Spring is in the air. Even though the weather isn't actually cooperating on this front.
I am talking about the inevitable blizzard of relationship angst and personality shifts in the kids at my school. Having just crested the hill into the last third of the year, students in grades as low as second have begun to exhibit the now familiar signs of Vernal Disquietude.
This is not an officially recognized condition from the American Pediatrics Society. It's more of a reality check for me and the rest of the planet, letting me know that I have probably lived too long. I search back in my memory for a time when I was overwhelmed with discussion of my relative connection with the girls and boys in my class. The leg up I have here is a distant memory of a taunt that began with my name being insinuated with a friend of mine, suggesting that we might be found K-I-S-S-I-N-G in a tree somewhere. Hindsight suggests that this would actually be a badge of honor in situations outside of second grade. The image of carrying on these suggested makeout sessions while perched in a tree does seem a little dangerous, but I suppose if we had been hiding behind the tree we would not have been as visible and therefore evade detection by the prepubescent relationship police.
To my very great surprise, boys and girls still use that rhyme to suggest a relationship beyond that of four square buddies on the playground. The more troublesome and concerning matter for me as the adult who has to mitigate the sadness and frustration brought on by such accusations is the part where groups of chanters follow the individuals mentioned in the song, encouraging them to make good on their collective vision. Quite often this ends in tears. Even in fifth grade, where the boys are just beginning to comprehend the potential of having a friend outside their own chromosome arrangement. This is the time of year when boys and girls who had unwittingly struck up a friendship between one and another find themselves caught up in the expectations of others.
There are those who embrace the suggestion and move forward awkwardly, based on some ill and preconceived ideas about what being boyfriend and girlfriend might be. The information regarding such coupling is tamped down mightily by the fifth grade puberty class, where boys are sent to one room and girls are sent to another and the ugly truths are spilled to them with all the clarity of pre-calculus.
This only serves to invigorate those would-be matchmakers who are even more focused on pairing off everyone around them. With a clear and careful avoidance of doing so themselves.
Meanwhile, we are also preparing for standardized testing.
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