At this point in my career, about half my subbing jobs are requests. I like requests because I know the kids, they know me, and it makes it a little easier to deal with them. I always welcome requests, except for one: my best friend’s class. (and she’s probably reading this: Hi Friend! :P)
My best friend is an amazing teacher who works with a special day class of 4th and 5th graders. She has 12 students. I am not a psychologist but my amateur diagnosis for several of them is they are just a serious pain in the ass. You remember that movie, Problem Child? The crazy ginger kid with the bowtie, Junior? Okay, 3 of her students are Junior. (That’s ¼ of the class for you non-math majors.) Another 3 of them are like Junior at age 4, still learning how to be total hellions, but getting there. Every time she requests me, I cringe, and accept, only because she’s like a sister to me.
And that makes those kids like my sister’s crazy children. I kind of have to like them. Normally, if I thought a class was like a pack of wild hyenas, I wouldn’t leave my sub number. Problem solved. But this is my best friend, my BFF since we were little kids. She knows I don’t really have a doctor’s appointment that day she needs me to come in, or a day flight to Utah, or the 24 hour flu. I’m not really helping my neighbor’s godson’s cousin install his water cooler. She's pretty sharp. I’m just avoiding her little Juniors.
But I have good reasons! When I sub for room 25, I have to say things like “Get off the bookshelf!” “don’t cut your hair!”and “put your shoes back on!” I have to confiscate things like a kazoo, a flashlight, toothbrushes, and a recorder. I have to yell at kids for painting their own faces or their neighbor’s arms during a painting project. I have to put a stop to impromptu classroom sing-a-longs to “Smack That” or “Yellow Submarine” (the only lyric they know being “We all live in a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine…. Repeat 6,000 times) The thing is, my best friend LOVES her kids. She thinks they’re funny and she does all sorts of involved projects with them and deals with the chaos and noise and I listen to her stories and just do not get it at all. If I were their full-time teacher, I'd be a raging alcoholic. But a recent experience would change my mind a little.
I got a last-minute request by my BFF to come back for 3 days for her, since her beloved grandma passed away. I was happy to help. I would bite the bullet, have lots of coffee and Advil, and take one for the team. I had no idea that spending 3 consecutive days with her motley crew would make me kind of like them more. They are funny, and they do funny things. I lost my voice on Day 2 of my stay and they were so excited, and then imitated me in whispers, which made me laugh. We did art projects that took way too much time and energy, talked about the food chain and I managed to survive each day, giving them a farewell fist-bump as they left (my BFF high-fives them, gross. I'm not there yet). They’re total stinkers. Unbelievably frustrating, loud, obnoxious little turds, with endearing quirks and bright smiles. We went to a school awards assembly, and when they won the classroom attendance award, I was beaming with pride. Even though every time I am there, I pray 3 of them will be absent, I was so proud they got their award for unrelenting attendance.
So yeah, they have kind of grown on me. Like a weird rash that stops itching. It’s not so bad.
But next time she requests, I’m having emergency toe surgery that day.