• David Lane Williams

Angels Cursing Like Sailors

I’m six months into this teaching gig, and it’s time for an update. (Click right here if you’re interested in how this nutty experiment started.) For those of you not interested in clicking over to that previous post, suffice it to say I teach 7th-grade science, where six months in the chalkboard trenches is like eleven years in other professions. Parents, you’re the intended audience for this post, so listen up because I’ve immersed in the Rosetta Stone course for Conversational Adolescent. I’m here to help.

First off, your kid curses. I mean a lot, like a shanghaied sailor who never fully learned English and simply uses four-letter words in place of nouns and verbs. (e.g. “Bleep! It’s my bleeping turn to be the bleeping goalie, you bleeping bleeper.”) Yes, I’m talking about your kid, the one who wears pink every day, wants glitter at her wedding, and makes her own hair bows. Yep, the smiling cherub who smeared jelly on his precious cheeks while eating toast at your breakfast table this morning. Your twelve-year-old's are veteran potty-mouths. I bleeping swear.

As a public service, I’ve started teaching them foreign swear words. I’ve explained in my “patient voice” that they are not, in fact, good at swearing. This caught their attention more than my planned lecture on taxonomy, so I veered off the path and told them using profanity for every other word tends to dilute the purpose. Like typing exclamation points while slurping hot toddies, cursing is best experienced rarely and in moderation, lest we all write as if we’re screaming and tipsy!!!

This week’s word was “behookie,” a Scottish offering meaning (as I understand it) buttocks. Behookie has all the perks such as being an unknown to authority figures (which, when you’re twelve, is everyone older than twelve), a fun-sounding word with a hard K sound, and a word that can easily be paired with other words for new meaning: Behookie Face, Behookie Hole, Behookie Itch. You get the idea. Next week’s word is taHqeq, a Klingon word meaning…better just let you use Google translate app for that one.

Second, you can’t teach cellular mitosis to a heartbroken adolescent. Sure, there’s probably that forty-year veteran out there who could pull it off, but I don’t have that superpower. Heartbreak after a four day love affair, including the weekend, is devastating. I made the mistake of making light of such a saga a few weeks back. I said something monumentally stupid like, “Let’s get your mind off that with a quiz!” In retrospect, I should’ve held off on the exclamation point.

The quiz came back tear-stained, smeared, filled out in purple ink, and 100% inaccurate. You can call it “just puppy love” if you dare, but I’m going to treat campus breakups as if those involved just lost all their hair to a bad Toni perm. It’s some demoralizing mother-bleeping bleep, and we’re pretty awful adults if we lose sight of that.

Third, I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but there is some serious misinformation going on around the World Wide Web. Some examples of late:

  • Boy behookie-holes are WAY bigger than girl behookie-holes (involving a vague notion that this all has something to do with making babies).

  • Coronavirus is rampant in the lunch room. The library is safe for now.

  • Some guy named Elvis is still alive and well, and he teaches AP math.

  • That hacked-up finger from twenty years ago is still floating around in a bowl of Wendy’s chili.

  • One time there was this fifth-grader who prank-called his teacher, but she knew it was him because of caller ID, so she went to his house and murdered him, and she stole his dog, and he got an F. No, Mr. Williams, for real. It was on Snap Chat.

Finally, your child is missing all of his/her pencils, paper, notebooks, and ID lanyard. Thankfully, his/her phone is okay. (Update: No one has threatened to sue me for phone confiscation, AKA “civil rights violations” since October.) Bless you if you read this and take your student to the store for new supplies. Unfortunately, they will all be lost by Thursday. The phone will make it home just fine.

One more thought: At some point students from band, drama, orchestra, journalism club, football, Font Club, competitive archery, the Debate Society, and/or The Online Gamers Group will come home with a catalog and an order sheet, which they will be challenged to use while selling crap for that week’s fundraiser. If you send them back to school with the form and tell them, “Ask your teachers if they’d like to buy some,” you’re a horrible bleeping person.

See you at the next parent-teacher conference. Let’s make it pot luck.