I often joke about how many times I have to repeat myself before (almost) everyone gets it. There’s that old saw about people having to hear something seven times before they remember it. Well, make that more like 10, multiply it by 150 (because you KNOW they ain’t all listening at once, not by any stretch of the imagination), and you start to understand what we’re up against. That’s 1500, by the way, for the math impaired. And while admittedly that is an exaggeration, I am sure the real number is well into three figures. Per day.

“I swear, you guys have the memory of a goldfish.”

“The memory of a what?”

“My dog learns faster than you–”

“You have a–”

“–And he’s dead.”

“How sad. Are you going to get another one?”

“How was it on Jupiter?”

“What? Oh…fine.”

“Alzheimer’s must be tough at your age.”

“I thought it was Old Timer’s.” (Really. Several of them have said that in all seriousness.)

“I’ll bet you didn’t think you’d need your head today, so it’s still sitting on the kitchen counter by your notebook.”

“Nuh uh! My head’s right here.” Pointing at head.

“Where’s your notebook?”


But the junior high mind doesn’t work any better at thinking about the future. It can’t see past the next five minutes. Wait, make that three minutes.

They have trouble connecting actions with consequences. They think that thinking about something (or intending to do it) is the same as doing it. They think that saying you’re sorry is the same as being sorry. They believe in infinite second chances.

So it’s always such a surprise to them when the chances run out, and I have to get all, you know, hard-ass on them. (Ooooooh! He said ass.)

This year I have a pair of shmarties who, even if they don’t know it yet and would never admit it, are having a bromance. They’re always poking at each other and stealing each other’s pencils and complaining to me about the other. And yet they always partner up every time I allow it, and then complain that the other is cheating, or lagging, or distracting. They sit near each other because I need them close to me, within range of the Stick. I tell them that way I can get them both at once.

Anyway, last Friday after they had finished their tests, they kept nudging each other and trying to show off their after-test doodles (with the “clicker nightmare” theme) and giggling. After the obligatory three or four rounds of shushing and insincere I’m sorrying, I was starting to lose my mellow Friday groove.

“Just stop. Technically, talking during a test is cheating.”


Uh huh.

After a couple MORE rounds of this (you know how it is–it’s almost more work to punish them than it is to sort of not hear it, but…) I finally stalk over to Bro #1’s desk and grab his test paper.

The top of the Friday test sheet is filled with non-clicker warm up scores and extra credit points and other such stuff that’s in their notebooks but not my gradebook. If they don’t record it there, they don’t get it. So there are all sorts of codes and abbreviations: w/u: 5/6,  vocab +2,  old glory +1. This would translate to, “I got 5/6 on the non-clicker warm up, I got at least 10/12 on Wednesday’s vocabulary pretest so that’s a +2, and I was one of the few (!?) who knew what “Old Glory” is a nickname for.”

So I grab Bro-One’s paper and with my fine purple pen I scrawl,

“PIA -3”

“And that’s a gift. Now just stop acting like you’re five.”

“What’s PIA mean? And why did you write -3?”

“PIA stand for Pain in Ass. And the -3 is instead of the -40 I should oughta be giving you. Now just stop.”

“You mean I lose three points?’

“How is it you say…? Oh yes.  Duh.”

Oh you should have seen the boo-boo lip come out. I thought I was going to get tears over a lousy three points.


You see what I’m talking about?

The best part is Bro-Two then starts working his partner, and gets a -4 for taunting. And then it’s just a war of attrition. By the time the dust settles, they’re both down about 10 and close to tears.

Fridays are usually pretty uneventful.