Thursday, September 30, 2004

Girls cry; boys bounce their legs up and down in a nervous twitch

When there's something you don't yet understand, but must face a scantron test on it or well-written paper for a grade, it can indeed cause you to cry.

When I think back on my freshman year, the first in the dorm with my pink and blue floral comforter, raffia door bow and dry erase monogrammed message board, I think of the sage advice my mother once gave me. It was midnight. I had a paper due the next morning, early. It was a mess. I had no idea how to fix it, I remember this. She told me to go down the hall (to the community bathroom) and take a hot shower. She said, "I know you think you don't have time, but it'll relax you. You'll feel refreshed, and your head will clear."

I was distraught. I'm sure it was a final or something. I thought, "No time." And then I thought, "Okay. Shower." I just did what my momma told me, and you know what? She was right.

So today I held conferences with the freshmen. Their papers are these "I did this, and then I did this, and then this happened" kind of things. They are worth little in their current state, but worth plenty in the schema of stages of development. However, the freshmen don't know this. The freshmen think, "She doesn't like my paper. I have to rewrite the whole paper. "

So I called them up one-by-one to conference--a friendly chat. C'mon, don't suck your teeth at me. You know Ms. H is friendly if nothing else. Who's afraid of the big bad Ms. H? Jeremy. He twitched the whole time. He considers himself a reporter, a writer, folks. Therefore, he's nervous to confront the fact that he may not be good at his chosen profession. Becky, she's my girl, bubbly, friendly, thoughtful, but not intellectual, just a regular jo, but there, really getting involved. Her paper was a mess. We talked. She seemed like she understood. But she went back to her seat and stewed, and then had to leave to have a meltdown. Next was my little home-schooled high school senior, looking at me doe-eyed. As I explained in depth new approaches and perspectives, her eyes reddened right up.

I asked her what it was, not missing a beat, and told her to just let it out and not worry a bit about me. "You'll feel better, believe me." She held onto it, wiping her eyes. All she would say was, "It's personal," mixed in with, "But I don't understand how to rewrite the paper."

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