“There’s a dog in there! Ms! Look at that dog!”
“Oh you’re right…let’s leave him alone, ok? He looks…tired,” I stumbled. Just don’t go in there, I thought. Just be satisfied with a view through the window. And just hurry up, bus!
Last week I was waiting for the bus when two sixth grade boys, K and his friend scrambled past me. I moseyed closer to where they had paused, remembering a few days before when K had been annoying some 8th graders to the brink of their patience and noting the snowball he held in his hand. As I got closer to where they stood, the smell hit. Pot. I looked around and realized that it was coming from a man who had taken over one of the little booths that contain the ticket-vending machines. He was there with a pile of belongings and a joint. He’d clearly been there hotboxing for a while. The whole area around the little booth reeked. As I was computing these facts and integrating them with the proximity of my students, K pointed out the dog.
“I think it is a pit bull, don’t you A?” K asked confidently. “Hey, is that a pit bull?” he asked the man inside, luckily without opening the door to the booth. The man nodded and smiled a slow smile.
“Come on, guys let’s leave the dog alone.” Not to mention the man smoking pot. But the boys wouldn’t budge. So I switched tactics. I introduced myself to K’s friend A and launched in to my best hope for distraction — basketball tryouts.
“How did the tryouts go? Think you’ll make the team?” This seemed to gather their attention for a moment. Bragging about their skills on the court, rashing on the 7th graders (a grade not known to be good at basketball, even among the teachers), explaining the coach’s rules about behavior and grades (which the teachers are thrilled about), and generally proclaiming their enthusiasm for the sport. As K eyed the Oreo that A was dissecting he remarked with the cool confidence of a sixth grader high on the endorphins of running around for 90 minutes during a tryout, “I’ll probably make the team.” This did not seem an opportune moment to point out to him that he’s not even five feet tall. Or that there are enough 8th graders to probably fill a whole team (a grade that is known to be good at basketball). I had succeeded in distracting them from the pit bull encased in pot smoke. And, hallelujah, the bus those boys ride pulled up to the curb.
[Update: A made the first cut but K did not, despite his confidence. No 7th grader made the first cut.]