Thursday, March 26, 2009

Heard Around Campus

There are few things more frustrating, and entirely entertaining, than a middle school student who has been caught doing wrong. Now, those of you with pre or post teens will have heard the standby before, "What? I wasn't doing anything." Completely cliche and boring. (yet, I hear it more than 10x's daily school & home) The following are far more engaging interactions:

Often heard by the classes who love to be off-topic and generally chatty: "Mr ---, you know you love us! We're your best class!" to which his unwavering reply is, "I hate you all equally." Male teachers can get away with so much!

A student's response after being busted throwing paper across the room into the recycling bin: "But I made it...there's no mess." teacher's reply: "Since you are so concerned about the floor, you will stay after class and be sure there is no mess anywhere." (other students inevitably than leave a mess and unpushed chairs - hehehe)

A student who was going into detention for throwing a pencil at another student: "But, I didn't even hit him." teacher stated, "Your bad aim is not my problem."

A girl caught out of dress code -again- being sent to change into PE uniform & call to parents: "But, these shorts aren't that short. I checked this morning and they were fine." teacher: "Ok, go to the office and check with administration. They can call home and your mom will have to come get your clothes." student: "Fine, I'll change. But just let me run to the bathroom and do it, I have a change in my backpack." teacher: "But you knew the clothes were school appropriate right?"

A behavior specialist addressing a student who was using the email: suckmymiddlenut: "Suck my middle nut? Does this seem appropriate to you?" Blank stare by student. "What is a middle nut?" *long pause and continued blank stare* "Do you have a middle nut?" At which point the listening party had to vacate, to contain laughter.

A student caught, just this morning, filling-out 3 identical worksheets. student: "It's not a big deal. They didn't get it and I like doing homework." *really - so that makes this all ok???* teacher: "Is that not cheating?" student: "No, it really all just started as a joke. It's only homework." *yes, this is what she honestly seemed to believe* "I was actually helping them!" *note, the 2 boys in question were not even in the room!*

Yes, these little lovelies are slowly, but surely being shaped into our future! I'll give them this - they are entertaining!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Planes, Jets, & Scared Little Girls

Believe it or not, I had managed to live a bit over 3 decades without ever having been to an airshow. And to add to that shock, I haven't ever really wanted to go to an airshow. In my mind anything that involves knowing series of names that are comprised largely of letter and number sequences (barring C3PO & R2D2 of course) is really a guy thing. Yet, through a series of events Saturday found me in just that situation with Boy and Youngest - without Hubby - yikes!

I have to tell you, I spent a large portion of the day, trying to get names right. Reading plaques and summarizing for Boy. Sure, I can look at a plane with propellers and say - this is from WWII (maybe), but beyond that I am useless. Though I was able to find planes with guns - which Boy wanted to see.

Youngest, was far easier - just let her look at the helicopter - no I don't know what kind it is, but it was BIG!

Everything was going fairly well. Boy was agog with the number of planes and the show began. Youngest was happy too - that is until she heard the F16 (or maybe M16 - no that's a gun isn't it) breaking the sound barrier. Then all bets were off - she was ready to go and let me know through very loud wailing. Lucky for those around us, she could barely be heard over the jets.

As the flights progressed, I have to admit that I was awed. By the sound, the speed, and the general kick-a** abilities of the planes and pilots. My imagination being what it is, allowed me to envision what it would be like, going about my business in enemy territory and having those things fly over your head. And I have to tell you - I would surrender. There is simply no way that you can look and hear that and not say, "OK, I give-up."

I even briefly considered how amazing it would be to fly one - until I remembered I don't even know the names. If a 30+ mother considers this for even a moment, I am thinking it is a pretty effective recruiting device. My son went to bed with visions of flying in his head.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fair Fun!

I grew-up going to county fairs. That is not to say I lived in the country, I was rather firmly wedged in suburbia, IL. But, fairs were a yearly-near-summer-end-event. (If you think only Chicago when you think IL, look at a map - it is covered in farmland) I was lucky enough to have a cottage in Michigan which meant I attended 2 fairs (sometimes 3). All of this is to say that I had developed a love for fairs and certain attractions. Tractor Pulls & Crash-up Derbies are high on the list of fun, loud events to see. Until I moved to Sunnyland.

Alas in Sunnyland, though we are surrounded by farmland (& water), we do not have county fairs that compare to the midwest. There are no cows to milk, though there are cows to see. There are no tractor-pulls. But, we do have something I never saw growing-up
pig races. Yes, those are pigs racing. And do you see the crowd? They are even standing to watch. I do admit, it is enjoyable. But it does not compare to the noise levels of a tractor-pull.

We were visiting the fair last weekend (yes our seasons are backwards here). Apparently, I had the urge to drop buckets of money share my traditions with my children. It is a yearly tradition - what can I say? Teen brought a friend - duh! And the 2 of them quickly escaped to buy armbands and ride until they were queasy. Boy and youngest wandered with Hubby & me. Boy was biding his time and saving his tickets until teen would come back to take him on the Gravitron. So, youngest said she could ride alone. She was "big enough now."

Though she was only on the "safe" rides, it was apparent she did not feel safe. Her expression was one of trepidation, bordering on terror until the restraining devices were firmly locked and checked. At this point, you could watch the fear subside and delight warm her smile. Ahh - the innocence of youth. Completely safe, as long as the seatbelt is buckled.

Teen & friend did come to collect Boy. They went together to ride until they were ill, and then thought it would be fun to pay $5 to win 3 goldfish that would have cost $1.50 in the store. Oh-well, I guess it is the memories that count.

The kids are now trying to see if they can keep these goldfish alive as long as the ones Boy won at the State Fair a few years ago. They lived for almost 2 years. We'll see how it goes.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Learning my Place.

Tuesday morning I was rushing around, preparing the younger sibs. for school. I ducked out of the kitchen to finish my preparation and this is what I heard:

youngest: "I'm leaving my mess for the maid today." *of course she is*

son: "We don't have a maid - clean-up your own stuff."

youngest: "Yes we do. Momma is our maid it's her job."

son: "Nu-huh. Mom's job is not to clean-up after you all the time. Put your bowl in the sink." *bestill my beating heart - a young knight (I should pay that kid more)*

youngest: "Uh-huh mom's jobs are to clean-up she can do it"

son, in a patient but 'I'm at the end of my rope' tone: "No - mom's job is to be a mom and take care of us."

youngest, triumphantly in increasing volume: "Uh-huh, so she can cween my messes!"

son: "Do it yourself!" *At this point Mom reenters the scene, before chaos can ensue.

I help youngest to clean her mess, and we proceed with our morning. At least I know where I stand - right? I may not be the maid, but I am definitely the general of the housework army! Oh-well, here's to hoping while I am at work (doing professional day stuff) Dad will lead the army to completing the weekend chores!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Hug, a babysitter, a smile, and a husband...

Yesterday was a bad day. I knew it would be going in, but somehow that doesn't help when reality is smacking you in the face.

In a lunchroom filled with 400 - yes 400 hungry, gossiping, wiggling 7th graders 2 girls came running up to me calling in a panic. I flew from my seat, expecting to see a child bleeding. What confronted me instead was a girl (with no health history)in seizure on the floor. Thinking calmly (surprise and thank God) I sent 2 girls to the nurse, got down and held said student's head in my lap. Then I waited...and waited... while other teachers directed kids to back-off, go to different tables, clear the area. Eventually help arrived in minutes - 2 sets of paramedics in maybe 10 minutes (but it felt like 30). I am thrilled to report said student was eventually able to walk, talk, and was being taken to the hospital by her parents when last I saw her. It was scary & emotionally draining.

Round 2: Our school district is a mess. People are moving in and moving out. There is instability in the populations at the schools. This means that teachers are cut (surplussed) from one school and then wait almost 2 months to find where (or if) they will be placed at another school. There is no personal control involved and it is strictly based on seniority in the district - which is the entire county of sunnyland. I knew at my school, I was in a low-man situation. When we opened a new middle school this year, almost all of the people lower than me were moved to the new school - so here I sit *quack-quack*.

As if my lunch hadn't been emotional enough, I decide that it is better to know. So, I head to the principal's office on my planning period. Low and behold I am among the 12! teachers being surplussed. (Just because I am newish - which I hate) It was not a surprise. But, it sucks. The team that I work with is sad and I face the uncertainty of where I will be next year. I hate having zero control. Needless to say I was sad and exhausted at the end of the day.

A HUG: My weary a** drags in to daycare and I watch youngest playing for a moment before teacher calls her to go. She comes running, smile as big as the world, knobby knees covered in grime and I squat to receive what definitely ranks as one of the best hugs of my existence. I pick her up and she says - "Uh..I am done hugging now momma!"

A BABYSITTER/SMILE/HUSBAND: When we arrived home, teen came out to tell me dad (hers)is on the phone. I get a smile from boy, who says "I had a good day, mom" Husband says he is taking me out for dinner - be ready. He arrives and teen, who is concerned that I had a "sucky day" but don't want to talk about it, is completely willing to watch her sibs. for dinner. She even acquiesces to bath the dirt monster that is her little sister. Husband is kind, optimistic, and very zen(which drives me crazy). It is my shelter from the storm of life.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Weekend Warrior!

It was supposed to be a relaxing weekend, preferably spent in a tent in the woods...but obligations caused my long weekend to be otherwise engaged. Though I guess I can't complain, I did get a lot done.

Friday I sent the lovely children to their various schools and got myself to work. I started by cleaning the house. (It has been sorely neglected of late) I was mopping the kitchen and trying to get to the edge of grime under the fridge, you know the stuff you see - just barely? Well, this caused me to move the fridge - yucky. I then embarked on the behind the fridge and ceiling fan cleaning. But I was rewarded with a clean house...and no excuse to cut-out on yard work.

Now, a domestic goddess I am not. I want my home clean and my yard pretty, but I am almost illiterate when it comes to plants. So, I muddle through, doing the best I can. In FL if you do not want it to grow, it takes over your yard and if you plant it, it will die. It is the jungle. So, while hubby cut the grass, I spent hours Saturday digging out dirt to fill-in a particular trouble spot with rocks. I love this kind of work. It is simple and produces an area that I can look on in days or weeks and still see my results. Unlike the piles of laundry that are forever reproducing!

So, 5 wagon loads of dirt and 10 bags of stones later I am having a snack and I look out to see the puppy has decided it is his mission to pull all traces of the black matting out - from under the rocks! I am so annoyed, I open the slider and yell. He - in all innocence - cocks his head to the side, still holding the black matting and gives me the "but I am helping you" look. A toddler in dog's clothing!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Thursday's Odd Thoughts

Spring fever is in the air. It can be seen in the faces and the clothing of the kids (both in school and at home). While dropping youngest at pre-k this week it dawned on me that we have been wearing shorts for over a week. This makes no difference in the routine of 2 of my children, but in youngest the weather is seen on her daily. No more dirty kneed pants are stripped off upon entering the house. No, now we are washing filthy knees and faces and elbows. Yesterday I had her wash when we arrived at the door - she was a mess. Then 30 minutes later she pops in from the yard, and I see she is filthy up to her elbows - yet again. As I go for the baby wipes (a staple in my home) she looks at me and says, "Just weave it! I wike it that way." Apparently it is pre-k war paint that allows her to chase the dogs, play with the boys, and generally be wild - all while wearing a pink dress!

Speaking of dresses, I have a teen that needs to buy a dress for confirmation and 8th grade graduation. In many homes this seems a mundane chore, or maybe an exciting excuse to shop together and bond. In my home, it is war. When we were all told of the dress requirement (which I knew was coming - but I guess she didn't) her arms crossed and her face soured. As we left the meeting she proclaimed, "I am not weraing a dress." Daring me to cross her.

My daughter has been a tomboy since birth. While she owned a kitchenette set as a toddler it was for storing dinosaurs or feeding animals and got the most use from weaselmomma's eldest. That is not to say she didn't wear dresses then - she did. But, she hasn't worn one in 5 years. And only sporadic dresses come to mind before then (1st Communion, Nanna's funeral).

Knowing this about her I simply said, "It is the rule. There are many styles, I'm sure we can find something you like."

"Not unless it looks like jeans and a T-shirt," she replied. And I haven't even told her that the Converse won't be going to the altar. HELP!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Date Night

Did you ever just want to go out and do something? Long day at work and you think, "Hey, I'll just get out for a few hours this evening and have some fun"? Well, that was me on Wednesday.

So, I did what any completely boring person would do - I called my mom. My aunt is visiting and I thought, "I'll run out and visit." No cash outlay, no huge commitment, a perfect outing. No one was home. Great, I get to head home and make dinner - whoopee!

Then I thought, "Wait a minute - it's Wednesday! Date night." I made a resolution this year to spend more alone time with my hubby. (yes, I dragged him into my resolution) And date night Weds. was born. I envisioned fishing and hiking and all kinds of activities - forgetting that it is dark at 6:30. So, we have gone on only a few dates - averaging every-other week or so. (he told me that I need to have a plan, or we wind up driving around like lost teens looking for something to do)

Well, I called him at work, remembering that he needed new shoes. I was hyped (probably residual adrenaline from our fund raising) and informed him it was date night. We made plans to meet at the mall. Yes, I was going on a date... to the mall. I don't think I have done this since freshman year! But, you wouldn't have know it from my excitement. I was bouncy and chatty - just downright glad to be going out.

I called home, made arrangements for dinner, blissfully left boy and youngest in the care of teen, and headed to THE MALL. We met and proceeded to shop. He was trying on shoes to buy, and I was trying them on for fun. We spent time hunting for the perfect shoe...and finally he found a pair of shoes he liked - after 3 stores.

Then, we went for a grown-up meal, at a real restaurant - with cloth napkins! I didn't have to order for anyone or referee any arguments. We were able to have an entire conversation without someone needing something. And - this is key - we wanted to stay until after bedtime. Forcing me to order a fresh cannoli for dessert - such hardship.

Of course, upon returning home both smallish children came out to say goodnight, but they were tired and needed little care. (Teen was paid off with the half a cannoli I couldn't eat.) Teen is easy-going and doesn't mind watching her sibs. The kids have a night of pseudo-independence. We have fun and conversation. Even if our dates sound lame, this "date night resolution" is probably the best thing I have come up with so far!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Cut-Throat Giving

At our school we are raising money for a very good cause, Lymphoma & Leukemia Research. The program is called "Pennies for Pasta" - and no I am not about to plead for money. I am going to tell you how cut-throat we (teachers) are behind closed doors!

One teacher on our team (of 4) is in charge of collecting the donations for the team. We were agog when our students (96) brought in close to $250 the first week. Our school qualifies for title 1, meaning more than 1/2 our population qualifies for free or reduced lunch. Other attempts at fundraising have not been a huge hit - so we, as their teachers, were psyched! Wow! Such caring and philanthropy - we knew that we had the best team and were sure to win the prize.

The prize? Yes, a prize - incentive if you will. Lunch catered by the Olive Garden. Apparently food is a good motivator. Well, (and this is when we start down the slippery cut-throat path) we decided we didn't want to submit our change to the lead teacher for counting over the weekend. We decided to keep it to ourselves. Why? Because we want to win! So, Monday rolls around and we discover that we are not the lead, but we are close....

Sliding down the slope: We tell our students the other class standings - reminding them that they are to keep our totals to themselves. (see we are bringing the innocent 7th graders into it) Soon, with the competitive spirit kicking-in we are up to the mid 300's. Now we are making the big push - we have student-counters who are able to count in the store room when they are done with their work and we know we are climbing. We (as teachers) complain that another team is offering homework passes and other goodies for giving (they want lunch too!). The students feed off the cloak and dagger feel of the giving and love to talk about it - among the team. We now have nearly $500 - the students are hyped-up and strongly motivated. The scouts were sent out today and came back with the report that there is a team nearing $450 (we perceive them as the largest threat). But, it occurs to me that there could easily be another team as devious as us - and what then??? EEEK! Only 1 day to go - maybe we could do free time for a buck? Ugghhhh - who knew giving could skate the thin ice of morality?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Monday's Madness

A cold front came when we were not looking. It creeped in Sun. am and the temps were dropping all day! Now we are forcasted to only hit a high of 62 today - brrrrr! (My sweaters are getting quite a bit of use lately.) I will be using the cold weather as an excuse for the disjointed tidbits that I will be assembling today as my post.

Youngest was patiently explaining to me why she had taken a bad fall at pre-k last week. It was bike day, and she chose to bring her scooter.
"When the little hill in the circle came it was really fast. I fell and my bum went on the wheel. I was crying in the grass."
me: "Then what happened?"
youngest: "Miss Angela came and I felt better. I tried again, but mom, (with her hand holding the handle bar of her princess scooter) this baby's hard to handle!"

Boy, upon returning from the bathroom where mom logistically placed the Boy's Body Book.
"What's that book in the bathroom?"
me: "It's to help you understand puberty. Why you'll wake up one day with a mustache and an uncontrollable need to kiss a random girl."
boy: "UGHHHH! No way." As he pulls his blankets over his head.
my thoughts *phew, at least not for quite a while yet!*

Oldest bought herself some racketballs (to drive me crazy by bouncing them in the house). As we were leaving my mom's last night, I asked if anyone was driving home with dad. (we had 2 cars because he and boy went to a spring training game earlier) Oldest looked at me and in a deadpan voice replied, "Me. I am taking my balls and going home."