Overly Attached Students

Nothing major to report this week.  Not too much bus nonsense.  I think the cooler temperatures have helped to curb the psychotic impulses of my fellow commuters immensely.  Despite riding a bus yesterday that looked like it belonged in an Indian slum with a donkey strapped to the back

Like this (although not in a slum and the donkey is missing)

the most exciting incident to occur was a pack of teenage girls (my absolute least favorite segment of the human population) talking about some girl at their school whose hair, allegedly, smells of corn chips.

A Google search for ‘corn chip hair’ revealed this image:

so apparently this is an epidemic in the weave community.

P.S. I kind of hope the government is spying on my Internet search history.  ‘Corn chip hair’ and ‘what does meth smell like?’ (thanks Breaking Bad) and ‘cats in sweaters’ are among my most recent searches.

One of my classes still dons a collective and unflinching bitchy-resting-face every day, warm weather or not.  Seriously.  I think I could strip naked and dance the Charleston while using a gay, Jewish ventriloquist dummy to sing “Throw Some D’s” and they would still look at me like this:


Such is life.  Luckily my other classes are pretty fun.

I do have one student, though, who is already beginning to make me sweat in that socially awkward way that only a certain type of student can.  I call these my Misplaced Friendship students.  My wanna-be BFF’s.  My overly-attached students.  They make me cringe with a fierceness that rivals the time I tried to watch Eraserhead.

Oh sweet baby in the manger! Her cheeks! Please make it stop!

I’m pretty petite.  I’m nice (trust me, knowing that I can save all my diatribe for my blog allows me to store it safely in little lead bottles until I can unleash it safely – they will never know my true form!), and I look pretty young (I almost always get mistaken for a student on the first day of class).  Because of this, fortunately, I think students find me pretty approachable.  They don’t seem to feel uncomfortable asking me questions about their essays or stopping by my office.  I like this.  UN (big emphasis on the un here)fortunately, some of them also feel the need to approach me in ways that I find less desirable.  Maybe they’re like sociopathic dogs who can smell my social anxiety and use it for evil.

I had a student a couple of years ago – we’ll call her Molly.  Molly had the most adorable daughter ever.  I know this, because Molly showed me several pictures of her.

Molly’s kid petting a goat.

Molly’s kid staring vacantly.

Molly’s kid singing karaoke on the bar at Applebee’s.

That’s cool.  I like kids.  Molly came to class, did her work and didn’t cause me any additional stress.  She was the best kind of student, so I was happy to feed her motherly ego by doting on her spawn (she really was an adorable kid).  But one day Molly stopped showing up to class as often and when she did, she appeared to be on the verge of tears.  I didn’t ask questions.  I didn’t want to pry.  I’m private, and I certainly wouldn’t have liked my teachers butting into my personal business when I was in school.  And, let’s face it, I really don’t know how to clean up my student’s emotional diarrhea.  I’m ill-equipped.

However, Molly sent me an e-mail and asked if we could meet to discuss her setbacks in class.  I agreed.  Here’s how that conversation played out:

Molly:  I’m really sorry I’ve been missing class lately.  I’ve just been having some (holding back tears) personal issues lately that I’ve been having to deal with.

My Brain’s Reaction:

Me:  (Thinking – quick, neutralize this – don’t mention the tears, whatever you do) That’s OK!  You have to take care of yourself first, and then worry about class.  You’re not too far behind, so I think we can get you caught up pretty easily.  I’ll give you an extension on this past essay.  If you can turn it in by Friday, I won’t deduct any late points.

Molly:  (Full blown tears streaming down her face now) Thank you so much.  That really means a lot.  You’ve really been a great teacher this semester. (Full blown sobbing/rocking/mucus explosion)


Molly:  It’s just my boyfriend kicked me and my daughter out and changed the locks.  We’ve been sleeping in our car.

My Brain’s Reaction:

Me:  Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that.  I can’t imagine how difficult that must be for you.  (Pausing.  Thinking – what do I do? What do I do? I’m not trained for this!  This is the opposite of the type of situation I find acceptable!) Do you have anywhere you can go?

(We ended up talking for a little while.  I gave her as much awkward advice as I could manage.  I feel incredibly unqualified to give life advice to anyone.  Evidence:

I just threw away a bottle of cough syrup that had a 2010 expiration date on it.

I used a lint roller to dust my television.  Then I rolled my cat with it.

I once dumped out an entire cup of coffee by trying to hold it and twist a door knob at the same time.

Once I put a casserole dish in the oven with a plastic lid on it and convinced myself I was dying for hours afterward due to inhaling the toxic fumes of melted plastic.

Anyway, I tried.  I really did feel so terrible for her.  I wished that I were so many other people at that moment so I could have at least said something useful or comforting.  I did direct her to the school counselor.  However, my reward for was this):

Molly:  I – thank you so much – You are such a sweet person (my students are such poor judges of my character).  Can I just – Can I give you a hug?

What was I going to say to this poor, damp-faced, homeless single-mom with her car baby?  “No, I’m sorry, that would be inappropriate.”   I couldn’t do that.  I’m a human with a real heart, even if it is encased in the carbon-black shell of my general antipathy for most humans.

Me:    OK

Now let me just preface this by saying I am the word class champion of disliking hugs.  Seriously.  Even from my favorite family members.  Even from my best friends.  I find this kind of physical contact regrettably and incredibly uncomfortable.  My friends have slowly inoculated me to their touch by forcing hugs on me without regard for my hives and cold sweats.  For that, I thank them.  But still, from most people, especially people I don’t know, hugs are about as welcome to me as a gentle pepper spraying in my face or the light slicing of my Achilles tendon.  Rewarding me in hugs is like paying me in AskJeeves stock.  So here’s how this hug played out.

Replace the game show and laughter with a conference room and tears and this is a pretty accurate depiction of the hug:

Some students aren’t quite sure about boundaries and I suppose I’m not standoffish enough to make that outline more rigidly black and white.

So this semester I have a student who told me on the first day that she has ‘emotional problems’ (her words).  My immediate reaction was dread, of course.  I’m just envisioning all the possible uncomfortable scenarios these ‘emotional problems’ might create for me.  I imagine her crying, asking for hugs or throwing one of her many lanyards at another student.  I imagine outbursts, books thrown through windows or, worst of all, more forced hugs.  None of it sounds pleasant.  It’s not that I don’t think this student has a right to an education.  Of course she does.  But dealing with someone with ‘emotional problems’ doesn’t really feel like it should be part of my job.  “But it’s fine,” I’ve been telling myself, “I’ll deal with it,” I told myself.  “She’s a nice human,” I keep saying.

But every day before class as I’m preparing my materials, she’s sitting right in the front row talking to me.  About nothing and everything.  About the outfits her family buys for their cat (who, I’m assuming, finds this about as appealing as I do)

About her commute to class that morning and how she stepped on gum.  About the toothpaste she uses for her sensitive teeth.

She offered to bring me some of her old essays so I could read them (because, you know, my favorite way to take a break from reading student essays is to read more student essays).

Yesterday, this conversation happened:

Her:  Do you like pink and purple?

Me:  Sure, they’re alright I guess.  Why do you ask?

Her: (Handing me two CD’s in pink and purple cases) These are CD’s of my piano music.  Well, not like piano music I like to listen to, but like me playing the piano.

Me:  Oh…that’s –

Her:  This one’s the piece I auditioned with to get a scholarship here. (whispering) I got $8,000!  I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging.  I know you’re not really supposed to talk about money.

Me:  No, that’s…it’s…that’s fine.

I think the conversation continued a little more after this.  I don’t quite remember.  I was too busy wishing I could do this:

I want to be nice and compassionate and helpful, but these types of students truly challenge my patience.

I’ll round out this entry by asking this:  Is anyone else irrationally annoyed when people type ‘Ahhhh’ when what they clearly mean is ‘Awwwww’?  For example, I post this picture:

AKA – a picture so cute it will break your face!

And someone responds, ‘Ahhhhh, he’s too cute!  My face is thoroughly broken!’

Let me explain.  The appropriate response is ‘Awwww.’

Ah (one h) could = a sudden revelation, such as Raquel Rodriguez of Destinos fame explicating the mystery of la carta:

Nostalgia, former español students!

Ahhhh (multiple h’s) could = one’s reaction to drinking a cold beverage, as heard at the end of this 90’s Pepsi commercial:

Or perhaps, when extra a’s are added as well,  a terrified scream, like that indicated in the cartoon ‘Aaahh!!! Real Monsters’:

It never means that something is cute.  So when someone writes ‘Ahhhh!  That’s so cute’ I picture them drinking the blood of the cute creature, smacking their lips in delight and sighing ‘Ahhhh!’ or screaming in horror because cute things are somehow terrifying.  These are the types of things I can’t ever really mention without sounding like a total and complete shrew or crazy person.  But alas, I want to see if I’m alone in this or if others are bothered as well, so there you have it.


6 responses »

  1. Crap… I was the overly attached student. Just. Just crap.

    LOVE the Destinos reference, though. As always, your video clips and awwwdorable pictures are spot on. I, too, become annoyed with Ahh vs. Aww.

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