Chicken Mysteries

On Friday I was checking in homework packets. Kids sometimes write notes to me on the cover sheet. Things like, “I had trouble on the math, can we go over it together?” Or “My mom helped me with the spelling.” Or “I hated that article about whales. You should never assign it again.”

When I noticed writing on one student’s cover sheet, I assumed it was for me. Then I read it. It said “Why chicken on the median.” Then below it, in all capitals NEKCIHC. Which, you may have noticed, is chicken backwards.

Was it a code? Did the chicken stand for something? Was it about math? We had been studying median and other data points. Was it a joke? Median like median strip? Some veiled reference to a chicken crossing the road?

Hoping to clear this up, I called the student in question over. Before I could say anything, he saw the writing, snatched the packet off my desk, and said under his breath “Oh, not again.” Then he looked up at me. “This… this isn’t important. Don’t worry about it.” “What is it?” I asked. I wanted to know. “It’s not for you.” He said solemnly.

Things got even weirder when he went back to his seat. He leaned over to another student and said, quietly but loud enough for me to hear “We have to be more careful.”

I am now obsessed with finding out what the heck this is about.

That’s Not Your Name

I have two students whose nicknames are very similar. Three letter names, one letter off. For anonymity’s sake, let’s call them Jim and Tim.

Yesterday the kids were getting packed up at the end of the day, and I found a paper that should have been put away on a desk. I looked at the name- Jim. So, logically, I went over to Jim and told him he needed to put his paper away.

Without looking at the paper, he informed me “It isn’t mine.” I told him it had his name on it. “No, I already put mine away. That ones not mine.” At this point, you might assume I would think something was wrong. If so, you clearly do not work with kids. I have conversations like this ALL THE TIME. I once had a student pull out a tooth and place it on the table, then vehemently deny it was his tooth. This after I literally saw him remove it from his own mouth seconds before.

With conversations like that in my history, I’ve learned to ignore the “It’s not mine” argument. So I called Jim over to the table and showed him the paper, and his name. “It’s not mine!” He insisted. “Look, that’s not my handwriting.” I looked closer. He was right.

“Who wrote your name then?” I asked him. “Whose seat is this?” Of course… Tim’s. Jim and I tracked down Tim together. Or rather, I went out to the hall to find Jim and Tim followed me. “Is this your paper?” I asked Jim. “Oh, yeah, it is. Thanks!” He reached for it. I held onto it. “This is yours? With your name?” He looked at me like I was crazy. “Yeah…” “Look at your name, Tim.” I pointed. He looked. “What?”

At this point Jim couldn’t stay quiet. “You wrote my name, Tim!” Tim looked at the paper again. “Oh yeah!” He said with a grin. “I did!” Then he went back to packing his backpack.

“Tim?” I asked. He looked up at me. “Why?” I pushed. I genuinely wanted to know why a ten year old wrote the wrong name on his paper. I wanted to know the reasoning.

“Why what?” He said. “Why did you write someone else’s name on your paper?” He shrugged. “Well, Jim and I were in the same class in second grade.” He said, with a tone that implied it was a completely logical answer. I turned to Jim, wanting someone to sympathize with me on that ridiculous comment. Instead, Jim was nodding his head. “Yeah, that’s true.” He said. He looked at me. “There ya go!”

These are the people I spend my days with.