Meet a few of the first graders:
Perezoso, the incalculably lazy Hispanic boy who will not do a single goddamn thing unless you hover over him every second. He must be threatened with the loss of recess before he'll finish one single task, usually by the time nearly every other kid has done four or five tasks. When reminded of work he needs to do, he'll say, "I forgot," or "Ohhhhhh" in a wondering tone, as if it had never occurred to him before. We cannot find a carrot or a stick big enough to get this kid to move on his own. It's like pulling teeth.
Drooly, the Asian girl who's fairly smart, but clumsy, sloppy, and messy. She has some kind of hip problem, some kind of eye problem, and some kind of attention problem. Her desk is always littered with paper and folders. Every time she bends over to pick up something off the floor (which she does only when instructed, and even then rarely), she invariably knocks something else to the floor.
Sassy, a not-so-bright little blonde girl whose mother is a pull-out teacher. She's annoyingly rude at times, and seems to believe that acting like that is cute. It isn't. her mother has come in to the room three times to talk with Ms. L about her daughter's interactions with another girl, who's much better behaved. Sassy's mother is convinced, of course, that it's this other girl's fault. "Sassy says this girl is always bothering her, and that's why her behavior sticker is on yellow every day." Uh-huh. That's why your kid is always sitting next to the other girl and talking to her, right? Nice job being played by your own seven-year-old, lady.
Lecti, a gifted Asian girl. Like another impressively intelligent girl I worked with (the old Job's Boss' daughter), she is usually pretty neat to have around. But she has a low emotional maturity and can be clingy. Also --- and I'm sure this is a common problem with kids so smart and so unused to mental challenge --- when faced with something she can't do easily, such as the time the kids made a paper shape balance on a pencil point by adding weights, she whines and gives up.
Hefty, a very large, football-playing boy. He's got a sweet nature, but he tries to rush through his work and gets frustrated when I send it back. Today he blew through his nostrils, like a bull, while I was giving him strategies for improving his writing. I can only imagine what a lost cause he may turn out to be when he hits puberty, is enormously strong, and people are telling him he may have a future in football. Unless he respects his teachers, they'll be in for a world of eye-rolling and ignoring.