Bigger Paper

Martin is annoying. There is no way around saying this thing.

I’m not going to feel bad for it either.

Martin is a 4th grade student and more than just an underdog in my mixed-age 4th-6th grade class.

He’s an outsider, an uninvited guest, a buttinsky.

Lately, Martin has been grabbing kids’ hats off their heads and running away with them at recess. One student said it wasn’t just hats, he had taken her squishy and disappeared with it.

The students will only tolerate so much of his behavior before they say things like:

“Move away from me!”

“Could you be anymore annoying?”

Martin is notorious for needing to hear things more than once.

There are times I have no compassion left to muster a calm response. I say things like:

“I will not have this conversation with you anymore!”

“Don’t think about asking me that again!”

Martin stirs up the snarliest version of me.

If this were a game, Martin would be winning. I break enough of the time.

“Martin is an excellent artist. Have you ever really looked at his drawings?” a sixth grade student asks.

“Sure, I’ve looked at them.” Martin corners me everyday with his drawings of wild, hideous creatures. I’m very familiar with them. In fact, I’m certain one of his creatures are based on me.

“Martin is still taking people’s things,” the student said. “It’s a real problem.”

There’s a pause. The student says,”But his drawings are good! You know what he said to me today that I liked? He said, I have all these ideas in my head I want to draw, but this paper just isn’t big enough to hold them all.”

4 thoughts on “Bigger Paper”

  1. Oh my gosh, I just love this piece! My favorite lines are “snarliest version of me” and “If this were a game, Martin would be winning.” But what I really love is the HONESTY . Your short, spaced sentences and dialogue really work. And the end coming to explain the title- just beautiful. I think maybe Martin is in the right place. Sorry!


  2. Oh my, have I had my share of Martins! A psychologist the school hired to help me told me that the kid isn’t doing this on purpose – not doing this to annoy me, but instead this is part of the way they are. The kid didn’t have the social or coping skills he/she needed. And while that seemed to be true, the behaviors definitely brought out the worst in me, too.


  3. After a day where I felt like I was the bitch teacher, I needed this. Just the humaness of it. The fact that we are all just humans crashing into one another. As an educator I am supposed to have all of the answers. Be amazing every single moment. Though you claim this student annoys you, you do want to connect with him. Through his art. The other students see it, too. You left just enough for some places to go. Thank you.


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