Don’t bate the bear

I have a sophomore who is belligerently dedicated to getting straight A’s.

What an interesting way to describe a student, Mrs. Crumpett, you might say. And so I might answer:

He is not a happy guy. He hates having grades lower than an A- but will not accept compliments or awards for his effort. If you try to give him one, he will walk away muttering about the uselessness of awards.

For six months last year, he was super pissed at me because I didn’t warn him that he was going to receive a certificate for his grades (even though he knows I didn’t know it was going to happen). I won’t deny that I also egged him on by periodically suggesting that I was recommending him for various recognitions at the next (completely hypothetical, but he didn’t know that) awards ceremony.

Anyway, yesterday, he received a letter inviting him to apply to National Honors Society. I was thrilled, but contained myself. No one was more shocked when he smiled (I cannot emphasize how rare this is) and showed me the letter, told me he was “kinda excited about it” and said he was thinking about getting an application “even though it means I’ll have to get up in front of people.”

I wanted to ask him who he was and what did he do to my student, but instead, I calmly smiled and told him I thought it was a good idea. (Mentally I’m shrieking like a twelve-year old, leaping onto my desk and doing the happy dance.)

Today, I found out we’re having an awards ceremony next week based on GPA. This means he will get an award. This means that he will have to accept said award in front of several hundred people. I almost wasn’t going to tell him about it, but thought he might appreciate a few extra days to get used to the idea. This is how the conversation went down:

Me (cautiously): So… did you know we’re having another awards ceremony next week?

Student (darted an if-looks-could-kill gaze at me, growling): What?! Why?!

Me (carefully): It’s only for our floor and it’s based on grades.

Student (pissed): I’m not getting one.

Me (slowly): Well, you got straight A’s, you’re getting an award, kiddo. All you have to do is walk up, take the award, turn around, and walk back to your seat.

Student (frowning): I’m not going to do it. I’m not going to school that day.

Me (trying to hide a smile): You never miss school, ever.

Student (won’t even look at me): Well, I’ll be sick. Yeah, I feel like being sick that day.

Me (can’t hide the laugh): Oh, ok. Would you rather I hadn’t given you a heads up?

Student (very serious): No. But I am not happy about it. And really, I will be sick that day.

Me (after a slight pause): You know, I like this new you. I think I’m going to talk to Mr. X about creating an award for “Most Cheerful Student.” I think that has your name written all over it.

Student: (he laughed)

Me (under my breath): And who ever said not to bate the bear?!

Student: Huh?

Me: Oh, nothing…

Student: Whatever, Miss…

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