Monday, January 28, 2013

Aaah! The lovely aroma of 8th graders. Or...A roomful of B.O.

I've been doing a lot of substituting lately. With kids getting sick it's inevitable that teachers get sick too. Most of the time I substitute at my boys' elementary school which is handy because it's right across the street from our house. But recently, I was called to sub at the junior high down the road. Back in another life I was an art teacher in a middle school, which is by far my favorite age to teach. Middle schoolers are old enough to do a lot of things on their own, they don't whine (much), and are still young enough to be a bit silly with. they haven't yet succumbed to the idea they are "too cool" to be a little goofy. Middle schoolers come with their own unique sets of strengths, weakness and challenges; one of them being body odor. 

I was an English teacher last week with 6th, 7th, and 8th graders parading through my room throughout the day. Things went smoothly and fairly uneventfully the entire day except for the class right before lunch. In this class, which were 8th graders, there were about a dozen students about half of which were boys. I had handed out their assignment, explained it, answered questions and was walking between desks when I was sporadically being assaulted by a rather unpleasant aroma. Inevitable I found this "fragrance" to be drifting from a boy, well many of them actually. Body Odor. 

B.O. Fairly strong from some of them too! I felt kind of bad for those guys. Most of them were taller than me and probably didn't have a clue that they reeked. I couldn't have told them either!! How on Earth could I have brought to the attention of an 8th grader, subtly and without embarrassment, that they needed to check their deodorant? I probably would have absolutely mortified them! 

"Excuse me, here's some free deodorant. 
Head to the restroom and become acquainted, how about it?" 

Yeah, I don't think so. 

You wouldn't think B.O. would bring back memories to me but it did. Obviously not pleasant ones either. Back when I taught middle school the 8th graders at our school would take a bus trip form Indiana to Washington D.C. every spring. This trip consisted of about 4 charter buses, 100 students, 50 parents and half a dozen or so teachers. We would leave Indiana in the evening and drive all night long...without sleeping much. You know how the rocking motion of a car can put a baby to sleep? Not 8th graders, the rocking motion of a bus brings on extra giggles, goofiness and alertness to 13 year olds. Sometime in the early morning hours we would stop at a truck stop, and give everyone the chance to change and eat (no showers mind) before we got back on the bus. Then it would take us a few more hours to get to D.C. where we'd spend the rest of the day checking out the sites (off, on, off, on, off, on the bus) before we'd finally make it to our hotel about 9pm. So 100 kids, packed on a bus, over 24 hours without showering, constantly moving in the warm May air. Add onto that a broken air conditioner on the bus and you have a gourmet recipe for FUNK!! year my bus's air conditioner broke down and we were driving in downtown D.C. with temps in the 70's and 80's and boy was it ever miserable. It smelled so bad even the boys were complaining of the stench. These were boys who played football, basketball and wrestled and practically lived in a locker room so that should give you some idea of how badly our bus reeked. Yep, the horrible memory of those 8th graders' B.O is with me to this day, over ten years later. 

Though I don't usually get called to substitute at the junior high, I already have four days scheduled in February to be back among these wonderful kids. They may be smelly but I really do enjoy working with middle school students. Just the thought of four more days walking among them sends a flurry of questions through my mind.

"Where can I buy a pair of "discreet" nose plugs?"

"How early would I have to arrive at school in order to slip deodorant into each of their lockers?"

"When do boys start getting smelly?"
(I need to know because I'll be getting the FUNK double in my house and I need to be prepared!!) 


  1. Ha! This made me laugh! I'm surprised you like teaching middle school age. I think that would be the hardest because they are in that transition stage.

    1. See i think it's just the perfect age because they are transitioning, well, except for the smell :)

  2. Ok, You have two options as I see it:
    1. find your favorite Yankee Candle fragrance in car deodorize form, and hang it around your neck or
    2. find a tool belt, load it with Febreeze bottles, and spray/spritz as needed.

    The bad thing is that even when these kids leave, their "essence" lingers on!

    1. Yes! the smell does linger!! I LOVE the Febreeze idea though LOL!

  3. Orange peels. It's good for the winter months because you can eat oranges and get extra vitamin C and then the peels deodorize the air.

    I think 13 is the age when the smell begins. You're OK for a bit longer at your house. ;)

    1. :) Thanks! Orange peels on a teacher's desk would be very inconspicuous. I'll be trying it tomorrow, wish me luck!

      13...I'll mark it on the calendar...HA HA!

  4. Oh, I long have forgotten the middle school boy smell. It made me very queasy!!!!! Every middle school mother should make sure their little boys are getting shower and deorant every single morning!!!


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