One of my friends asked me after church last night how I liked the new Halo game. And all I could get out was, "Dude, I love it-" when an eleven-year old girl interrupted me.
She said, "Ugh, all I hear at school is stupid boys talking about how much they love Halo. And I still can't get away from it. And these are grown men!"
Now I'm not in favor of hitting other people's kids, but I see the temptation of it now. And in that moment, I realized why I will never become a teacher. Because I am not equipped to handle that kind of attitude. Call it what you want; sass, backtalk, prosecutor's evidence for my inevitable child abuse trial. But that kind of thing is just too much for me.
And I didn't know how to respond. I felt insulted, belittled, and mocked. And because she was eleven, it was amplified about 20 times. In the three seconds of silence that followed her little comment, I went through all the possible responses I could have used. They ranged from completely ignoring her to getting in a yelling match that ended in both of us crying. And I couldn't think of a single thing to say that wouldn't make me look like more of an idiot. I wanted to respond like an adult, but I was finding it hard not to make a flatulent noise and call her a doodoo-head.
Because I'm a respectful adult (and since her parents were standing right there), I settled on muted indignation and self-deprecating humor (my old standby). I said, "Who says I'm a grown man? Don't let the beard fool you, young lady. I'm just a giant kid who loves video games."
Everyone laughed and I didn't look like a complete tool. But I still ended up feeling like a loser because of a girl who's younger than my car. It's weird that more than a decade after I leave junior high, the girls there can still make me feel stupid. (But I don't really care. Her feet are too big for her body, and those shoes did not match her top. It's whatevs.)