That's the perfect word to describe my ninth-grade class. (And I don't mean only this one here in Georgia -- every ninth-grade class I've ever taught anywhere!)
By "mercury" I mean in just about every sense of the word. They're up; they're down. They always carry the latest news from one person to another. They just may be toxic if you ingest them. Some of them may have spent time too close to the sun...... But seriously, aren't ninth graders about as unpredictable as you can get? Today they were up.
In my present ninth-grade class, the boys and girls are pretty evenly divided. The "bitchebi" (Georgian for "boys"..... great word!) sit grouped together in the center and spread to the back of the room. The "gogebi" ("girls") form a semi-circle around the boys.....sometimes I think to shield them from the learning that is happening at the front of the room.....sometimes to supply much-needed answers. Regardless of the reason, the bitchebi form a dark mass of black leather jackets and Armani/D&G/Gucci knock-off stocking caps. Entire classes would go by without a word being uttered from the dark mysteriousness if I didn't call on the boys specifically -- and then quickly shush the gogebi who automatically turn to the singled-out victim to administer the verbal cure for their present ailment. (Although they may be catching on to the new, expected-participation tactics that I am teaching them and their teacher -- lately some of the boys have volunteered answers on their own. Woo hoo!!)
The gogebi are not quite so uniform in their dress..... then again, most of them do wear tall black boots, black skirts, scarves, and black jackets with fur-trimmed hoods..... Maybe the lack of similar hats keeps them from looking like carbon-copies of each other. Well, that and their unique, precious smiles. Anyway, the girls do not appear en masse like the boys do. (I know I talked about uniformity in dress and look yesterday, but it is relevant again today.)
Lika and I walked into their classroom today and set our things down on the teacher's desk at the front of the room. As we do every day, we asked how they were doing. As I was looking from one student to another, a new repeating shape caught my eye. All the girls were wearing the same headband -- a thin band with a bow on one side covered in a Coco Chanel double "c" and some cute little rhinestones. It was like "fashion spirit day." I commented on how nice their new headbands looked, and one of the girls said that the bitchebi had gotten them as gifts for all the girls for Women's Day. I smiled at the sheepishly grinning bitchebi and told them that it was very sweet of them to do that for the gogebi. I love the sheepish grin of a ninth grade boy not quite sure whether or not he should be pleased with a compliment from the teacher -- adorable.
He, he -- "fashion spirit day"......