Thursday, March 18, 2010

Holy Hormones, Batman!

When I showed up for my Volunteer Time in Derek's classroom today, I was all fired-up to tackle 4th-grade Writer's Workshop. Bring on the commas and semi-colons! Let's analyze those Themes and Morals and whatnot!  Ahem. Instead, as I quietly slipped into the back of the room and took a seat to await instructions, I was treated to an unscheduled Class Discussion about (apparently unacceptable) Recess Behavior...and (evidently questionable) Personal Hygiene.

Issue #1: It seems that after a winter chock-full of epic snowstorms, weeks and weeks and WEEKS of indoor recess, and unseasonably warm March temperatures, the 10-year old Natives are bursting with Spring-fever-induced short: Running Amok. Teacher patiently reminded them to make good choices, think about their behavior (i.e: cease acting like Wild Playground Savages), and that was that.

But then, there was Issue #2: Teacher smoothly changed the subject, mentioning that as the temperatures continue (hopefully!) to rise, and the students spend more time running around and playing, it is important to: shower every night. (At this point, I guiltily did a surreptitious-armpit-sniff, since I had come to her classroom straight from Hip-Hop Dance. But wait! I cleaned up and changed clothes at the studio, so I promise I was not responsible for any odor!) She went on to explain that while they still "smelled like kids" right now, soon they would "smell more like pre-teens". "What do kids smell like?" one voice piped up.  "Dirt," she answered decisively. "What about pre-teens?" She wrinkled her nose, "Sweat!" She matter-of-factly went on to explain that if anyone wanted to talk to their parents about deodorant, the could certainly do so when they got home. (I'll just BET dinner conversation was a show-stopper in many houses tonight!)

So there I sat, choking back snorts of laughter, trying desperately to avoid meeting her eyes so that I could maintain at least a semi-adult-professional demeanor in front of the impressionable children.  Fortunately for me, at that point the natural smart-aleckness of 4th-graders took over, and one boy (Derek's best friend, incidentally) proclaimed that he had "3 kinds of Axe Body Spray at home!" There were appreciative titters among his classmates--however, I was thinking, "I'm pretty sure he's making that up, but please don't let him decide to wear that stuff to school, especially all at the same time!" Another boy (Derek's OTHER best friend) declared that he would spray his feet...since they were so hairy...And that clearly  signaled the end of any rational discussion. It was time to somehow rally for a Social Studies lesson.

And what did I learn today? You just never know what you're in for when you sign up for that innocent-sounding Classroom Volunteer position. Sometimes it's Native American reports, sometimes it's "Our Bodies, Ourselves" (the Introductory Version, at least). So when Teacher apologetically asked me to go cut paper and draw timelines, rather than working with kids today, I gratefully seized the chance. It meant I got to escape to the safety of the peaceful Teachers' Lounge instead of remaining in the Hormonal Pit of 4th Grade. And later, I'll have to see how Derek feels about deodorant...

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