Bathroom going is one of the pain-in-the-ass aspects of teaching. There is the well-known fact that teachers must be able to hold it for Herculean periods of time. But that’s the least of my worries. Students and the bathroom—that’s hell on wheels. Do you take the whole class, standing in the hall for a solid fifteen while the entire class cycles through the ordeal, while the rest of them wait calmly and angelically in a perfect line outside the bathroom? Maybe, in the Vatican. In my school, there will likely be blood spilled. Or at least shins kicked.
As a result, I have bathroom passes and let kids go with a hand signal and the admonition that they have two minutes. I have a naughty little English Language Learner who blithely pretends that he is not privy to our concepts of time, and regularly disappears for twenty minutes at a time, while scores more wait at their desks, waving their bathroom signals aloft while clutching at their crotches. It makes for some super-effective teaching, I assure you. I ask a question, call on a kid, only to realize that he is not volunteering an answer, but is waving a bathroom signal. In fact, you realize, no one knows anything, and they each have the bladder control of a three-year-old. Tony Robbins would crumple in the face of this crowd.
Today, Naughty Boy goes AWOL as usual. Upon his return, I sternly remind him that he was gone for far too long. He smiles, rubs his head, and says, “I make my hair.” His hair is exactly one millimeter long, and does not require any water application to “make.”
Jaws clenched, I tell him that “You don’t make your hair! That is not okay; you go for two minutes! There’s no making hair!”
Heartwarming and whimsical, you think to yourself. Whatever. I continue with whatever it was that I was teaching; by now, any momentum is pretty much grinding to a screeching halt and I have to tap dance to get them to focus back on my compelling show.
Naughty Boy raises his hand. “Can I go to the nurse to get a shirt? Mine is wet.”
Dying a little bit inside, I calmly respond that NO, he can’t go to the nurse to get a shirt! He MADE HIS HAIR and now he has to deal with the consequences! He repeated his request at least three more times, while distracting everyone further by squeezing, wringing and and waving the front of his shirt in the air.
Remind me to pick up a blow dryer to add to my classroom supplies. Don’t even ask about the soul-crushing properties of pencils. That saga continues.