“A) No tattooing, piercing of genitalia, branding or scarification shall be performed on a person under the age of eighteen.”*
I was called back to the school where I subbed for fifth-grade two days last week, but this time I was back in the middle school. The last name I was given for the absent teacher didn’t ring a bell, so I wasn’t sure what job I’d have, but I'd at least be familiar with the students. When I arrived, it turned out I’d be subbing for the Social Studies teacher (Yay! I’m actually certified to teach this subject). The only downside is that she has an office between classrooms, but doesn’t have her own classroom. The upside is that three out of four of her classes are in the Science room. A couple of times, I’ve subbed for the Science teacher, and found myself kicked out of the room most of the day so the Social Studies teacher could use the room.
While I was reading the sub plans, another sub came to the room. He thought he was subbing for the same teacher. Because she got married last year, and had a name change, I thought there had been two calls for the same job – one from the secretary using her maiden name, and one from the teacher using her first name. Just as I was preparing to do rock-paper-scissors to see who would get the job (Or I could stamp my foot, shouting “I was here first!”), it turned out that the other substitute was actually here for Math. There were three substitute teachers in the middle school, which I hoped wouldn’t make these zany students any zanier.
The plans that the teacher left were thorough – a stark contrast to the poor plans and missing supporting materials I dealt with yesterday. I’d have four classes, three different lessons, the directions were clear, the textbooks I needed were opened the proper pages with sticky notes providing the correct grade and time information were attached, and the overheads that corresponded with the chapters were included. She didn’t assume I could play piano or play CD’s without providing a CD player.
The first group was quiet and did their work. Since I’m not as familiar with the eighth-graders, having mostly taught sixth and seventh at this school, I didn’t know what to expect. Did this mean they were part of ISP (Intensive Studies Program)? Turns out no, just good students. But the next eighth-grade class might not be as cooperative.
The best part of this job is that I knew a lot of information, which I could add to the lessons. Since it was my subject, and I wasn’t just given handouts or a DVD to show, so I actually could contribute to the lessons.
The seventh-graders during second period started off fine, until ten minutes into class, when two of the most difficult students showed up after helping out with setting up a bake sale to raise money for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. Apparently they ate too much sugar because they were bouncing off the walls, and their rambunctious ways spread like a virus to several other boys. Getting the entire class to quiet down and concentrate at once became an exercise in futility. I should’ve been firmer, but they’d never been this loud, and I found it harder to change personas midway. So I became persona non grata, or rather, they became personae non gratae.
Third period went better than second, although I had to use my harder voice – louder with a lower tone, like the absent teacher. If I had to do that all day, I’d have no voice left. There were a bunch of boys, who kept trying to misbehave, but I was on top of them (A LOT of work on my part), and they eventually gave up. (There was a brief interruption when a ladybug landed on a hat.)
After having three hour-long classes in a row, I was glad for a break, if just to pee. My last class was working on pamphlets about hurricanes. When a few finished just minutes into class, I worried because no alternative work was left. My solution was to let those who finished help those who were woefully behind, since these were due at the end of class. It was a nice group, who mostly stayed in their seats and talked quietly.
This gave me time to just talk to them. Two students just joined the school in the last week – one from California (an avid reader) and the other from a private school in Cambridge (I got the impression from his stories that he got kicked out). At the same table, a girl showed me her tongue piercing, which floored me (And made me nauseous). What was she, fourteen or fifteen-years-old?
“It hurtsss!” She complained.
“Does your family know you have it?” I asked.
“Of courssse.” Oh yeah, that’s a ridiculous question.
“I guess you couldn’t hide it anyway.”
“Yesss, I could.”
“It changes the way you speak.”
“No, it doesn’t,” she insisted.
From behind her, her friend mouthed, Yes it does, and I tried to refrain from laughing.
Then the pierced girl said, “My mom’s throwing a tattoo party, and I’m gonna get a tattoo.”
“Yes, I’m gonna get my name on my hip.” She pulled the side of her jeans down to show me the planned spot.
At that moment, I was more tongue-tied than she was.
“B) Body piercing, other than piercing the genitalia, may be performed on a person under the age of 18 provided that person provided that person is accompanied by a properly identified parent, legal custodial parent or legal guardian who has signed a form consenting to such a procedure.”*
* How many of you are like me, and learned a new word: scarification?
This information on “Model Regulations for the Body Art Establishments January 23, 2001”