Rediscovering Adult Conversation

I’m six days into my post-seventh grade existence. A hundred and eighty-two days of hanging out with twelve and thirteen-year-olds have reworked my mannerisms and speech like a Texas move-in developing a twang. My language had begun to be peppered with tints of adolescence. Some words whose meaning I was clueless about had begun to filter into my bantering back and forth with students. As natural as saying “macaroni and cheese”, I had become almost fluent in the language of meaningless youth chatter.

And now I had emerged from the forest back into the groomed garden of adulthood. I’m wondering if there should have been a quarantined period in between the two groupings to make sure I was not infected with the inability to spell correctly. It’s as widespread as the flu amongst seventh graders. (I should have spelled it “flew” or “phlu”!) Adults actually spell out the whole word, not abbreviate it with the new language of middle schoolers called texting. “BRB”, “OMG”, “CUL” (See you later!), and “LOL”…I needed an app on my phone that could have translated for me.

So now I’m back with people who talk in meaningless mature conversations and discuss world politics in lengthy diatribes that make me want to hurl (Oops! Another seventh-grade term right there!). Whereas teaching seventh-graders is like being in a bubble, unaware of catastrophes and disagreements, adulthood is populated with people trying to be impressive.

My diet needs to make the transition back to food that is not saturated with sugar. I often wondered how many grams were in the typical seventh-grader’s daily intake. I mean, donuts and/or Sugar Pops for breakfast, candy bars for lunch in between servings of nachos and a pizza slice and rinsed down with a can of Mountain Dew. It’s no wonder that the munchkins were looking comatose by the time the last class of the day arrived as the sugar effect disappeared. So now I’m trying to make that adjustment in diet back to tasteless cereal and tossed salads. And, like most adults, I find myself sneaking in a candy bar or bag of chips here and there…quietly!

I never did master the ability to talk fluently about video games with my students. The only game on my iPhone is Words With Friends, something that is non-existent and unknown to them. Playing the online version of Scrabble would have been like spending a Friday night sitting at the kitchen table with their parents. For my students, they had become proficient in reaching Level 28 in some game, proud of beating their classmates in another game that they were able to play on their smartphones together, and experts in discovering hidden treasures and special powers to defeat their opponents, real and imagined. Education, slow to come to the realization, did create certain classroom games/contests to help make learning relevant for them…apps like Kahoot, Quizlet, Padlet, and FlipGrid. It will be interesting to discover how many students can identify hyperbole as a result of a classroom Kahoot competition compared to my talking about and writing it on the chalkboard.

Truth be told, I am more entertained and interested by middle schooler conversations than adult chaotic chatter, but when you’re with grownups whose physical and mental flexibility has done a U-turn toward non-existent you tend to stay away from doing handstands and cartwheels (One of my students finally convinced me to do a cartwheel one day. It’s probably now on YouTube under adult bloopers.)

Adults are both more responsible and more depressing. They are confusing and conversational, rational and repulsive. Seventh-graders can talk about passing gas and nose-picking as if it’s a part of any kid’s normal daily life. Adults pretend the smell from their backside doesn’t exist.

It’s going to take a while, but I’ll get comfortable with maturity again. Of course, I may become a lot less interesting when that happens. OMG!

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