That's because I've been spending most of my waking hours at the school at which I'm teaching two Grade 9 Science courses this July. I usually arrive at around 7:40 in the morning, and haven't left earlier than 5:30 (today it was 6:20).
Regular classes in high schools these days are 75 minutes long, which are certainly long enough (I think universities and their 50-minute periods are right on the money). However, since these courses are compressed, each class is three hours long (with a "generous" 45-minute lunch break, which I usually spend marking like a fiend), and I'm teaching two of 'em. Six hours a day standing, talking for a good portion of it, and haranguing a bunch of 15-year old jerks isn't what I'd necessarily call a "walk in the park."
Actually, I take that back. There are a couple of "interesting characters" in these classes, and a couple of slackers/stoners, and a couple of kids who just sit there cluelessly. (Seeing as how this is a summer course designed to help kids pick up a credit that they'd failed the first time through, you're gonna get more than a few of those.) However, there's one kid who just out-weirds them all; click here to read the story.
"K" (let's use pseudonyms here) is only taking this class because s/he'd missed her/his final exam at her/his regular school, which (I guess) means you automatically fail the course. S/he claims s/he was given an exam timetable with incorrect information on it, but I think that's a dubious alibi — with my own kids, I make sure the day of the final exam is written everywhere in the classroom, on nineteen different handouts I give them, and (if possible) tattooed backwards on their foreheads.
The problem with K (one of them) is that s/he's in a "gifted" program at her/his regular school... and that is just the kiss of fucking death for a kid's development. You remember Malcolm in the Middle, with all the weirdos and freaks and doofuses in Malcolm's hyper-advanced class? They'd call K the oddball, I swear to god. A thought occurred to me after school today: "The worst thing about kids in a gifted program is that they know they're in a gifted program." But I digress.
I suppose part of the issue is that K is normally in an environment where s/he doesn't stand out quite so much. However, put K in a regular class, with regular kids (add the summer-school "rough around the edges" factor, too), and suddenly K doesn't know the first thing about interacting with people who aren't as freaky as s/he is.
This is trouble.
I always did pretty well in school, and I admit that I was probably on the weird end of the kid-spectrum growing up. The difference is, I knew I had certain peculiarities even from a young age (I remember coming to this realization in Grade 1 one day out on the playground), and that gives a kid something with which to work. K, on the other hand, carries on in her/his own bizarre way, inadvertently pissing off everyone around her/him (hell, it might be intentional, I don't know), and making feeble attempts using highfalutin' words to perhaps put up a verbal fight.
Seriously, K sits in class hour after hour and makes up her/his own word-puzzles. When the other kids ask her/him what the hell s/he's doing, K cranks up the weirdness and spouts off something about history or scientific discoveries or the fact that s/he speaks "a real language which you've never heard of" (I wish I was making this up). This, of course, sparks an incredulous reaction from her/his classmates, which just cranks them up even more.
I had a little chat with K after class today, when all the other kids had gone. (Actually, two kids were still in the room at the time, but when they started to hear what I had to say, they very quickly ascertained they shouldn't be in the room for it. Hell, I don't care; there's too much secrecy these days anyway. Kids need to know the whole story, rather that just getting bits and pieces doled-out by the Grown Ups.)
Basically, I told K that her/his outward contempt for the inferior abilities of her/his classmates, whether real or not, in conversation with said classmates, might one day get her/his "ass kicked." I added, "Sometimes you've got to keep your head up and look out for your own well-being, and so far you're not doing that." I don't know if it sunk into K's skull or not — we'll see on Monday — but I'm really not holding out a lot of hope.
I'm just curious to know if any of her/his previous teachers ever took her/him aside and told her/him something like that. Lord knows K needed it.
Anyway, the moral of the story is, after four 10- or 11-hour days of being at the school (then doing some work at home, to boot; and when not doing work, I'm worrying about why I'm not doing any work, and feeling guilty about not doing any work), I feel like I've been hit by a dump truck. Initially I was all set to fill my body with copious amounts of liquor tonight, but on the way home an idea dawned on me: dinner at a pub whilst playing NTN trivia (you know, the questions up on the TV screens, and the little keyboards at your table), coming home, getting a book, and being in bed by 11.
The booze will have to wait for tomorrow, and plans are already in the works. If you're up for a night of sitting and drinking at a picnic table near Christie Pits (right near Christie Station on the Bloor line), drop me a line. (BYOB, obviously... but, word to the wise, Labatt Honey is cheap again these days.)