Everything I Need to Know About Middle Schoolers I Learned From Them Puking

9 Jun

How 6th, 7th, and 8th Grade Students Reacted to a Retching Situation.

Not too long ago, the middle school I work at was hit with a strange case of kids puking.  Each kid, seemingly fine, suddenly would get the hiccups and burps, throw up, and then would be fine again.  Fourteen kids were sent home that day due to a puking incident, and countless others had their own incidents but felt fine enough to continue with the rest of the school day.  I was lucky enough to witness many of them.

Mike, 7th Grade: My first puking kid encounter occurred immediately after I walked through the doors of the school that morning.  Running close-to-late, as usual, I was doing my long legged speed walk past the front desk and heading for the stairs, when little Mike came rushing out of the gym, almost colliding with me.  I didn’t think much about Mike until I put my first foot on the stairs and heard a gag followed by a splashy thud on the floor behind me.  I spun around to see Mike staring in awe at the carpet, wiping his mouth with his oversized hands that he hadn’t grown into yet.  “Are you ok?” I asked as I stepped off the first stair to make my way towards him.  “Yeah!” Mike yelled as he bolted to the bathroom across the school lobby and came out with a gigantic wad of toilet paper in his hands.  He bent down to wipe up the mess, but the toilet paper disintegrated into little, unhelpful pieces.  He looked at me with tears in his eyes.  “I threw up,” he said, stating the obvious. “What should I do?”  I told him not to worry about the mess and asked him if he wanted to go to the clinic.  He assured me that he felt fine, but I sent him there anyway and called for the janitor to clean up.  I was five minutes late to my class.

Mark, 6th Grade: As a paraprofessional, low on the school staff totem pole, I have the dreaded task of lunch duty.  It actually isn’t so bad.  I get to see the kids in a more social environment and occasionally I get to yell at them, which is always a good time.  This was a sunny day, and the kids were able to eat outside.  So, I was out on the patio staring at the 6th graders eating and enjoying the fresh air, when Mark came running up to me.  “Ms. Sperry! Ms. Sperry!” He tugged at my shirt.  “I just threw up!”  I followed him to the other end of the patio where a large circle of boys was ewwing and examining a foamy pile of bright blue puke.  “Ms. Sperry! Mark puked!” “It’s blue from his sucker!” “Gross!!!”  I shooed the boys away and asked Mark if he wanted to go to the clinic.  “No”, he insisted. I called for clean up and the boys ran out to recess.  Two in one day, I joked with the janitor, things were getting better and better.

Mary, 8th Grade:  Fast forward to 8th Grade lunch duty.  Again I was outside on the patio and all of the lovely thirteen and fourteen year olds were crowding back into the building from recess.  Once most of them were inside, as always, a handful of stragglers remained to avoid going back to class.  As I went to herd them inside, Mary, smart but also a smart-ass (as most 8th graders are, I suppose), was linked arm in arm with a girl on one side and a boy on the other.  Mary opened her mouth to, I presume, complain that I’m mean for forcing her to go to class, but instead an awkward belch came out.  The other two unlinked their arms to look at her with amusement.  “That’s disgusting, Mary!” the girl yelled.  The boy giggled in agreement.  “Ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod!  I think I’m, like, seriously going to puke.”  Mary bent over, a curtain of long hair surrounded her face, and she did indeed puke.  She continued to bend over at a ninety-degree angle, not wanting the long, thick strings of vomit still hanging from her mouth to get on her shirt.  As she realized she felt fine, a wave of embarrassment washed over her, which got worse as she desperately wiped her mouth and continuously failed to fling the vomit string off of her hand.  “Now, THAT was disgusting!” the boy yelled.  I asked Mary if she was ok.  She refused to acknowledge that anything happened and quickly walked to the door.  I called the janitor for another clean up.

I’m no expert on the matter, but after reflecting on my day, I couldn’t help but think that Mark the 6th grader acted like a 6th grader: After realizing that he felt fine, he ran to an adult for assistance and then went on to examine his blue puke in awe with his friends.  Mike, the 7th grader, proved his responsibility a little more by doing his best to take care of the situation himself as he attempted to clean and hold back tears of embarrassment.  Finally, Mary was a typical 8th grader by trying to maintain as much social dignity as possible without pausing to think about anything other than her friends’ reactions. Of course, every child is different, but my observations of those sick middle schoolers helped me see the steps they were taking towards becoming young adults. The 6th grader sought help, then the 7th grader helped himself, and the 8th grader went a step further by being aware of the complications of social acceptance.  The next step would hopefully be to combine all of these steps together for the good of yourself and others around you.  However, I’m not positive every person learns to take that biggest step- which kind of makes me want to puke.

(Names have been changed to prevent possible further social upsets)


One Response to “Everything I Need to Know About Middle Schoolers I Learned From Them Puking”

  1. Ali June 13, 2011 at 11:43 am #

    All those MMMMMs keep puking! That’s crazy that all this happened in one day! The joys of being a teacher! lol

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