Today I had one of those occurrences that make all the positive aspects of teaching worthless in keeping my morale up. For a bit of background to help understand the situation, I hate air fresheners. Almost all of them give me a headache and almost none of them carry a pleasant odor. Unfortunately many students love artificial fragrances and a stupid substitute brought in a giant can of air freshener and left it. One of the kids found it a few days ago, so I had confiscated it and put it behind my desk so it wouldn't be used anymore. Unfortunately for me, one of my least favorite students returned to school today after an eight-day absence, went behind my desk, grabbed the air freshener and started saturating the room with the foul stuff. I immediately went over to him, reminded him that I don't allow that crap to be sprayed in my room and reached my hand out for him to hand the can over. Instead he sprayed me.
My vision flashed white. The last time that happened, I was in the eighth grade and it ended with me in ISS. I actually have no memory of the actual fight. I do remember him reaching over my shoulder to grab a fry off of my tray, me turning around to tell him that he better not do that again, and then him poking me in the throat while telling me that I better not tell him that again. Then the whiteness spread over my vision like a floodlight shined into my eyes and I don't remember anything until I was already halfway to the office to turn myself in. Apparently after the poke in the throat I punched the kid a couple of times and then walked away, the other guy too shocked to have done anything but sit there and take it. Considering the fact that I spent three days in ISS, I really hope that I actually did land a couple of punches, but I can only rely on the word of my friends who were sitting at my table, and they're rarely trustworthy with a lie is more entertaining.
Luckily for my financial future, this time it was just a momentary flash and I was able to just point to the door and tell him to go to the office instead of beating the snot out of him. 15 years of personal growth makes a lot of difference in my self control.
And being maced wasn't the end of it. There was his wandering in circles, attempts to look cool, veiled threats, and bowing up at me like I was another greasy teen. There was my flat repetition of the same command, until he finally translated my English into his White Trash and left.
I spent most of the rest of the afternoon fantasizing about what I would have done if he'd actually made a physically threatening move. I'll refrain from details, because they probably could be misconstrued in a court of law and leave me in jail when this kid gets offed by his drug dealer one day. There could have been something running through my mind about smashing him in the face with my chrome stapler (my teacher bling) and then stomping him into the tobacco juice stained carpet. Of course that could have been what ran through my mind that afternoon, or it could have been my happy place where I buy icecream cones for fluffy bunnies. There's no way you can prove it wasn't.
So I thought about my happy place with a dreamy smile on my face while the kids watched the old black and white version of Julius Caesar with the wooden Charlton Heston as Antony to catch them up with the section of the play we didn't get a chance to read.
The good news is that since I've set my personal deadline* my frustrations with students have been much easier to deal with. Instead of being entirely antisocial and fuming about my constant emasculation all evening and annoying K with my refusal to speak, I was able to enthusiastically reenact the event for K with much embellishment and wild tangential tales that worked some of my daydreams into the story as if they actually had been reality.
And when we went out to eat last night, I may have though about being confronted by the kid in the dining room, but I laughed to myself at the thought instead of seething.
Vulgarity and condescension rock.