod says:

      Those in the know, know. Know what I’m saying. I’m not sure if he’s available, but it’s hard to believe a catch like him would still be on the market.

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