Today wasn't nearly as taxing as I expected. The kids were talkative and energetic, but no worse than on a typical day--I feared conflagrations! I tried to ease back into the discipline instead of barking orders. We had a chill review day, trying to re-establish things we learned right before the Blizzard of '09 shut us down early for the holidays.
It was actually pleasant to see the kids again after a long break. They are so emotive and excited and eager to show off their new shoes and clothes and binders and bookbags that it's hard not to feel a bit of nostalgia for the holidays.
Of course not all the kids get stuff at Christmas (and some, of course, don't celebrate it). Many of the most marginal kids didn't show today, the biggest behavior problems, the ones whose home life is a perpetual struggle. I have a feeling these tough kids couldn't bear coming in and hearing or seeing what others got. Maybe I'm wrong, but the few hard cases who were in school today were actively bullying kids who got new shoes, trying to tear them down.
I drove Webster home after school and he said "Mr. G I think these bullies be packing* our new shoes and shit 'cuz they didn't get nothing and they takin' it out on us. It's like when we analyzed character in that book; I know what motivates them." We talked about this for a few minutes before pulling up to the intersection of North and Greenmount, where a pair of junkies were lighting a pipe in full view of heavy daytime traffic, right at a bus stop full of middle and high-school kids. "Look at them junkies," Webster said. "I wonder what would happen if I ran over and hit that pipe out they mouths?"
*"packing" is an East-side colloquilism which means to criticize or ridicule