There is a lot of hugging in junior high. The school handbook says: “Refrain from showing affection physically while at school. Holding hands is permitted, while hugging and kissing are not.”
But, as with a lot of things in junior high, there isn’t much enforcement. Most of the time it doesn’t bother me… but when they want to hug me… well, that’s a different story.
“Can I have a hug.” This from a girl with a very chaotic home life, to whom I was cutting a little slack. It’s more of a statement than a question.
“I don’t hug.”
“You’re mean.” This is one of the default responses they use when confronted with input they don’t want to accept – others include: “It’s not fair!” and “This is boring.”
“Lemme have a hug.”
“I have a personal bubble this far around me…nobody can penetrate it. Everyone must stay this far away.” I extend my arms out to either side and swing them around.
“Whatever. How about ‘handshake’?” Her voice drips with sarcasm.
“You guys are too germy.” I offer her the fist bump Howie Mandel uses because he’s germophobic.
She takes that, rolling her eyes.
Early this year, while I was explaining to one of the new seventh graders that the MYOB that is always on the board stands for Mind Your Own Bidness, one of my students from last year (who should know better) dropped in from behind, and got a drive-by hug in before I could deploy the bubble.
“You know better than that.”
“I know, but I couldn’t help it. Eighth grade is sooo boring. Can’t you teach eighth grade?”
“Much as I enjoyed having you as a student, I don’t think we need to spend another year together. We’d probably get sick of each other.”