You Can’t Create a Clean-Freak.



You know how every year you have that one student?  No, not that one . . . not the one that makes you question your career choice.

No, I mean the clean-freak obsessive-compulsive kid . . . the one who can’t handle even the smallest bit of dry erase marker left on the board, who finishes his work early with the sole intention of organizing your back bookshelf, who volunteers, even BEGS, to come in at lunch if it means you’ll let him clean your desk (“Please, Mrs. Ezell, Please!  You can’t live like this.  It isn’t healthy.  Your piles are all mixed together and it’s giving me a headache, and please tell me you aren’t drinking out of that cup.”)  

I have ALWAYS had that kid  . . . every single year . . .                                                                                                                                 AND, because I am the sole teacher of 6-8 grade math, once I get that kid                                                                                                 I HAVE HIM FOR THREE YEARS.  

Like I said, I have ALWAYS had that kid . . . UNTIL this year.  It breaks my heart, but I don’t have that kid this year.                                      

Do you hear me?  I don’t have that kid!                                                                                                                                                                                           

I have been left to my own devices this entire year with no one to keep me organized.  I was OK at first.  September wasn’t too bad. The piles were manageable.  Pencils weren’t sharpened, but I could find one . . . usually.  However, by early October things were starting to crumble.  I tried to hold on.  I tried to remember the words and lectures from my former clean freak students who kept me alive . . . sadly, I have failed them, every single one of them.

It is now the first week in February.  I fear I will be forced to move to another classroom so that this one can be gutted.  I worry that there is no coming back from this . . . random paperclips everywhere (many completely unbent or chained together), map pencils mixed in with markers mixed in with glue mixed in with pencils (none with erasers), post-it notes and little scraps of paper with important stuff written on them (I don’t know what any of it means), 4 staplers (I don’t own 4 staplers), and styrofoam cups from who knows when half-filled with who knows what  (tea, Diet Dr Pepper, green smoothie . . . at least I hope it’s green smoothie).

I tried to recruit a new clean-freak.                                                                                                                                                               It can’t be done.  

I thought maybe one of the 8th graders could be coerced into helping me.                                                                                                 No.  

I thought maybe they might feel sorry for me.                                                                                                                                               Not even a little.

I thought I could bribe one of them.                                                                                                                                                               There aren’t enough Blow-Pops in the world.  

I tried threats.                                                                                                                                                                                                 They laughed in the face of danger.

You see, I have discovered one of the core truths of the universe . . .                                                                                                         You can’t create a clean-freak.  You can’t wish it to be true.  

There is no happy ending to this story.  I will muddle through the rest of the year.

I will hold tight to the promise of next year and the possibility a clean-freak might move up from 5th grade, or maybe a new kid will move into the district.  

There is always hope.  I will try not to cry . . . anymore.

In the meantime, please keep me in your thoughts.  It’s a long time til June.



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