In fact, the last time I worked with these kids I was wrangling them backstage at their big dance event a few weeks ago, and I was not their favorite person then. One pair of boys was misbehaving over and over again, and I finally looked one in the eye and said,
"Do you know who I am?"Given that history, I was glad no one ran screaming away from me. In fact, they brought their poems to me gladly and accepted my corrections and comments gratefully. I felt bad when I had to make corrections--as if correct spelling were the most important thing about their work. (Truly, by the time they're in college, many of them will believe that, or a version of it.) I tried to praise the energy, the idea, the form, first, and then move on to how "tragedy"* is really spelled, or why "putteet" isn't the same as "petite." They nodded and went back to work, hunching over their desks intently.
"I'm Nick's mom."
"OK, so if you know that, I'm sure Nick has also told you that I'm not very nice. In fact, I'm kind of mean. So you want to do what I say, OK?"
Another, more energetic, still nervous nod. And, for what it's worth, good behavior for the next quarter hour or so.
So that's what Nick is missing this week, though I'm hoping he'll make it in tomorrow. The idea is that he'll take cupcakes in, in the time-honored tradition of celebrating summer birthdays before the end of the year.
Oh, and the title of this post? I'm doing all this--helping out in the classroom, staying home with a sick kid, planning to bake cupcakes--without caffeine. But more on that another time. This has gone on too long already.
*I believe this poem was about being buried by paperwork. It was one of my favorites.
[edited to add: Nick has liked this project so much--and, to be fair, is so bored at home--that he just asked me to go in and pick it up for him so he could work on it at home.]