They’re Kids

6.16.16 By Malcolm King

They’re kids. They scramble ‘round my room, call each other names, slam down their books, pass notes across my aisles, cough loudly to cover expletives. They’re kids. They touch the display when they’re not supposed to. They want a bathroom break right after lunch. They don’t do my homework. They never remember which class we’re transitioning to. They’re kids.

They cry in the back of the classroom. They hurt each other when no one’s looking. They make out under the stairwell or bleachers. They forge signatures on hall passes. They’re kids.

They doodle on their notebooks, bite their fingernails, ask what day it is, even when it’s clearly written on the board. “For the second time, it’s Tuesday.” They’re kids. They get into fights about yo momma jokes and boyfriends and Facebook, lip gloss, and good hair and neighborhoods and light eyes. They’re our kids.

They stress about Regents and MCAS and PARCC and SATs and ACTs and applications and recommendation letters and good schools and scholarships and adjusted gross incomes and expected family contributions, but they’re kids. They scrawl chicken scratch on your exit slip and sometimes on rare beautiful occasions they give their 100% effort on a test because they want to make you happy. They’re kids.

They tell you secrets they’ve never shared with anyone. They make you share your lunch. They make you open up, even when you didn’t want to. They see things in you, you didn’t care to admit or didn’t realize were there. They’re honest even when it hurts. They’re kids.

They give handwritten apologies. They repeat something they learned from you and when no one’s paying attention, they actually listen. They’re kids. They trust you more than some family members. They bottle pain. They look for a way to let it all out. They deal with trauma they shouldn’t have to. They find ways to cope. They put on a brave face and make due. They come to you for help. They try to show you how grown up they can be, but they shouldn’t have to, because they’re kids.

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