I'm not feeling so hot today. I'm on cold medicine that's making me loopy, alternating between a stuffed and a runny nose, and my energy is zapped. It's the last period of the school day, and the class that was scheduled to come to the library canceled. So, my three eighth-grade student clerks (Alfonso, Jesus, and Khalil) have little to do. I've let them just chill together, and watching them has been enlightening. I knew this, of course, but these boys are really, really nice. Just a minute ago, I admitted to them that I was feeling tired and didn't want to do a whole heckuva lot of work.
Alfonso said, "Just rest, miss."
Khalil followed with, "We can handle it. We can handle everything here."
Jesus rounded it out with a humorous, "You really should get some Vapo Rub miss. You do sound quite congested."
When the main office called a few minutes ago to say there were two packages that needed to be picked up, they bickered over who would go get them! And how have they chosen to spend this rare free time (I don't normally believe in free time for students)? They are shopping for books online, visiting author websites to see when their next books are being released, watching movie previews for Twilight, the hottest new book-to-movie about vampires,making short movies on the computer, and reading. And these are not dorky kids. They're just soooo nice.
A girl, Iris, arrived not too long ago to join them. When she walked in she said, "It's a slow day today in the main office", which is where she has her service job. She fit right in with the pack, discussing the various vampire series each has read.
Mysteriously, Jesus came into my office to ask what accounting irregularities are. I explained. Not too long after, he returned to ask what Tarmac is. Again, I explained. When I asked him what he was doing, he said reading a book about cars. Ok. He also wanted to know why our computers had such an old version of Flash. I didn't know what to say to that. Jesus is cooler than I am, I think. Certainly more curious.
My point is, I think, that middle school boys have a bad reputation that many of them do not deserve. I don't remember too many boys being this nice when I was their age, I will admit. My dad, I have been told, was not this nice. Although maybe he was this nice to someone. Maybe these guys are just this nice to me? I don't think so. I think they're nice all the time. Right now, crazy as this seems, I hear what I believe is Mozart wafting across the library. I think they're listening to Mozart! And remember, not dorks. Not at all.
No one knows that there are boys like this in an overcrowded, low-performing school in South Central Los Angeles. People think that the boys here are violent, hard, mean, or maybe dumb. I listen to Alfonso, Jesus, and Khalil talk about what they're planning to read next. I watch Alfonso help Khalil print out, cut, and laminate bookmarks with images from Khalil's favorite new series of books. I watch Jesus and Iris work on this movie together with absolutely no awareness of the usual tension kids of these age feel towards members of the opposite sex.
By the way, Jesus just came over and exclaimed, "Funky! Disco night is back on!"
I don't really know why he did this.
Anyway. I need to start a campaign to project this image of urban boys. Anyone would like these three. And they have friends. Lots of friends who are just like them. It makes me happy in the midst of my head cold.