Caffeine: The Solution to all Problems?


By: Sarai Exil

Caffeine has become my new boyfriend.  I promised I wouldn’t start seeing him this year, but after a week at Linden-McKinley STEM Academy (the school that I serve in) … my morning, doesn’t exist without him.

He warms me up on my walk to the school, and BURNS me once I hit the un-air-conditioned halls of LMSA.  I’m sweating buckets by the time an hour has passed in 1st block, only because my entire class is in an intense game of babogies.

For those of you who have NO idea what this game is about, let me fill you in.  You first have to be locked into the group of gamers by hooking your pinky to someone who’s already in the game.  Secondly, you have to be on the watch out for players saying any words starting with “B.”  If someone says a “B” word without saying “babogies,” they will be hit immediately by each and everyone else playing the game.

As you can see, it’s crazy.

The cool wind is brought into the classroom by a window fan as I lean towards the table to explain how to draw a graph.  I try not to over-think the simplicity of the work, although this situation is common at LMSA.

The child has missed 12 days out of the 4 and a half weeks school has been in session.  She’s constantly asking to go to the bathroom once she no longer understands the assignment.  What gets me every time is how she multiplies with her fingers at age 14 … technically she’s just adding.

I enjoy how Caffeine meets up with me for lunch in a cooling form, and reenergizes my suffering body for the rest of the day.  I chat with my lunch buddy about plans for after-school or tutoring inside of class. The ringing bell always comes too early.

Frustration completely takes over my body as I ask a student for the fourth time to put away his cell phone in third block. They act so innocent as I hand them a Wednesday School form to sign; I swear half these kids would make it on the stage.

But I have wonderful moment’s during third block as well: tears about being flirty with your best friend’s boyfriend can be easily wiped away by letting it all out on my shoulders; celebrating his touchdown at last Friday’s game, not only gives me respect from that student, but he’ll also stick up for me during class; showing her you care by challenging her in academics so she can reach her dream of playing college basketball.

I have rough days, but these kids have rough lives.

“Mom needed to sleep, so I took care of the babies the whole week. Sorry, I missed class…”

“No, man, let me sleep!  My brother played video games all night, and nobody could sleep…”

“Do you think I care if you fail me? I’m going nowhere…”

Flinches when anyone goes up to grab his or her attention. Huge scars of past fights. Teenage bodies lined with tattoos.

And honestly, my rough day is always solved with a cup, maybe two or three, of caffeine.

How do you solve these lives?

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