This afternoon, I asked my friend and colleague, in his experiences with junior high, how many times he could remember seeing two seventh grade boys hugging. Sincerely.
“Like a man-hug, or a real one?”
“What’s a man hug?”
“You know, you start out with the soul shake, and then you pull in and sorta bump chests, and then the other hand sorta slaps the back.”
“Not that kind.”
“I knew it. It was a first for me too!”
Milk and Cheese, the “True That” boys, were at it again. They were moving their desks closer together (again), like they like to do, and jabbering nonsense. Nothing major, and technically it was before class, but I said,
“Well the quarter does end Friday, and I change up the seating chart every quarter, so next week I get to move you guys far, far apart.”
One of our recent vocabulary words was crestfallen. I should have taken a picture of them to use as an example. Milk holds out both arms pleadingly (and it if it wasn’t sincere, he should be an actor) and says,
“But…But…But… What about The Team?”
OMG. The class is dying. Half of them are happy to see me break up The Team, some are as crestfallen as Milk at the prospect. All are laughing. I’m trying not to (well, not very hard).
“You can’t break up the team. It won’t be as fun.”
“I was thinking I might put you in opposite corners or something like that.”
“You know this is why you love this class. We make it better. It won’t be as much fun.”
At this point, there’s quite a hullaballoo, but I’m playing my hard-case role (sorta).
“I don’t know. You guys drive me batty.”
Now, they both wail “oh no” like Apache squaws mourning their dead, and leaning across the (narrowed) aisle between them, they bust a full hug, like they’re never going to see each other again. This is my 16th year teaching junior high, and outside of sports celebrations, this is the first time I have witnessed such a thing.
Now the class is really “off the hook” as they say. I just put my head down on my podium, and let it wash over me.
“This is what I’m talking about. This is what The Team does to this class. But I see what you mean. Kinda. Let’s see how things go this week…”