Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Middle School Romance

Tammy and Ryan are "in love," as she tells it. She professed this Friday, three days after they started their courtship. She gave Ryan a note that expressed her deep love and desire: "I love you so much and would like to know when you are going to kiss me." Poor Ryan (a high-funtioning 7th grader with EBD, who cares mostly about Pokemon and video games, not girls) took the note home and showed his mom, saying, "This is kinda weird, isn't it?" Uh, yeah.

I phoned Tammy's mom on Friday and let her in on the romance. She was shocked and worried. I assured her that "dating" in middle school is pretty common, and that Tammy (a cognitively disabled 15-year old 8th grader) was simply mimicking typical teenage behavior she sees on tv or in movies. I reassured her mom that we'd work with Tammy, maintaining a healthy supervision level and helping her learn appropriate boundaries. She said she would also talk with Tammy at home.

Tammy came in yesterday, avoiding my glance. She turned to Ryan and drammatically but sincerely asked him to forgive her. Of course, he had no idea what she was talking about, so she had to tell him, "I'm sorry about the note."

"Oh, okay," came his panicked, please-can-we-not-talk-about-this reply.

I sat down with Tammy (privately) and drew up a chart: Having a Boyfriend in Middle School...Appropriate/Inappropriate Behaviors
Here's what we came up with:

Appropriate: Say hi. Smile. Ask friendly questions. Sit next to each other in assemblies or at lunch. Ask about their weekend.

Not Appropriate: Kissing, holding hands, professing love after three days, sitting on laps, following the person around the room and standing next to his/her desk while he does his work, calling the boyfriend more than once per day (or more than the parents allow)

I also let Tammy know that there are some other very appropriate things she can do if she is interested in impressing a boyfriend. My suggestions included washing her hair, wearing clean clothes, keeping her glasses clean, and not whining.

Of course, there are many other things I could have told her about boyfriends; that they can be more trouble than they are worth (at least until the age of 25 or so), just for starters, but she has stars in her eyes...true love does that, you know?


  1. heh...you're a great teacher. i love how you get hygiene into the "good" pile :)

  2. Thanks for saying "hygiene," DW. It reminds me that I forgot to put "wear deodorant" on the list!

    Honestly, that topic freaks me out (see "Never Say Never" post from September), but it always seems to come up with this population. Our talk seemed like the perfect time to sneak a lesson in! I hope it helps!

  3. My mom always said I should never marry until I was at least 30.

    I have to say, I think she was right. Especially now that I have a 9-year old getting phone calls from girls!!

  4. I like the- not whining part on your ideas list. ;)
    you are so good. I wish someone would have talked to me like that.


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