Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Slice of Life Tuesday--The Backpack Swap

At 3:07, the final bell buzzed and a frantic child ran through my classroom door.  "Ms. S. I took the wrong backpack!  I took Josh's by mistake!  We have the same exact backpack! I don't know what to do!"  Clearly devastated over the loss of his backpack, Michael and I decided to rummage through the sixth grade hallway and beyond in search of Josh and the missing backpack.  However, Josh was nowhere to be found, and neither was the backpack.

Since we were having little luck, Michael ran to the office to see if the backpack was returned by some chance; but he returned looking worried and was empty-handed.  Michael then began to look through every locker in the locker room, where his backpack last was, and every lost and found bin. After looking in all of the places that the backpack could be, Michael was convinced that the backpack had met a dark end.  I told him, however, that it had to be a just a simple mistake and that Josh must have his backpack since he had Josh's.  Michael continued to panic, though, worried that he'd be in trouble at home for losing his backpack.

"Absolutely everything is in that backpack!" he claimed, "Everything! And there's a math quiz tomorrow and social studies homework tonight! And a science quiz Thursday! Ughhh! What am I going to do?"

I explained to Michael that it wasn't the end of the world.  It was going to be okay.  It was just a backpack after all.  Even after explaining how I lose things on a daily basis, Michael didn't buy in.

"Well now people are spreading rumors that I stole Josh's backpack!"

"Okay Michael, let's calm down.  Why don't we see if we can get in contact with Josh."

But Michael couldn't.  He didn't have Josh's cell phone number.

Michael then ran back down to the office to see if the missing backpack had surfaced yet. Meanwhile, as I waited in my room, an announcement rang loudly over the loudspeaker.  "Josh, please report to the main office.  We have something of yours that you need." That made me smile a little because I find it both endearing and a little comical when sixth graders think it's the end of the world when things that clearly aren't the end of the world, such as losing a backpack, occur.

A few seconds later, our secretary called to ask me what to do about the panicked student who keeps going to the office every thirty seconds to see if his backpack is there.  I told her to send him up to me once more.

As I tried to calm down an exasperated Michael again (which I've learned can be a very challenging thing to do), I heard footsteps coming our way.  Josh appeared at our classroom door! A big, toothy smile appeared on Michael's face and he jumped for joy (literally), and then hugged Josh.

Josh explained that he grabbed the wrong backpack by mistake, and he went to Michael's mom's house first to see if he was there, and then went to his dad's house because Michael wasn't at his mom's, and finally decided to try his luck at school.

As I watched the boys giggling over the "backpack swap" and the relief on Michael's face, I couldn't help but be reminded about why middle school is the best age to teach.  My sixth graders are a mix of sweet and zany and dramatic and comical all in one--and they care so much about their missing backpacks and about helping out a friend--the best mix there could be!

I'm going to miss these two next year, but I won't forget this silly ordeal that turned out to be just fine!


  1. It is amazing how they see the world differently and we need those reminders! Thanks for the story.

  2. That Michael! Your story caught sixth graders at their most quintessential...glad things turned out well for Michael, so that he can give those nice ladies in the main office a break tomorrow.

  3. You really captured the intensity of Michael's feelings in this piece. Love the cartoon, too!