Tag Archives: students

Feelings and the lack of it

So while I continue to say that I love all my kids equally, I secretly love some a whole lot more. It could very well be because I find more of myself in them than others but whatever the excuse, one of my favourite kids (MFK) called me recently and we had the most interesting conversation ever.

So MFK begins with the typical announcements on the books she has read and inquiring after my hair (if it is growing, what my plans around it are etc). We then had a power packed five minutes on how much she scored in all her tests, how she absolutely loves chemistry, the new elements in the periodic table and how no one in class is as excited as she is about those new elements (!)

But somewhere in all this, I felt like she wasn’t really saying what she wanted to say. Not wanting to probe, I let her stew in the pauses and then she suddenly piped up saying “Didi, I wanted to tell you something about our class. All our students have fallen into the TRAP.” I was suitably intrigued, and she continued, “Didi, these days all the girls they have feelings for boys.” The way she said the word ‘feelings’, I could totally imagine her disgust showing up on her scrunched up face. She let that information stay with me for a few seconds expecting a dramatic reaction. While I completely cracked up in my head, I projected a very calm ‘is that so?’ kind of demeanour. She could contain herself no longer and burst out saying, “Didi, I called to tell you while everyone has these feelings, I have absolutely no feelings whatsoever. Didi, I cannot feel a single thing! In fact Didi, I thought about these feelings and I realized I do not need these feelings also. I do not know why these girls and boys are like this. Unit tests are just over and they are still thinking about feelings only.” (Yes she did use the word ‘feelings’ so many times in one breath)

I was completely torn between cheering that MFK was exactly like me when I was in the 9th grade and ensuring that I give her balanced perspective or be that someone she could confide in. So I say, “You know it is completely okay if you do not have these feelings right now, but what is also okay is if you do ever have feelings and want to talk about it.” Yes, that’s how lame I was! I heard myself and I rolled my eyes over my own response.
Clearly, I wasn’t the only one because I could literally hear MFK’s eyes going to the back of her head. She shot back pointedly saying, “Didi! It is just hormones! These are not real feelings. I do not have any feelings and I will never any feelings for any boy.” I immediately caught on and reminded her it doesn’t necessarily have to be a boy and she again sternly brought me on track saying she is completely aware of the ‘choices’ she can make and she is not happy with the way I am digressing at each step of the conversation.

So I let her take the reins and just listened. She told me about who is dating whom, who broke up and who is in the in-between stages of deciding their relationship status. She also magnanimously pointed out that someone’s writing has improved because of all the love letter writing, though she was disappointed that as a couple they weren’t really focusing on spellings. There is a lot of crying, breaking up in the corridors and missing school to mend the broken hearts.

MFK suddenly halted since her mom was in the room and she made me promise that I will come to Bombay soon so that we could catch up and discuss in detail why girls and boys are so weird and why feelings are such a waste of time. She reminded me again loudly (I am guessing for the benefit of her mom) that she has no such feelings and she is never falling into this trap.

As I imagined each of my kids being gangly and awkward, I couldn’t help but feel a huge pang of missing this part of their growing up. While I may not have been great at feelings and all that, but I would kill to be there for them and just remind them that it gets better.

Sometimes it is easy to forget how hard being 14 can be. MFK reminded me that being a teenager is chaotic, messy and mostly heartbreaking.

I cannot wait to go back to Bombay. It will be a session of coffee, doughnuts and high school drama – MFK is growing up and I just need to make sure, I play it cool and not let my feelings come in the way of our awesomeness.

You can read what happened next here.

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Note to self

So today I had about 30 people visiting my classroom from different countries. It was a fantastic opportunity for my kids to interact, learn more and of course show off. Here are a few gems I will keep coming back to.

1) Vivek: Who is the most famous American singer?
Daren (from Teach for America): Kanye West is a great singer
Vivek (doubling up in laughter): Kaaniye se gaana gawaya!!
Needless to say that the rest of the class joined in.
Vivek: Can I call you Kaaniya bhaiya?
Daren: Oh no! I am not Kanye West he is a famous singer. I am not Kanye.
Vivek: Giggles.
Class refers to Daren now as Kaaniya bhaiya.

2) So there was this person from Teach for Kenya who walked into my class. Now I do not mean to be racist but my class simply has seen more American and European people and an African is surely a first. He walks into my class and there is a collective gasp. One kid whispers loudly enough for all of us to hear “Bhaiya got sun stroke and became full black”. I could have simply found a hole to bury myself.

3) A group from Teach for All delegation came to my class when we were discussing Wonderbox questions. Shubham Pandey stands up and asks the delegates a question that would leave them stumped – “Where is the baby making factory?”. Of course the 15 people could not stop grinning and there was an uproar in class. Rishi taking offence stood up and said “Do not call my mother a factory!”. I intervened and asked the class to settle down. Shubham, very matter of factly says “there are so many people in this world obviously there is a factory”. Wasim chums in to share two bits of his newspaper reading habit saying “Yes 7 billion people are there, there must be a factory.”

4) During the recess, Sumit reports to me saying he “thinks” Lucy (a leadership role person from Teach for China) can read Chinese. I asked him how did he figure this out. He reports the following conversation to me.
Sumit: Can you read this? (showing the backside of his identity card which has Chinese gibberish because I bought it from some stationery store which sells imported stuff)
Lucy: Hmm..let me try
Sumit: I will not know even if you read wrong. But please read correctly.
Lucy: (reads something)
Sumit: Thank you for reading me in Chinese.

5) So on my behaviour tracker, I ended up cutting 1 point of Vikas because he was behaving quite badly somewhere end of day. This happened with 13 people in class and he felt he lost face so was very upset. He comes to me after school to make me feel terrible so this is what he tells me verbatim.

Vikas: Didi, you cut my point!
Me: Umm…yes you broke 3 rules and I gave you sufficient warning.
Vikas: Didi, you do not cut my point. You did not cut my point. You cut India’s point in front of American and the world. That was not good. Now they will go to the world and tell everyone that Indian students lose points in class
Me: (Embarrassed for not realising the faux pas I committed in International relations)

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