Monday, August 13, 2012

School Dreams = Slender Man

Last night, my thirteen year old son interrupted our viewing of the closing ceremonies from London by racing into the bedroom clutching his laptop, giddy and out of breath.  No, he hadn't finished his summer reading assignment (let alone start it), instead he wanted his mother to try a video game: Slender Man.

"Is it scary?" my wife asked.

"Ah, no, Mom, just try it," he said, grinning a.k.a. Cheshire Cat-like.

She immediately passed the laptop to me.

In essence, the game involves traipsing through the woods with tunnel vision perspective, your view illuminated only by the light of a flashlight you control, searching for eight notebook pages before Slender Man (always in tow) finds his way into your field of vision (the screen turns snowy, Slender Man's opaque figure manifests and he catches you).  I found three pages and bit the dust.  It's an unsettling game and churns the adrenalin.  After about fifteen minutes of losing repeatedly, I tossed the laptop back to my son.

At midnight, I went outside with our special needs poodle, Rudy, to watch the meteor shower.  I saw three streak across the northeast sky, Rudy stood next me, head hung low staring at a dead beetle on the deck.  It's a toss up on which of us was more excited.

Bed time...and the the school dream began (insert Twilight Zone music here).

Normally the dream takes shape in my classroom, always overflowing with students, faces I've never seen before.  It's the clinical I-don't-have-control-over-my-students-dream.  It begins simply enough, I am usually just trying to take attendance or get students to settle down and then it escalates.  Actually, now that I reflect on this recurring dream, the only thing that escalates is me.  The students are always calm, but noisy.  I always end up storming out of the room, filling out an application for Wal-Mart, or in the fetal position under my desk, murmuring incoherently, a puddle of drool soaking into the blue carpet.

Dream analysis: I-don't-have-control-over-a-damn-thing-in-my-life and we-are-at-the-mercy-of-our-students-every-day-we-enter-the-classroom.

But last night's dream was different.... (cue Twilight Zone, again).

It began with me hiking in the woods, searching for the professional day workshop.  I arrived, late, but was soon interrupted by the ninth grade counselor.  I was now late for a PPT.  I remember feeling frustrated that I had to leave the workshop.  We were about to sit in a circle on the rug and share donuts and punch.

 I followed the guidance counselor to the main office.  It was over run with activity.  The principal, now superintendent, was showing the assistant principal, now principal (which is true) a book on how to be a principal.  Students were complaining about classes,  secretaries were scrambling about with boxes of staples and paper clips, and in the corner of the chaos sat a circle of old wooden chairs.  Seated about the circle were two students, what I perceived to be the parents, the counselor, and...... Slender Man.  At least I think it was Slender Man, because I didn't want to make eye contact, because then it would be game over.

The counselor handed me two folders explaining that the twin boys would be in my ninth grade English class and there were many modifications. I thought I recognized the students, and remember rationalizing in my mind that I couldn't possibly know them because they were entering ninth grade.  Mom interrupted my thinking, handing me some sort of purple crystal.  She said it plugged into my car radio.

"Here, you need to use this to update us on the boys' progress every hour of the day," she said to me, handing over crystals and adapters.

"What?" I murmured.

Dad chimed in.  "You need to update us every hour on the hour.  It's all in the folders."

"Using my car radio and purple crystals?"

"New state requirement," the counselor chimed in.

The room froze.  Complete silence.  All eyes were glued on me, waiting for my response.

Slender Man coughed.  At least I think he did.

"New state requirement?" I asked.

Everyone in the room smiled, nodding their heads.

"Purple crystals and a car radio.  Well, that makes sense."

That's when my vision clouded and Slender Man got me.

Game over.

Dream analysis:  I-don't-have-control-over-a-damn-thing-in-my-life and we-are-at-the-mercy-of-our-students-every-day-we-enter-the-classroom.

Thank God they're good kids.