Marcos raised his hand to ask me a question, but I was too distracted from the words that I thought I saw on his silicone bracelets to pay attention. I squinted at him, trying to focus on what he was saying and while looking at the lettering on his bracelets.
Surely. No. It couldn't be.
"Marcos, just come here," I motioned him over to me. He asked his question. I answered. I was too distracted by my own agenda.
I pointed to his bracelets, "What were you thinking? You can't wear those! Take them off. I should take them, but you may put them in your pocket. If I ever see them again, I will take them and cut them into tiny little pieces."
You see, he had two thick silicone bracelets that said, "F*ck You." (censored for my dad)
He was irritated at having to take them off, but he shrugged off my reaction like it was no big deal. That ratcheted my irritation.
"It is so disrespectful! You raise your hand, and what's the message you're sending to me from your jewelry? What did I ever do to you? You know, I saw a woman with a shirt that said that once, and I instantly wanted to punch her. I'm a peace-loving teacher, but her t-shirt provoked me. Why do you want that reaction from people? It's not at all funny. Nor is it charming."
Several of his classmates were staring at him like he was an idiot.
I wanted to tell that disrespectful little boy to F-off himself.
He (and I) was lucky the bell rang for the next class.
I had my doubts about how I handled it. I probably should not have told him how I wanted to punch someone who had delivered the same passive aggressive message to me before. Mostly, I was pretty sure I should have simply taken the bracelets. It's just that I hate taking student possessions.
Two period later, I spotted him in French class with the bracelets on. He had the better sense to turn the words inward, but I did tell him if I ever saw them again, I would take them. So I did.