In the seventh grade, I was promoted from president of the class geek-nerd-brainiac society to, well, if not fully cool, then at least on the way. I had discovered two sports I excelled in golf and baseball and the girls had discovered that I was one of the best, if not the best, dancer in the class. My classmates began overlooking the fact that I was a straight-A student, always sported a few pimples, and wore thick glasses.
My sudden popularity went immediately to my head. Seeing an opening, I promptly assigned myself to the role of class comedian. In no time, a very sick co-dependent relationship developed between my fellow students and me. They depended on me for jokes, and I depended on them for laughter. It goes without saying that the more they laughed, the more I joked.
My teachers tried in vain to get me to comport myself properly. They kept me after school, gave me extra work, had me write I will not interrupt instruction with what I think are funny jokes but what are in fact immature remarks one thousand times, then two thousand times, and so on. When my teachers finally accepted that they had failed to suppress my craving, they began sending me to the principal, but all he did was talk to me about how I had a lot of potential and could be a positive role model and how disappointed he was in me. Needless to say, that didnt work, either. In fact, the more the authorities failed at turning me back into a nerd, the worse I became (or better, depending on who was making the judgment).
One February day, my parents went to the school for what I thought was a routine parent conference. When they came home, they sat me down and my stepfather said, Listen very closely, because I am only going to say this one time. If between now and the end of the school year a teacher reprimands you for any reason, even a wrong reason, you will repeat the seventh grade. I remember his words precisely because they changed my life.
I remembered this event when some parents recently told me their son had become the class clown. I listened to their description and disagreed. The clown is silly, immature, and has few friends. Their son was a troublemaker, but he is genuinely funny and has a good number of friends. That describes the class comedian. Both the clown and comedian are disruptive, but one needs tough love, while the other just needs tough. Trust me. I have experience in this matter.