It’s possible that I’ve become fully initiated into the league of Sophomores. I say this for three reasons: I’ve begun to use homophones incorrectly, I no longer have any personal boundaries, and I automatically begin all of my writing tasks by mentally trying to compose a thesis statement, followed by three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. (It’s the HSPE; there’s no escape.)
I’m not totally won over by homophone blindness, but I did use there and their interchangeably for just a fraction of a second the other day. I still cringe at the variants “thair” and “theyer”, but give me another couple years and I’ll be good with those, too.
I’m not quite as comfortable with my shattered personal boundaries, but I’m beginning to realize that my comfort level really doesn’t affect theirs. They tackle me in group hugs in the hall. They ask to borrow my ChapStick and my fork. They offer me bites of their cookies. Generally, I decline and I always draw the line at ChapStick. But they still ask. Speaking of asking, I’ve been getting a lot of borderline personal questions from students lately that have nothing to do with English. Some samplings, just from today:
“Mrs. Lybbert, what do you think is the scariest way to die?”
“Yo. Mz. Lybbert. What’s the meanest thing you ever done?”
“Where’d you go to college?”
“Why did you decide to become a teacher?”
“How old are all your kids?”
“Mrs. Lybbert. You have to answer me seriously: Do you think that girls should, you know, act like girls?”
“What do you do at parties?”
“Mrs. Lybbert!! Mrs. Lybbert!! Ohmygoodness–so what is your favorite animal?”
Lest you think my interrogators might be satisfied with simple or vague responses, let me just tell you that the questions are always followed by a long list of qualifiers–and sometimes, by demands for photographic evidence, as in the case of information about my children. As for qualifiers, the mode of death had to be 1) unexpected, 2) unnatural, and 3) exceedingly unlikely. The mean thing could not have occurred accidentally or when I was a small child. The favorite-animal girl refused to take “small children” as an answer and exacted a promise from me to come with an answer on Monday.
Would you believe I ran the animal dilemma past Google? (Would you believe there’s actually a wiki how-to-figure-out-your-favorite-animal, and that it is fully illustrated by pictures of deeply thoughtful people making lists? And no, it wasn’t helpful.)
Long story short: I don’t have a favorite animal. I can sum up my most visceral feelings about animals this way: White meat tastes better than dark.
I have a feeling that isn’t going to satisfy her.
To top it all off, I have the feeling that I’m doing exactly what we tell our students NOT to do when faced with a difficult homework assignment: I’m attempting to replace deep thought with an internet search. I’m procrastinating. I’m hoping the person doing the assigning will just forget by Monday.
It’s classic Sophomore homework strategy–right up there with looking in the fridge.
Said over a bowl of cereal.
I’ve become one of them.