As I have said before, the three-word phrase is a principal means of “communication” for the middle school beast. Since I last posted about this topic, I have remembered a few more favorites.

1) “I don’t care.” This one persists into high school. And beyond. And it often begins well before junior high. What it really means is: “I can’t possibly admit I care, because I think it’s too late to do anything about it. And you probably won’t believe the excuse I make up anyway. I’m ready for the worst, so there.”

“Grades will probably get mailed out this week by Wednesday. So you should start dogging the mailman about Friday. Haha.”

“I don’t care.” Only the people with F’s say that. Or A+’s.

2) “S’not my fault.” Ditto above with respect to onset and persistence. Nothing is EVER your fault in seventh grade.

(on the Friday rounds) “Got some KBAR for me, baby?”

“Ummm. (lots of rummaging) I don’t have it…but…s’not my fault. I asked my mom to sign but she left for my brother’s thing and…”

“What about the other three nights of signatures, and the response?”

“S’not my fault. I left my notebook at school.”

“And whose fault is that?”

“I have ADD.” (Yes, they actually say that sometimes.)

I wave my Stick around. “Here’s how the nuns cured my ADD.” (That, and massive, old-school doses of Ritalin.)

3) “I hate math.” Ok, this is only about 90% of them. But one of the reasons I added the math questions to the YEE quizzes at the end of the year, was that I got sick of hearing, “What’s 32/40?” or the equivalent. I swore years ago that I would never answer that question again. I feel for their poor, poor math teachers. And every time I have a math-related Mental Floss question, the math issues surface again.

Clarification: Getting 100% on the YEE – Year End Essentials – quiz is a requirement for passing my class. It has evolved over the years, but it began when I was appalled at how many of them didn’t know about the earth going around the sun and spinning at the same time. We were reading the story in The Martian Chronicles called “The Earth Men,” and there’s a scene where one of the Martians mentions that the Earth is closer to Mars during that time of year. Very few of them understood what he meant. I started probing around. OMG. So the first YEE questions was born: -Draw a diagram of what a year and a day are, astronomically speaking. Then I added questions about Pearl Harbor and Independence Day, because they aren’t getting out of seventh grade without that in their brains. And it usually isn’t there when they get to me. They think the name of the holiday is Fourth of July.  Then the math questions and the parts-of-speech ones were added –so they can play MadLibs without embarrassing themselves. Finally, the most annoying and pervasive misspelling in seventh grade English (besides Jhonny). Beginning. It’s always begging, or begginning, or beggining.  But usually begging. What is it with that? Anyway, one version of the YEE is here. I usually give them 10 shots at it, and they always freak out that if they don’t get them all right they don’t pass (“You wouldn’t really flunk us if we don’t get them right?” “In a heartbeat.”) Even the ones who aren’t passing anyway start flipping out, and end up getting them all correct by the third try. Eventually every single one of them gets every question correct. It’s amazing what they can do when the incentive is there. I ask them why they didn’t do that all year, and I get the next three word phrase…

4) “I don’t know.” (Variation: “I’m not sure.”) Ditto “I don’t care” again. It usually means that they do know, but are unwilling to admit it, either to you or to themselves or both. Unless you’re calling on them when they’re not paying attention. Then they really don’t know. Or care. And it’s not their fault because they have ADD.

5) “I SAW you.”  At this time of year, I probably get this one more than any of the others (except “It’s not fair!”). The emphasis, for some reason, is always on the word SAW. They still cling to this concept that we teachers don’t exist outside of school.

“I SAW you… riding your bike home from school.”

“I have only done that every day for more than 16 years. It’s not hard to see me.”

“Yeah, but I SAW you. I yelled at you , but you didn’t hear me.”

“I guess not.” 😉

“I SAW you…at Trader Joe’s. Was that your son? I didn’t know you had a son.”

“You were at the same school with him last year.”

“Oh yeah. But I SAW you.”

“I SAW you…rollerblading yesterday.”

“Again, it’s not hard to see me. I do that every day after school. It’s keeps me from…well, let’s just say my attitude at school is a whole lot better when I skate.”

“Yeah, but I SAW you.”