Last spring a new student arrived from Another Southern State who made quite an impression.
For one, he some of the reddest hair I have ever seen. And a personality to match. To say that the Red Headed Fireball is a handful is putting it mildly. He could tear up your classroom like nobody's business. The fact that he arrived at about three weeks before our Very Big Deal Government Mandated tests, when we were reviewing for the year - and keep in mind, he just came here - he was a bit lost. And so he acted out. A lot. Some days he drove me so batty that I'd send him down to Mrs. Eagle's class just to give everyone a break.
He also had a pretty tragic story, primarily he was orphaned and had moved in with his aunt and uncle who were planning on adopting him. At least he had somebody, but it doesn't make up for the fact that he'd lost his parents before he hit seventh grade. That's tough. We were told if he had issues to send him to guidance.
And one day I had him out in the hallway because he was doing something disruptive - again - and giving him yet another talk about behavior and manners and expectations, and I made some comment about losing my own dad barely a year earlier and things all of a sudden changed. He wanted to talk to me about losing my dad and losing his dad and next thing I knew, I had a Read Headed Fireball that took every chance he could to be in my room.
That hasn't changed.
My new room is on the corner of the 7th and 8th grade hallway, so most 8th graders have to go by in the morning to get to their classes, including My Read Headed Fireball. Every morning I get a hug and a conversation about how he's doing. In the afternoons he tried to sneak down when bus riders are dismissed, but kept getting caught by Mrs. Sparrow, one of the assistant principals, because he is supposed to go out the 8th grade door, not the 7th. Mrs. Sparrow came to me this past week and said that he is constantly trying to come down to my room and would I mind it horribly if he did come down during 8th grade homeroom because his homeroom teacher has her hands full (and boy does she - I saw her roster and it's a nightmare bunch). I said it wouldn't be a problem. His homeroom teacher was elated.
So now, the Red Headed Fireball, shows up at my door at 1:50, when I'm still teaching my 6th period. He goes quietly to my desk, where he starts on his homework, fixes my marble calendar for the next day, cleans up my desk, and generally makes himself useful. Once my kids go to their lockers, he'll want to have a discussion about his day and how it went and about football practice and all sorts of things.
And then he shows up, like he did on Thursday, when he's having a melt-down about something. He no longer wants to go to guidance, but wants to sit in my room. No problem. I called his music teacher, told her what was up (some kid made some comment about his mother, which You Do Not Do to a kid who has lost a parent) and she said keep him. He sat in on my third period, my largest class, which also has an aide in there with me. He did his work, alphabetized my kids assignments, helped hand out and collect laptops, and generally was useful. By the end of the day when he came by he was fine - the kid apologized for the "your momma" comment - and we were back obsessing about football.
This Red Headed Fireball needs a lot of mothering and apparently he has chosen me to do it.
And that's fine with me.