Never Pop a Valentine’s Day Balloon

My sophomores worked independently on Valentine’s Day. Some of the girls carried around balloons, candy and bags into the classroom. Most of the girls with balloons were the ones you’d expect to drop out pregnant by their senior year.

Forget about them.

Instead, picture a shy, insecure usually quiet 16-year-old girl who sits in the front row, closer to the teacher’s desk than the door. She doesn’t mouth off — her form of defiance is to read a book rather than do the assignment if I would give her the chance. Her balloon and candy combo were rewards from a Valentine’s-themed lunchtime activity, and she was in a great mood because of it.

Long story short, she had a bit of a tiff with one of the more impulsive boys I have in the after lunch sophomore class. He’s bright and mostly respectful, but still impulsive. The way I heard it, some thing led to another and he threw a pencil at her balloon with deadly aim.

She immediately threw it back at him and ran out the door, bawling.

He didn’t see what the problem was. He had the look of remorse, but only for being sent outside and having caused himself as much discomfort. He didn’t man up to any more remorse than that. I failed to explain to him why exactly this was the absolute worst thing he could have done to her.

The whole thing had caused enough ruckus that the on-duty administration had heard about it, already. As the yard duty took him away, I heard the principal’s voice crackle over the radio. He intoned the same sort of indignation I felt, though without my genuine surprise.

I had asked him how he could think it was a good idea. He had a sophomore answer not worth repeating. It was some petty, pretty inconsequential provocation.

I think I know what was going on in her mind, but what was going on with him? How could he think this was a good idea?

Moral of the story? If not as often as their peers, smart kids can be just as stupid.

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