Louis doesn’t like her eyes. She thinks they’re too small. So when you take her picture, she holds them wide open. Like this. I told her she looks better natural, but she said “Oh. Well. I don’t care.”
She is a fascinating creature. She believes, and hopes, for example, that zombies are plotting to take over the earth. In fact, she thinks she just might be one. It’s as possible — as possible as anything is– she claims, that she died in 1974 – at age seven, and that she’s stuck there. At good ol’ age seven. She loves gore and horror and blood.
She’s crazy about her friends and demands that everyone completely accept everyone else for who exactly they are.
Which would work out well for her, I’d say.
She loves, loves, loves to bake – especially cookies, preferably with chocolate. She is in my cooking class and sometimes will pop into my ‘regular’ classroom in the middle of the day with a question such as “what the heck is cream of tartar?” to which I answer I really don’t know. Because I don’t. I mean really, does anyone? (Mrs. Montgomery – I’ve got 5,000 won on you knowing exactly what this is. Don’t fail me now, Home Ec Teacher Extraordinaire!)
Louis used to kind of want to be a boy – that was the year she named herself Louis. She’s rethinking now: considering Raquel. I told her the connotations of the name Raquel and she said, happily, “Oh. Well. I don’t care.”
This is Louis. Who calls herself “The Kid” and even writes that on assignments. No one else calls her that. This does not faze her.
She reviles the Korean language, won’t speak it unless her parents force her to. Has decided to grow out her hair. Finds that she has outgrown, already, living in her parents’ home. She dreams of living in Ohio, a place so magical it fills her dreams.
When I told her the connotations of Ohio, she said, happily, “Oh. Well. I don’t care.”
It shames me to say that when I first met her, I
judged imagined Louis to be a student who would constantly keep her classmates off track, demanding attention and basking in the reactions when she talked about guts, decapitation, surgery and the undead. This, friends, is why you cannot buy the wine because of the fancy, beautiful label, the car because of the sleek look, the outfit because of the model inside it.
Because Louis is among the brightest, cleverest, most focused academic minds I have ever had the honor of teaching.
Each day in my classroom, students complete a brain warm up activity. These are often tricky problems, within which answers lie, if you think about the question kind of askew. Students love these activities and look forward to them every day. They’re a great way to focus their attention at the start of class.
This is a poem Louis wrote for me, about said Brain Warm Ups. She did this because she wanted to.
Brains are like leftovers,
they have to be warmed up.
Especially in the mornings
not long after you get up.
A riddle, a puzzle, something out of a book.
It doesn’t matter what it is or how long it has took.
It’s not that easy to go ahead
and think of stuff right up.
‘Cuz brains are like leftovers.
They need to be warmed up.
I found out later, she wrote a poem for each of her teachers, completely unique to something they do in their classrooms. That’s Louis. Creative. Fascinating. Inventive. Sagacious. Witty. FUN.
I have stopped telling Louis the connotations of anything she says that seems odd. It is absolutely true that I wish I had half of Louis’ chutzpah. Half of her zest for life. Half of her confidence, which is understated, but real. I wish to take with me, back to America, Louis’ absolute certainty that she is just fine as she is, and thank you very much.
And accepting people for exactly who they are will work out nicely for us all. Dontcha think?
wonderful soulful entry. You are a gifted teacher and your students are lucky to have you.
Vicki Hamlin said:
Thank you Chris. If you could just pass the word along to EVERYONE CONNECTED TO EDUCATION IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM, so that I may procure a job, I promise you will be handsomely rewarded. With beer. And homemade chocolate stuff. And also hugs.
Megan Willingham said:
Cream of Tartar is used to add acid to a recipe… since baking is all math and chemistry… its chemical name is potassium bitartrate… I watch a lot of Good Eats.
Vicki Hamlin said:
Sweet. Good to know. And probably forget again.