Not only I miss the kids, but I also want to meet the teenagers even more. I once had a story with Jenny, a 13 to 14 yo girl. She was SWAG! Well I don’t really know the definition of SWAG but somehow she fitted that term. Jenny came from a very wealthy family, but from what I heard, she was not in a good term with her mom, which was typical problem for my students there.
Jenny really loved Lady Gaga. She could spend a whole day talking about how great Gaga was. She said she loved coming to my class because she hated coming home.
Jenny was always lazy when it came to studying. She would always showed her signature remark “Aaah ms, let’s just talk, okay, let’s just share story, okay…”. My challenge was how to balance her story time and the lesson, which was my, no, our priority.
I grew fond of her. She told me that her mom kept making her do things she hated. She wanted to learn guitar, but she had to take a piano lesson because he mom thought that guitar would ruin her nails. She loved futsal and soccer, yet her mom made her join a swimming club because swimming was so much more girly. But it was normal. Teenagers (from what I learn) were in the phase where they tend to rebel rather than negotiate. When they’re older, they will learn how to get what they want with negotiation and without confrontation.
Several terms had passed when I finally had to leave her class. My principal said that it was not healthy anymore. For her, I was too lenient on the kids and it could spoil them. After that, I got another class as the substitute and Jenny got a new teacher. A month and two, I kept getting message from her telling me to come back. She said she would study harder and stop playing around. What could I do… after what she called a nice way to ask for me back, she threatened to quit. I tried to assure her we could still talk outside the class. Glad she hung on.
The time when she had her school group holiday to Bali, she bought me a T-Shirt saying “I’m sorry I couldn’t give you better stuff, FYI I didn’t even buy anything for my mom”.
Well, I got it. I felt I was important for her.
One day, Jenny’s teacher came so angry. Her face was all red. In teacher’s room, she said Jenny was way too hard to handle. “How dare she call me dog? How impolite and look very uneducated!”. We consoled the teacher that day. It must be hard on her. Being called names by students (especially not kids, must be hurtful).
Well to cut the story short, it was probably the last time Jenny came. I never saw her after that, so I decided to contact her. I asked her what happened; she replied and made me speechless. “You know I love Gaga, you know how hard I persuaded my mom to let me buy the ticket to her Jakarta concert, you know how happy I was when my mom gave up and said yes, but when Gaga canceled her concert, I told Ms. X (the teacher in her class), you know what she said? She laughed loudly at me, pointing her pointed finger saying how poor I was. It hurt me a lot; she didn’t know how bad I felt because I couldn’t see Gaga after all the effort I did.”
It was like I was slapped on the face that day. No matter how I hate some cheesy actors, I never stated it in front of students who liked them.
You might think that Jenny was overacting that time, but for me, no. teenagers are like that. They are very vulnerable. When you insult the thing they like, it feels like you and the world are against her. Their pride is important and they don’t need you to love the thing they love. I felt her.