As I was driving my middle school kids to school this morning, one of my sixth grade students decided to give a dramatic reading of his ten page social studies assignment, Government Throughout History. Based on what I heard, which was only bits and pieces of the story, I must say, it was pretty creative and definitely original. He wrote his paper in playwright form, including lines and scenes for a number of characters. I thought his concept was pretty clever. The child I’m referring to, however, has one volume. I wish I could describe him as loud, but that would be an understatement. His volume permeates through the entire bus and if anyone else is talking, his volume escalates to a, wake the dead, volume level. I have to admit, when we arrived at the middle school and the kids disembarked, I was grateful for the silence left in his wake, even with the engine noise still droning on in the background.
I was not prepared for round two with my, over the top, loud-mouthed, thespian wannabe this afternoon. He is the first person to board the bus, most afternoons—lucky me. He and I had been chatting for a few minutes before any other children boarded. Jesse, Oliver’s brother, boarded the bus, moments later, immediately requesting Oliver to resume the dramatic reading from where Oliver had left off that morning. Oliver said he did not have the paper with him. Woohoo and hallelujah! Is it bad that I was overjoyed when I learned he did not have the paper with him? Even though I thought what he had written had been clever, I just was not up for an encore performance.
While enroute, Oliver’s’ noise level proceeded to escalate—expotentially. With each passing block, and volume escalation, I could feel myself losing patients with him. I sternly told Oliver to dial down his volume level. It worked, for about a moment. His volume was building again, this time crescendoing to an ear-splitting level. At that very moment, I was down to my very last nerve of the day and Oliver was now jumping on it. I could take no more. I very loudly called his name and told him to be quiet. Yes, I used those words, though the phrase S H U T – U P was screaming in my brain. When his volume was lowered to a dull roar, I brought back a question I had asked one of my second graders, last year. “Do you have a mute button?”
“No, I don’t have a mute button. This is going to be a long year, isn’t it?” he said.
As annoying as he was being and as irritated as I was, his response made me smile. I think I may have just met my smart aleck match.