I was a little disappointed that Daniel dropped out of school, but not at all upset that I stopped receiving death threats. I thought I had slain the dragon, and settled down to my happily ever after. However, I soon discovered that I had only battled the enchantment protecting the dragon’s lair, and the true contest was yet to come. The next attack came from a different angle. One of the counselors stopped by my room during my conference period to let me know that she had just changed a schedule and put Frank in my class. For a moment I was tricked by this siren’s song and allowed myself to be lulled into a false sense of security. I thought of how kind and considerate it was for her to go out of her way to tell me about a schedule change, and I looked forward to meeting this new pupil. I knew I was headed for trouble when I looked up his previous schedule to find out whom to get his grades from and discovered that Frank had already been through three other History teachers, and it was only October. However I decided that I had the upper hand in the impending contest due to the fact that I had a 24 hour head start. I quickly assigned Frank a spot in the seating chart and then began searching for information that I could wield in my favor. I went to Frank's most recent History teacher. When I mentioned his name the teacher first cringed, then shuddered, then said “good luck” and promptly walked out of the room. With that resounding vote of confidence I made my way back to my room and prepared for the worst.
The following day I returned from the cafeteria a few minutes early, anxious to prepare for my new disruptive student. I was momentarily caught off guard when I discovered that he had beaten me and was waiting for me outside my door. I quickly put on my serious I’m-in-charge-of-this-classroom face and unlocked my door. Frank had been through enough schedule changes by this point in the year to know that his ticket into my classroom was a copy of the new schedule. With a flourish in his wrist he handed me the required documentation, and then with all the femininity of a damsel in distress sighed rather significantly, leaned on my door frame, tilted his head to one side, batted his eyelashes and asked, “Miss, do I look pretty today?” In all of my mental preparations it had never occurred to me that my new antagonist would be a boy who wished he was a girl.
I tried not to focus on the exorbitant amount of foundation, eye shadow, and lip gloss that was caked on his face and told him where his assigned seat was. He tossed his head and swung his hips all the way to his desk. When class started Frank started rummaging through his purse. I watched closely hoping that he would take out some paper on which to complete the warm up assignment. My optimism shattered when instead his hand emerged clutching a rather large make up bag. He pulled out a compact and carefully applied some rather dark eye liner, gazed at his reflection for a few moments and then decided he needed some more lip gloss. He settled on some clear lip gloss with glitter in it and went to work. Even my most dedicated and disciplined students had a hard time focusing on the task at hand, and all eyes were on Frank.
Frank had an interesting ritual. Maybe he was still determining what makeup was best for his coloring. He would spend several minutes applying makeup, then admire his handiwork in the mirror for a while, then pull out a washcloth to wipe off all of the makeup and start over. He was challenging to the class in a number of ways: 1) he didn’t care about History or listen to a single thing that I said. This made him about average for fifth period. 2) Instead of using the normal methods of ignoring me such as falling asleep, passing notes, or texting, Frank's makeup ritual was quite distracting to everyone in the room. 3) He loved to play the race card. Anytime I asked him to do anything he responded with “You just hate me because I’m black.” 4) He made my other students uncomfortable. All sorts of behavior problems that had never existed before began to surface when Frank entered my classroom. This was a difficult predicament. He would say the oddest things. Once he asked me if I liked his new lip gloss. Once he told me he liked my eye shadow and wanted to know where I bought it. Once he asked the girl sitting behind him if she would pluck his eyebrows for him. Fortunately for me, Frank liked to stand up before interrupting class, so my standard response to all of his antics quickly became “Frank, please sit down.” “Miss, you just hate me because I’m black.” “Frank, I don’t hate you. Please sit down.”
After about two weeks of this the tension in my classroom started to settle down. The other kids realized that Frank wasn’t going anywhere, and found some sort of comfort in the daily ritual of me assuring Frank that I didn’t hate him and asking him to sit down. Frank realized that I wasn’t going to write him up, so he was stuck in my class for the foreseeable future. He even occasionally took a break from his makeup routine to take some notes.