Mr W comes home from school occasionally and laments how other kids sometimes sort of pick on him. They will trade insults, and kids sometimes will get in his face a bit and ask what he's doing. For the latter, I talked to him about how it's probably a fun thing for the other kid if Mr W shows how annoyed he is. For the former, I advised keeping his jabs clever, but not personal. Somehow, he didn't see that making a dig about a kid's C+ on his report card wasn't hurtful.
It's hard to think on one's feet, and difficult to negotiate all the social stuff of middle school. It's funny that one of the kids that annoys him at the moment is a squirt about 6" shorter than Mr W. I wonder if these kids instinctually jab at him because they know he's pretty peaceful (although he did say he wanted to slam this kid into the lockers...).
We talked about ways to deflect annoying people, and I'm pleased to say that it worked, at least it did yesterday. I suggested that when the kid came up to him and started asking how he's doing, that he say something like, "I'm sorry, I don't have time to talk to you right now. I'm (insert something boring and mundane here)". The kid was thrown off his game a bit, and Mr W can now come up with any number of snide remarks: "I'm traveling in the 11th dimension" "I'm working on a plan for world peace" "I'm watching my fingernails grow". He seemed pleased that he was able to have some control over how the interaction took place, and I'll be interested to see if the other kid leaves him alone so he can find someone else who is more fun to bother.