Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Latest in Lingo

The teenage population is highly unpredictable, and full of flair and colorful language to say the least. I believe my face turns beat red on a daily basis. I am embarrassed easily, but sometimes it is a small slip of the tongue that causes the most interesting moments. I learned the hard way that when a student uses a word that I do not understand, I pretend to know what it means, then go check Never, and I mean never, ask the student what that term means. You may be getting much more information than you bargained for. Hence, I now understand the differences in the colors of showers. Please do not ask because I will not explain that reference, as it was mortifying the first time.

There are a few things that have not changed in the minds of kids though. The terminology that still brings laughter  no matter the age of the students are any words that have to do with bodily functions, body parts, or noises that can be made with any body part. I cannot tell you how many times during the week I hear a kid say "fart" and the entire group surrounding this kid bursts into giggle fits.  (Be honest, how many of you laughed when you read that word?)

 Plus, I am never ceased to be amazed at how many times the "F Bomb" is dropped in the hallways. Although, I find this is a great opportunity for me to meet students I do not have in my classroom. When I hear a student "dropping the F Bomb," I introduce myself, shake their hand, ask for their name and then proceed to inform them of their duty to clean "the floor." They look at me like I am from Mars, so I have to explain. I tell the students that they made a mess with their language, so they must do ten push ups right there in the hallway to clean it up. Sometimes they try to act tough and get out of it, but I drag out my smallest violin in the world. Then they must do the push ups since I gave them a moment to throw a fit and whine. I have yet to have a student who did not "clean it up."  Plus, there is the added bonus that when I see them in the hallway after the incident I always smile and say hello, and ask how they are doing. By the end of the year I have made quite a few new acquaintances.

Now, this is not to say I have not been called names for my "quirky" tactics, but working with kids you have to let the derogatory remarks slide off your back. If I were to get upset every time I was called some version of the female dog I would be a basket case.  So, I always remember to smile and reply in kind when a kid is angry enough that he or she decides I am the most evil woman in the world because I am asking him or her to read, write or (gasp) learn.

Although, the language is not always negative.  Often times I hear inspiring and uplifting vocabulary that makes me feel on top of the world. Other times I am forced to laugh in spite of my normally very professional demeanor. For instance the day I told a student to "stop rubbing your nipples and pay attention please." I realized  I had not allowed the filter to stop the thought in my head. In my defense, the student had been asked nicely to quit being inappropriate at least 8 times, but it is distracting to me to try to explicate poetry with a bunch of juniors and have one of the students constantly "twisting" his nipples for fun.  (You cannot make this stuff up folks) Though, my purpose was to keep him from distracting others, and in reality I had created the biggest distraction of all. It was an all out laughing spree (me included) that was never recovered from before the bell rang.

Sometimes the words used are things that have taken on new meaning since I was a little girl. I was not trying to embarrass a student by asking a simple questions; "Why do you wear thongs in the winter time in Alaska. Don't you freeze your butt off?"  The dead silence, and the red faced child who sat in front of me were my first clue I had said something wrong. When she burst into tears, I was frantically searching for the problem, and the panic only increased when everyone else was laughing so hard I thought they might have a seizure.  Once the hysterical children had calmed down enough to breathe, and the young lady I had completely traumatized had been sent to the bathroom, I found out my mistake had been the word "thong." Thong is no longer a pair of shoes in the minds of the youth today. The term I was meaning are now called "flip flops," "sandals" or "naked kicks."  Thongs are articles of clothing previously known as underwear or, as I was informed by my students, "floss."
Not to worry the young lady was not permanently scarred and I promised to pay her psychology bills in the future.

Nonetheless, as an English teacher I love learning new words, and sometimes it is a necessity. So, keeping up with the, "Latest Lingo," has become a constant battle. I really focus on listening to the language in the halls,  and classroom, but I wish there was a school I could go to that would teach me the teenage vocabulary. The "schoolin"  that would allow me to keep up with the far out, groovy, cowabunga, hip, wicked, da bomb, chill, sick, tight, ghetto, fly, "WHATEVERIZZLE" language.