There are many things that I love about my temporary stint substitute teaching. However, there is one aspect of substituting that I love above all.
Getting clued in about their crushes.
For some reasons, students really love revealing their romances (or in some grades, complete lack thereof). As I mentioned earlier, I’ve substituted every grade from preschool through high school. Through this, I’ve begun to notice how crushes start—and then change— with age. Here is a glimpse into genders by grade:
Preschool: The only way that students notice if their classmates are a boy or girl are their color preferences and names. Girls like pink and purple. Boys are obsessed with blue. If it was not for color preferences and names, I’m pretty certain preschoolers would not pay any attention to gender. They are far too excited to share every single detail about their dogs, cats, fish, trips, favorite song and food to notice these things.
Kindergarten/1st grade: Boys and girls begin to notice their strengths. A girl offers to assist a boy with his artwork. Another girl helps a boy spell his long last name. A boy puts a puzzle back together for a girl. Another boy helps a girl tie her shoe. However, the only time that they actually decide to do any of these things, of course, if they have a crush.
2nd/3rd grade: This is when the crushes start to break out…but are usually one-sided. In one class, I had a boy reveal his intense romantic feelings in the middle of music class. The girl was mortified. She thinks that kissing is disgusting. The boy was ready to kiss her in Kindergarten.
4th grade: Boys and girls start giving each other space. Boys hang out with the boys. Girls hang out with the girls. Girls discover gossip at this age, and discuss every single detail of their classmate’s crushes…but ONLY speak about their own to their (five or fifteen) best friends. Of course, at this age, secret keeping is not a strong suit. The best friend accidentally spills the secret, and the boy knows within about six seconds. The boy is either disgusted or pumped, depending on whether he’s hit puberty.
5th grade: Romance is on the rise as kids hit the double digits. Boys and girls are both, shockingly, extremely open about their crushes. I have had numerous 5th graders make entire classroom confessions about their crushes. However, they may be willing to make the confession, but are clueless as to exactly what to do about it. The following is a direct texting conversation that I overheard from a 5th grade Girl and Boy:
G: So…I sometimes get bored. I’ll probably text you.
B: Um, ok.
G: (Shyly laughing) Sorry, I just, like, get bored.
B: I’ll probably just be downstairs in my basement watching TV and drinking Pepsi.
Me: You’re going to text her exactly that, aren’t you?
B: Yes. Exactly.
6th/7th grade: Puberty makes crushes problematic. Girls become disinterested, since most of the boys are at shoulder height. They become obsessed with Justin Beiber instead.
8th grade: Boys start to grow a bit, and then get back in the game. They grow their hair long to look like Justin Beiber. Girls go gaga. There is a HUGE range of what actually results in this, however. Some “couples” need their friends to arrange a hugging session. Others find a place in the principal’s office.
Do you remember your crushes at different ages? What was the most awkward encounter you experienced (either from yourself or someone else)?