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It might be worth taking the time to remind you of a few ground rules if you want to get along with me in class this year.

First, I’ve got a lot of stuff to deal with.  Second, I’ve got A LOT of stuff to deal with.  Third, I’m not going to tell you what it is that I’m dealing with because (a) it’s none of your business and (b) that’s not how it works.  Let’s just presume I’m going to run the gamut from pleasantly goofy to downright hostile for no particular reason you’ll ever really understand.

Even if I do decide I like you enough to open up a bit, remember you’re getting only the parts that don’t seem too freaky or personal to discuss with someone as old as you.  Let’s face it, I neither want nor need you to be my pal.  We’re not going to the mall together or swapping stories about our first kiss; if we did, I’d find that more than a little creepy for reasons I hope are really obvious to you.

Just listen attentively, let me know you sort of understand what I’m going through, and leave me alone.  That is unless I want to stop by your classroom every day during your prep period; I’ll expect you to drop everything you’re doing to listen to me if that’s the case.  If I disappear for a while and suddenly reappear in your doorway, you’ll just have to roll with it.  I have a life, after all.

Oh, by the way, I’m going to have some really, really bad days this year, and I have no idea when those days are going to be.  It would probably be better for both of us if you left me alone, but I’m going to be really angry if you ignore me.  I don’t actually know what I want you to do, but I’ll just add it to the list of all the other stuff I have to figure out when I get the chance.

More rules.  Don’t mess with my space, my cell phone, my music player, or my head.  Don’t think you have any right to tell me what to do or how to act.  If you ever make the mistake of getting on my wrong side, I have a million little ways to drive you insane.  If I can’t do it by myself, I’ll enlist a few of my friends to help out.  Watch your step and we’ll be fine.

However, if I ever get the impression my friends and I can walk all over you, that is going to frighten me.  Even though most of the adults in my life are not, I need you to be strong because grown-ups are supposed to be in charge and protecting me from everything scary out there.

I see and hear too much stuff I shouldn’t at my age.  There are a lot of creeps out there who fail to realize I’m just a kid.  I don’t really have any idea of how I’m supposed to act or what is appropriate, but I suppose I’m figuring it out as I go along.  I’m pretty grown up in a lot of ways, but I wouldn’t mind being allowed to be a kid now and then.

I know you’re a teacher, so it’s your job to worry about me.  Just don’t embarrass me by making it too obvious.  The last thing I need is to have anyone pity me.  I’m tough; I can carry all my pain and confusion without any help from you.  That’s not actually true, but I can’t appear weak because that’s going to turn me into a target for every jerk in this school.  I know lots and lots of people, but I can’t completely trust anyone.  You would be surprised to know just how lonely I am, even when I’ve got twenty “friends” around.

Just let me know you care, and that will be enough.

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