Dogs are great. You will never encounter a species that is so full of unconditional love, and for no apparent reason other than the fact that you are who you are. Honestly, is there anything else in this world that you could scream yourself hoarse at, leave, come back to your apartment 2 hours later, and have it sitting there, wagging it’s tail like the most adorable Alzheimer's patient to ever piss on your carpet? And while the benefits of companionship are great, obviously there is the whole house-breaking thing, where you know that you are literally bringing in a living creature that will piss/shit/puke/chew/hump on/in/around/atop/below anything. The rollercoaster creature. The lowest of lows, the highest of highs. For a moment, you will forget about the tightly coiled turd a puppy left on your khakis because it learned how to howl in unison with you as you bellow out Elton John.
In short, you have to put up with the shit because sometimes it pays off and makes you smile...
For the first few weeks, “Caleb” drove me insane. It was a terrible game of Whack-a-Mole, only you didn’t have a mallet, and you couldn’t hit anything. Here, you have a class to teach, and there is this kid, constantly talking out of turn, behaving like a little jackass…. ”I can’t keep dealing with this,” I finally thought to myself. Something must be done.
I must break him. Enough was enough. As a publicly funded educator, I have a civic duty to teach the rest of this classroom, not chase Caleb around with a stick, tending to his every need. So one day, I decided that if and when he slipped up, I was going to tear him apart. He was going to be bombarded with the fury of a thousand suns. I was going DESTROY Caleb, and he will know thy wrath.
Well, it didn’t take long. Not 5 minutes into class, I was setting the stage for a mineral identification lab, and Caleb is up out of his seat sharpening his pencil, talking to another student...another student who was walking down the hallway, not even apart of the class. My time had finally come…
|My face (probably).|
I don’t remember what I said, exactly. I know I had told him to step in the hall, and then I let him have it. I imagine it sounded something like this:
Mr. W: “CALEEEEEEBBBBBB!! AJLIUHG LKJES ARLHASDFALSKHEJF!!!! ALKJSHFLKJAH WELFKJHAHJERFASD; LKFJAWE ALKIJSD ALKWEFJLAKH!! GET OUT IN THE HALLLLLLLLL!!!!!”
Caleb steps in the hall.
Mr. W: “CALLLLEEEEEEEEEEB! WHY ARE YOU ALKHJASDHFLKAJSHWAE?!? ASLKJD HFLAKJHEFAJLKS DHFLAWE !!!
Caleb: “...but I w-...”
Mr. W: “I’M NOT FINNNNNIISSSSSSHHHHED CALLLEEEEBBBBBBBBBB! KJHASLKJDHFALKJEH! ALKJHFALJW! ALSDKHJFALWEF! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH CALLLLEEEBBBBBBBB AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH Y U DO DIS CALLLLLEEEEBBBBBBBBBB?!? I’M GONNA CALL YOUR MOMMMMMMMMM CALLEEEEEEEEEBBBBBBB!!”
Then, something happened: Caleb didn't say another word.
Caleb started to cry. I hadn’t planned on him crying. I expected him to argue, and for me to establish my dominance over him. There can only be one king. It was time that someone put their foot down; and that FOOT was ME. However, my assumed verbal combat didn’t end the way I thought it would, because I had an incorrect, preconceived notion.
Caleb was nothing more than a puppy. He was a big puppy. He was a big puppy with ADHD. Caleb lived his life full of emotion; the highest of highs, the lowest of lows. Caleb could be up running around the class, or barking out comments during a lecture one moment, and the next, having tears silently stream down his face during The Lion King, only to whimper between quivering lips: “Mufasa is DEAD!”
|Long live the King.|
Caleb wasn’t a bully. He wasn’t disrespectful. The kid just didn’t know any better. And as the year progressed, I felt for him. Sometimes, he was just “too much” for the other kids, and would often isolate himself socially. It almost became cool to yell at Caleb when he got out of line. In one instance during Veteran’s Day, we had an Air Force veteran come in and address the class. For two days, I reminded them that he was going to visit, and would take questions. But, “under NO CIRCUMSTANCES, are you to ask about shooting or killing.” Well I will give you one damn guess as to what happened…
Air Force Lieutenant: “...and that was my experience over in Iraq. So, do you guys have any questions for me? Yes, young man back there…”
Caleb: “Did y’all ever shoot anybody?!”
Class: (in unison) “CALEB!!”
And Caleb felt terrible, because that’s what puppies do when they are chided. But, just like a puppy, Caleb had already forgotten not 4 hours later as he was rampaging through my room like Godzilla through the streets of Tokyo.
Caleb’s passion was 2nd to none. When he was focused on his work or the lesson, he was great to have in class. Caleb put his all into everything, whether we were debating in class, whether he was sharpening his pencil, or whether he was trying to solve the answer to that age old question:
Caleb: “Mr. W, who would win in a dancing competition: Prince, or Michael Jackson?”
Mr. W: “Well, seeing as Michael Jackson is dead, I would probably say Prince.”
Caleb: “AIN’T YOU EVER SEEN THRILLER!?”
Mr. W: “...touche.”
It really didn’t take long until Caleb and I had an understanding. I knew sometimes he couldn’t control himself, so all it often took was the People’s Eyebrow until he said “sorry” and continued whatever educational venture he was involved with at the time. For as many headaches he gave me, I loved having the kid in class. When he was involved, EVERYONE was involved. He didn’t do things for popularity, he just did them because that’s who he was. You would yell at him, he would feel terrible, but the next day, he loved you.
Caleb was a puppy. A big ol' puppy with ADHD, and minus the shit on the carpet. Although, he did absolutely mow through pen-caps like no one’s business…