Thursday, April 26, 2007

A Regular Rollercoaster Ride

Ah, this job. How I love it. How many jobs can boast that one day at work can bring uplifting, joyous encounters with some children...and also infuriating, bitter, ugly moments with others?
First I will tell you of the sweetness. Pictured here are soap sculptures that were made by a human civilizations class studying Inuit culture. It's hard to tell from the picture, but these works of art were made with subtlety and a simple beauty that I have never seen in student work. Seals, whales, fisherman, polar bears, owls and kayaks are among the more popular subjects. Anyway, yesterday a 6th grade boy was visiting the library in the afternoon. He is chubby-cheeked, has braids sticking out of the top of his head, and has a slightly girlish face. I love this guy. On his way out, he stopped at the display case that contains the soap sculptures and said, "I can name all these sculptures!"
I thought, Cool, this kid knows a think or two about Inuits, or Alaska, or animals, or something.
He points at a sculpture and says, "That's Zest." He continues, "That's Irish Spring, that's Dove, that's Zest again, and Dial..." On and on he goes, naming all of the soaps in the case. I thought I was going to pee my pants. At the same time, I wanted to hug him. He was showing me what he knew. He was serious and proud that he could name them all. It was great.
Later, an 8th grade class came in to use the computers. One student kept asking if she could leave. "Why?"
"Cause I don't want to be here, that's why!"
I wasn't sure what to think of that. What the heck did she mean? It was confusing that a students would so casually ask to be dismissed from class, from school, because she didn't want to be there. Then I thought, Who am I to force her to be here anyway? I am often uncomfortable with that part of my job. On her way out at the end of class (when she was supposed to leave) she said, "Racist white bitch."
Warm soap fuzzy negated. Back to neutral. Darn.

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