Monday, April 14, 2008
The Sensitive Issue of Smelly Students.
Teenagers smell. They can't help it. It's hormones combined with the sad attempt to disguise the said stench with gallons of deodorant. If televised commercials are to be believed, they should- in theory- be swarmed by women like flies on poo. I guess if the women were interested in poo, they'd be set, because quite honestly it smells like some of them have made more than a passing acquaintance with a steaming pile of dung.
Some of my students have come to school sharing a variety of delightful odors. I've had one who refused to bathe and didn't change sanitary pads and so once at least one week a month it meant no work would be done because all my other students who would complain about the smell the entire time. Also, trying to speak without breathing through your nose is pretty damn obvious, and not wanting to hurt feelings, I had to be discrete. That was back when they used to give us money to buy rewards for our students... That year, I made ALL my prizes for the girls things that smelled nice, so it wouldn't be so obvious. She got a nice little bath set. I asked the nurse if she could talk to her about hygiene, as that is more her field than mine but she refused. She told me she doesn't "do that."
Another student came from the family home from hell. He worked on cars in his spare time and literally smelled of feces every single day. It was all I could do to not gag when I had to work close to him. He was a very angry, depressed young man and so it wasn't a topic I was going to touch... Ten foot pole or otherwise.
Last week, the topic of malodorous students arose with a kid who normally only stinks of cigarettes, but this time he was sporting something particularly nose-hair curling. His first bell teacher approached me and told me the smell was enough to almost make him lose his breakfast. I saw the kid later and had totally forgotten about his "Odor Report". He asked to stay with me all day instead of going to his classes and promised to do all of his work. I said I'd think about it after the next class he had which I would also be in.
I was rudely reminded of what his first bell teacher had told me when I saw his best friend approach him then promptly turn away yelling "Aw hell naw, I'm gonna work over there by myself. It stinks like butt up in here." Oops. The penny dropped, I was able to correctly add two and two, the light turned on, etc... He didn't want to be in his classes because he smelled so bad.
Towards the end of that class, I told him he could stay in my room and I'd be there to teach him all he would be missing in his classes. He gave me the sincerest thanks at the end of that day, it was quite sweet. And he was even thoughtful enough to open one of my windows and sit by it the whole time.
Many students reek of cigarette smoke, and (as I've been told) weed too. Being the naive little person that I am, I have no idea what weed smells like so whenever I'm told a kid stinks of it I'm half tempted to stroll past said pot-head repeatedly until I memorize the smell for future reference. Problem is, having permanent allergy issues means I struggle to identify smells other than recognize their intensity. I know that sounds weird, but sometimes I'm aware there is a strong odor, but my olfactory senses are so shot to hell I can't tell what it is I am smelling. Some days are better than others. Needless to say that with spring upon us right now with a particularly pollen-laden vengeance, I'm incapable of smelling much of anything at the moment.