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Entry date: 11-16-2023 – Something in the Water – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

I don’t want to jinx it, but the Cocaine Baby has put together three solid days in a row. I’m learning a bit, I think, how to reach him. There is also a chance the assistant principal got to him by taking all his privileges away when he messes up, and maybe, just maybe, he’s getting some love and support at home. Fingers are crossed and toes and pubes and anything else that can be crossed.

I was talking to another member of the team yesterday and I mentioned that I think he is scared of changing his behavior. She looked at me with a surprised expression and said that he had expressed that very thing to her a couple of days ago. For me, the idea came from a few things he said and his body language during a short discussion we had on Tuesday after recess.

I can totally empathize with him. Change is scary, especially when it comes to how we behave. There is the lingering fear that what if the change isn’t good enough and people don’t react the way I want them to react. It stops adults from doing what they need to do to be healthy and happy, so why wouldn’t the same fear be there for a nine-year-old who doesn’t know which was is up or down half the time.

We get so afraid of letting things go, even when we know they are bad for us. If you’ve ever had a bad habit, you know what I mean. It’s scary to quit. It’s hard. It feels weird. It goes against the hedonistic impulses that favor pleasure over pain or discomfort.

Even though Cocaine Baby has a lot of things going against him and his body is not his friend a lot of the time, he’s got kindness in him. He’s got needs and wants and most of all, he wants to be loved so badly. He also is a world class pain in the ass, and he has some awareness of that, too. I totally believe that he loves being a dick.

Why wouldn’t he, though?

Again, I can empathize. I’ve been through phases in my life where I got off on being an asshole. It’s not fun to admit, but there is a certain feeling of power or control or something that comes from just kind of letting the old dick flag fly sometimes, so I get where Cocaine Baby is coming from with his antics.

I remember the pleasure I got from driving a teacher crazy in elementary school. I should probably think like this when I’m in the classroom more, too, and maybe I would be a bit more understanding of my young brothers and sisters who like to watch me sway in the breeze as they hang me out to dry. Maybe I wouldn’t be such a dick to them.

But then I wouldn’t get to enjoy being Mean Mr. R.

I do enjoy being mean Mr. R sometimes. I must admit it. There has got to be a balance, or the kids will walk all over you and most of these kids don’t want to do anything that is hard or requires thought. If you’ve been following along for the past (almost) two years, you know this is a common complaint of mine.

What I don’t hear a lot from other teachers is the same complaint. Have they discovered some secret elixir that allows them to not vocalize this? Sure, a few echo my sentiments, but a lot never seem to bring it up. Maybe if you are in the classroom long enough, you just accept that a good number of your students are going to be inherently lazy.

Heck, I was a lazy student. I did just enough to get by and keep people off my back. Hindsight being 20/20, I would have approached school a lot differently if I had to do it again. In fact, I did. Once I realized that school was something that could make my life a lot easier, I took it a lot more seriously.

Maybe Cocaine Baby will get the message earlier than I did. Maybe there is something in his water now that is helping him focus (a tiny bit) and will give him the guts to make that necessary, but scary change. The time is now, CB. Do it, please, so I don’t get anymore gray hair.

You know, I also like to be kind Mr. R and funny Mr. R and even silly Mr. R, too. I like having fun with my students because I love them. Even the ones who make me think that working in another industry sounds fun sometimes.

See you tomorrow.

It was going to be an interesting sunrise yesterday, for sure.

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