Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Toast Thief

A couple of weeks ago my husband and I were away celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary.  On our first morning, we decided to partake in the hotel's breakfast buffet.  It appeared to be a decent spread and, most importantly, there was a good-sized staff working hard to keep everything replenished and fresh.  

My husband put a piece of bread in the toaster, grabbed a cup of coffee, and sat down to wait while his toast, well, toasted.  He heard the tell tale, "Pop" and went to check it. Not being exactly how he likes it, he put in back in to toast for a bit longer.  Sensing that it was done, he grabbed a plate and went to retrieve it.  In front of him stood a boy who appeared to be about 6 years old.  My husband, anticipating the toast popping out of the toaster, began to reach out his hand…but he wasn't quite fast enough!  For just as his hand was about to connect with the toast, the little boy in front of him snatched it!  

My husband returns to our table and jokes, "That little punk over there stole my toast."  He relayed the "toast thief" story to me and we shared a good chuckle.  And then we decided to watch the boy.  Because that's what happens when you've been married so long.  Your idea of entertainment involves the buffet habits of a 6-year old!

So we're watching the kid…and on his plate, along with my husband's toast, are a couple of pieces of fruit.  A nice breakfast choice that his parents would certainly be proud of.  Except, of course, his parents were nowhere to be seen. My guess is they were probably hiding from him so that he wouldn't steal their food, too!

Anyway…on top of my husband's toast, and the fruit, the boy proceeds to pile on a muffin AND a croissant.  We both look at each other and instantly know that we are thinking the exact same thing, "Ain't no way that kid's eating all that food."  The kid then goes to sit down next to his sister…but instead of sitting down to eat his enormous pile of food, he sets his plate down, STANDS UP, and heads over to the cereal counter, where he pours himself a Mt. Whitney-sized mountain of Froot Loops!  Meanwhile, my husband's once perfect, now soggy and buried, piece of toast sits just a few feet away from us, taunting my husband.  

The boy FINALLY sits down to eat.  He's eating so slowly that I swear he's eating that bowl of cereal one loop at a time.  Before he finished the cereal, which, at the rate he was going would have certainly taken him until lunch, and way before he began to tackle the croissant, the muffin, my husband's piece of toast, AND the fruit, my husband and I, having finished our meal (and feeling that holding in the magnitude of laughter we were currently stifling could, in fact, be hazardous to our health) took one final look at the boy's plate, exited the dining area, and laughed all the way back to our room! 

Here's the deal, I actually felt kind of sorry for that kid. My husband is an amazing cook who can make even a simple thing like toast taste out of this world.  And, really, I should have thanked him…because, after all, he did give us a great laugh AND a good story to tell, and, well, what's better than that?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

You. Naked.

My family and I recently enjoyed an incredible adventure in Costa Rica.  We were on one of those tours and our hotel rooms were all based on double occupancy.  We couldn't imagine that our 17-year old son and 15-year old daughter would want to share a room, so the boys roomed together and we girls did the same.  It was all going swimmingly…and then, near the end of the trip, this little exchange occurred:

As I'm getting dressed one day, my daughter says, with pure exasperation, "I don't know how dad stands it."

Now, I will admit I'm not the easiest person to share a bathroom with, so I thought she was referring to something along those lines.  Turns out I was wrong…very, very wrong.

When I inquired, "You don't know how dad stands what?" she replied, "You. Naked." 

I didn't have to guts to tell her that not only did her father "stand me naked" he actually liked it…very, very much.  And I really didn't have the guts to say the very first thing that came to my mind, which was, "Take a good, long look sister…this is your future!" 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Ha, Ha, Ha, Son, Real Funny

So I started taking my running a little more seriously this year, and by this year I mean 2012 (hey, I'm a teacher, so "this year" could also mean "since last August" right, and, you know, I like to be real clear-like when it comes to important stuff like this).  

So I'm trying to become a better runner…I even joined a running group, and I'm trying very hard to get in four runs per week.  So far I've been successful.  I'm feeling pretty good about myself…making the commitment and all, and also getting a wee bit faster.  Yay, me!

I have a 10K coming up and so I emailed the amazing leader of our running group and asked him what he recommended I do, running-wise, the week before the race.  His suggestion for the Sunday run was, "5 miles easy, with five 30-second strides after the run, resting for one minute between each stride."  

We do strides as part of our weekly track workout, so I know what they look like in that environment, but I wasn't quite sure what they would look like doing them on my own (and after a long run - we have always done them at the beginning of our track workouts, never at the end).  Since I'd never done strides after a run, and since I'm more than a little, um, OCD, I wanted to be sure I did them right.  

My son runs for his school's cross country team and so I asked him for clarification.

Me:  "Um, son, I need to do these strides, but I'm kind of confused because I usually do them before a run, not after.  So do I, you know, cool down first, after my run, and then do the strides, or do I, just, like, do them right away, with no cool down?"

Him:  "Um, mom, you know, the pace you run is pretty much a cool down, so, you know, you don't really need to worry about doing an actual cool down after your run, since your entire run will, um, be a cool down.  You know, you'll already be running a cool down, so, you know, you, like, don't have to do another cool down."

(Seriously?!  I swear to gawd if he had said "cool down" one more time with that smug, self righteous look on his face, I would have smacked him!  Well, you know, not really, since he's bigger than me and all, and, since, well, you know, I don't want to go to jail and all, but, you know, you moms all know what I'm talking about, right?)

"Your run is a cool down."  Ha!  Real funny, son, real funny…punk!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Funny Thing 1 and Funny Thing 2

Dr. Seuss's birthday was the other day.  (I'm sure you already knew that.  And, for the record, can I just say how much I love that man!)  He would have been 108 this year, but age, for someone like the beloved Dr. Seuss, is truly irrelevant.  His stories, and his legacy, will live forever. 

I love him just as much today as I did when I was a little girl.  (Psst, here's a little secret:  The real reason I became a teacher of the little ones is so I could read Dr. Seuss books year after year after year.)  I can't even express to you how much I look forward to reading his books to my students, not just on March 2, but all throughout the year. (When I am old and gray and in a nursing home, it is my sincere hope that someone will visit me every March 2 and read my two all-time favorites, Yertle the Turtle and Gertrude McFuzz…I promise I won't fall asleep in my soup…or, well, I'll try not to!)

This really wasn't supposed to be a mushy, gushy ode to Dr. Seuss, but I just can't help myself!  I really did have a point when I sat down to type this little story, um, 30 minutes ago! And that point, my friends, was to share with you two funny things that happened this March 2.  In honor of Dr. Seuss, I'm calling them Funny Thing 1 and Funny Thing 2. 

Funny Thing 1:  On Dr. Seuss's birthday last Friday, there was a sprinkling of First Graders who dressed up as various Dr. Seuss characters.  On the playground I spied Thing 1 and Thing 2, Sam I Am, and one of my cutie pies was wearing a beautiful, full-on, Cat in the Hat costume.  One little boy had on your basic, run-of-the-mill black jogging suit.  Upon seeing the other kids dressed up,  he looked at them, he looked at me, he looked down at his black jogging suit, he looked back up at me, and he said, "I dressed up as a black man today."  This kid is as white as white can be, but, hey, he's got a black jacket on, he's got black pants on, and, like most First Graders, he doesn't want to be left out of any fun goings on, so, well, he's a black man!  And, really, why not? 

Funny Thing 2:  Later that morning, as I held up the first Dr. Seuss book that I was going to read, The Cat in the Hat, a student very excitedly shouted out, "I like it teacher style."  Teacher style? Oh, my, do I dare ask?  You know me though, curiosity always trumps common sense, and so I said, "Teacher style?  What do you mean?"  

"You know," she said, "when the teacher reads the book."  

Oh, whew!  You can imagine how very relieved I was to learn that she was talking about reading!  And, of course, I think she's absolutely right:  Dr. Seuss is way better "teacher style."

So that's my story, and now it's done, and I really, really hope you had fun!  

And if you'll just indulge me for one more minute, I'll leave you with two of my favorite Dr. Seuss quotes. 

Favorite Quote 1:  "Don't cry because it's over.  Smile because it happened."

Favorite Quote 2:  "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Taxes, I Didn't Hear Nothin' 'Bout No Taxes

About nine-hunerd-leven times a day (that's First Grade speak for, like, a lot) some kid busts out with something random.  (One of my little sweetie pies has now started prefacing her random tangents with, "I know this doesn't have anything to do with anything we are talking about right now, but…." Love her!)  Anyway…

The other day we're in the middle of something - don't ask me what - we're always in the middle of something, now aren't we?  So we're in the middle of something and a kid raises his hand and says, "I'm going to my papa's house tonight at 6:00."  (If there's one thing I've learned from teaching it's that, to get to the funny, you have to ask the oh, so important, "Why?"  And so I did:

"How come you're going to your papa's house today at 6:00?" 

"Well," he said, "That's because my mom and dad have to go pay their taxes."  

Ah, I thought to myself, an appointment with their accountant, lucky them.  

"How fun for you," I said, "to get to spend some time with your grandpa."  

"Yeah," he said, "I'm gonna be there for 10 hours!"

"Wow!" I replied.  "Ten hours.  That's a long time.  How come you're going to be there for 10 hours."

"Well," he said, "that's because my mom and dad have to pay a LOT of taxes."

I try hard not to LOL, and he continues, "Yeah, my mom hasn't been paying her taxes, so now they have, like, two taxes to pay."

At this point I've heard all I want to hear as I picture myself in a courtroom being grilled by a judge, "Mrs. So-and-So, on the afternoon of February 23, 2012, did little Johnny here tell you his mom hadn't been paying her taxes?"

"Er, um," I would reply, "Paying her taxes? Um, no, I think he said, 'Snack-ses,' not 'taxes.' You see, First Graders often have trouble with word endings, so I'm sure he said his mom hadn't been 'packing his snack-ses' and NOT 'not paying her taxes.' No, I'm certain I didn't hear nothin' 'bout no taxes not being paid, no sirree, I'm positive he said 'snack-ses', I'm sure of it in fact."

The judge would look down at me from behind his spectacles and give me a look that would let me know he clearly knows I'm full of it. I would then raise my hand and say, "Tomorrow's my cousin's birthday!"  He would roll his eyes, pound his gavel, and declare, "Case dismissed!" 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Now That Was Unexpected

So here's something you don't ever expect to come out of the mouth of a 6-year old boy…

We were walking back from the post office today, on what was a bright, sunny day, and one of my little darling boys looks at me and says, "Teacher, I'm hot.  I'm wearing black underwear and I'm really, really hot."

Er, um, well…am I on Candid Camera…again?!

(And while we're on the subject of clothes and, well, heat...the other day we were walking to the computer lab and another one of my darling little boys tugs at his very fancy sweater vest and says, "I'm hot. My mom doesn't care about me being hot...she just cares about me looking nice.")

One of the best things about working with kids, folks?  They truly have no idea just how funny they are.  

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Criss Cross

So I've got this kid in my class and he's pretty much "That Kid."  Luckily for him, I actually have two "That Kids" in my class this year.  (I secretly call them Frick and Frack because together they are hilarious.)  Frustrating?  You betcha'.  Inappropriate?  For sure.  But very, very funny nonetheless.

You know, they're the kids (and I'll just come right out and say they're boys), but they're the kids who, when walking up to the lunch line, decide that that's a good time to compare each other boobies!  Seriously, they had the necks of their shirts stretched down practically to their waists and they were discussing their bobbies…in the lunch line…for all the world to see…and hear.  Oye vay!

The first kid I mentioned, let's call him Frick, is probably the more "That kid" of the two.  If there's any mischief going on, you better believe he's the one that started it.  He'll probably grow up to be his generation's Jim Carrey, but for now he's quite the handful.  Cute kid, and totally lovable, but my, oh my, is that kid ever a challenge!

Lucky for me, though, every now and then the "teacher gods" shine down upon us and we extract our little teacher revenge without even lifting a finger.  Like the other day…we were outside with our jump ropes having a grand old time.  We always start in a circle, do a few jumps/exercises together, and then I let the kids have some free time to jump while I work with some kids who, bless their hearts, can't seem to turn the rope even one time without getting themselves all tangled up in it.  

So the kids are doing their "free jumping" time and a lot of the girls are doing "criss cross."  If you haven't been on a school yard in a while, maybe since you were actually in school yourself, "criss cross" is when you cross the rope in front of you and jump over it.  It's a fun trick to master and I have quite a few kids who are already quite adept at criss cross. 

My little friend calls me over and says, "Look, I can do criss cross."  He then proceeds to cross his FEET.  He then takes a huge jump and lands, you guessed it, flat on his bum!  (As painful as it might sound, he was not, in fact, one bit hurt.  I would not be writing about it if he were hurt.  Seeing a kid in pain, even the kid who makes you the most looney, is not one bit funny.  But I swear that kid is made of rubber….you should see the stunts he walks away from with nothing more than dust on his hands.)  But the shocked look on his face…priceless!  

I looked up toward the heavens, smiled at my teacher god, helped my friend up, and proceeded to show him how to do a real criss cross.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Playing Cards on a Tuesday Just Because

10:45 on a Tuesday.  We’re leaving the computer lab and a student asks, “Is it time to go home yet?”  Now, at the beginning of the year, I get asked that question, literally, all day long.  But it’s January now.  Our daily routine is well established and the kids know, for better or for worse, they’re stuck with me until 2:35 each and every day.  (Don’t get me wrong, they’re still 6-year olds, and I do still occasionally get the “Is it time to go home yet?” question, but it’s typically toward the end of the day, not the beginning.)

I looked at the student who asked me this, giggled politely, and said, “Buddy, we haven’t even had lunch yet.  Sorry, but it’s not time to go home.”  He sighed the sigh of a weary 6-year old, smiled, and waited as the rest of his classmates lined up behind him to go back to class.  While we were waiting, I inquired, “Are you tired, or do you just want to go home?”  He looked at me, and with complete and total sincerity said, “I just want to go home.” 

I like to think of myself as being pretty entertaining, well to 6-year olds at least, so when one of my students wants to go home early, well, I want to know why, and so I asked  him. He smiled and replied, “Well, I want it to be time to go home because my mom said she’d play a card game with me today after school.”  Ah, ha.  So it’s not that he wants to leave me; it’s that he wants to spend time with his mom.  Fair enough.  Actually, more than fair enough.  And for the record, I don’t blame him one single bit.  In fact, it’s moments like this that make me love my job as a First Grade teacher so much. 

I love that this kid can't wait to go home and play cards with his mom.  It’s a small thing, isn’t it? A simple, little card game.  But to a child it can be the highlight of a day and something to look forward to all day long.  In a way, I’m envious.  I have teenagers now, and I must confess to being more than a little bit jealous of the mom who gets to spend time today playing cards with her little boy.  I’m also envious of the child, who is ticking off the moments of his school day so he can get home to his mom and play cards.   

More than anything else, though, I’m excited.  I’m excited that, amid all of our modern technology, there are kids out there who still enjoy the simple things.  I’m excited that, amid all of our modern technology, there are moms out there who still enjoy doing these simple things with their children.  And, most of all, I’m excited to hear all about this little boy’s special time with his mom tomorrow because, almost as fun as the event itself, First Graders love sharing their adventures, both large and small, and so I know that during our Share Out time tomorrow, his hand will go up and he’ll tell us all about the fun he had playing cards with his mom.  I can’t wait! 

It's moments like this that make me stop and remember how important it is that we parents never underestimate these simple times with our kids.  It seems the world is spinning faster and faster these days; we're all in a rush and sometimes it's all we can do to keep up with the bare necessities, like making sure everyone is fed and clothed.  Who has time for games?  

Well, we all should.  Because guess what, folks?  Blink, and your kids are standing in line waiting to take their driver's tests, or they're walking out the door for a  babysitting gig, or they're off to see an R-rated movie because, well, they are now old enough to do so.  

I forget a lot these days, just ask my poor husband.  But I will never, ever, ever forget the time, a few years back, when the father of one of my students just randomly showed up one day to have lunch with his child.  The look on that little boy's face was one of pure joy and wonder.  The term "over the moon" comes to mind, though in reality, his expression was even beyond over the moon.  Way beyond.  The way he proudly walked with his dad to the lunch line is a moment I will cherish forever.  

I had tears in my eyes as I walked back to my room and I thought, "This is what it's all about."  It's not about fancy trips (though those are nice) and it's not about buying our kids the latest, greatest gadgets (though those are fun).  No, it's about creating these small moments with our children, moments that, when placed one on top of another, day after day and year after year, form the foundation of a blessed childhood. 

So let me ask you, what are you doing next Tuesday after school? Because if it's not playing cards with your kids just because, well, it should be.  

Friday, January 27, 2012

Found Money

I've said it before and I'll say it again…one of the best parts of my day is reading what the kids have written, be it in their journals or for a formal writing assignment.  Buried in the pile of papers is always a gem or two that makes me LOL.

The other day, our writing center prompt was "Write about what you would do if you found $5.00 on the way to school."  Interesting to note (and I'm still not sure quite how I feel about it) is the fact that not a single student said that he'd try to find the owner of the money.  Perhaps expecting altruism from a  6-year old is a bit of a stretch.  Oh well…

I am pleased to report, though, that most of my students understood that $5.00 isn't a whole lot of money, and what they wrote about corresponded to that understanding.  Some of the kids said they'd spend their found money on ice-cream, some said toys, and yet others said they'd save it.  One girl said she'd give $3.00 to her dad and keep $2.00 for herself.  Of course, when my husband heard about that one he said, "Can we adopt her?" 

A couple of girls wrote about how they'd buy their little brothers a toy, which I thought was very sweet.  One of those girls, however, said she'd buy her brother a Lego and then herself a skirt.  (Clearly, she's not one of the students mentioned above who understands the value of a dollar, because even though she said she'd buy the items at Target, even on sale she'd never be able to buy both things!  Oh well, the sentiment was there and that's all that really matters, right?)

My all-time favorite from this $5.00 prompt was:

"If I found $5.00 I would save it and yous it for colij. Then I can go to colij so I can lrn.  And maby be a techr.  I houp I fyd $5.00 in rell lif."  Not surprising, my husband wanted to adopt this student, too!  Let's see…how much interest would she have to earn to turn that $5.00 into college tuition in 12 years?  Oh brother, don't ask me…one of the main reasons I teach First Grade is that I am only required to count up to 100!

So, friends, what would you do if you found $5.00 on the way to work?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Brotherly Love

Lunch line conversations are the best!  The lunch lady often comments how nice she thinks it is that I stay with my class, but really, my motives are purely selfish…some of my best material comes from the lunch line.  Lunch line topics are quite varied, but one of the kids' favorites is bad words.  (There's something to be said for working with a segment of the population for whom "stupid" and "shut up" are bad words.  Too bad most adults don't agree.)  Anyway…

We're in the lunch line the other day and the kids start talking about bad words and one kid says, "We have a jar at our house, and anytime someone says a bad word they have to put money in the jar."  Ah, the old swear jar.  I smile and he continues, "But my grandpa says a lot of bad words and he never puts any money in the jar."  

"Oh goodness," I say, "Grandpa says a lot of bad words, huh?"  

"Yeah," he replies, "but only when he's on the phone."  

In my mind I'm cheering grandpa for giving those pesky telemarketers the what-for, when he continues, "He says a lot of bad words when he talks to his brother."

Hee, hee, hee.  Man, I love my job!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Pencil Pilferer

Pencils…they can be the bane of any teacher's existence.  Long ago, I decided I would not be the pencil police.  Instead, I have a very simple "Pencil Policy."  On the first day of school, each child is given a brand-new, perfectly-sharpened pencil.  Once the lead of that pencil becomes dull, or once the lead of that pencil breaks (or once a student pulls the lead of that pencil out - sometimes on purpose, sometimes not) that student is required to take the "old" pencil, walk it over to the "To Be Sharpened" container, place the pencil, led side down, into the container, and then pick up a new pencil from the "Freshly Sharpened" container.  Easy, peasy, right?  For some kids, yes; for others, no.

I'm a stickler for making the kids bring their old pencil because, guess what?  A kid will drop a pencil, make no attempt to look for it, and then get up and get a new pencil, and then before you know it, we're all out of pencils!  (I can't tell you how many times I will hear the tell-tale ping of a dropped pencil, watch it roll two chairs over, and for the kid who dropped it, it literally doesn't exist anymore.  He'll shout out, "I don't have a pencil."  My response is always the same, "Well, kid, you had one, like, two seconds ago, what happened?"  And the kid will be like, "I don't know."  And truly, he doesn't know because it doesn't even occur to him (or her) to check the floor.  Cracks me up…and frustrates me to no end sometimes.)

So, if I see a kid walking over to the pencil cans with no pencil, I'm all over it, "Hey, where's your pencil?"  "Um, I don't know.  I don't have one."  "Well, you're not getting a new one until you find the old one so I suggest you find it…pronto."  (I know, I know, so much for not being the pencil police.)  One quick glance to the floor typically reveals that this child's pencil is underneath his seat partner's chair.  I'll tell the student this and I swear he'll look at his seat partner like he had something to do with it.  

If you haven't figured it out by now, and I'm sure you have, the pencil policy exists so that we always have 23 pencils.  Occasionally, I'll throw a pencil away, like when it's been chewed to within inches of its life, or when it becomes too short from too much sharpening.  And every now and then, really and truly, a pencil does just disappear.  But, for the most part, we always have a pretty healthy supply, thanks to my handy-dandy, easy-to-follow pencil policy.

And then one day, we didn't have such a healthy supply anymore.  I puzzled over it a bit, but then quickly blew it off because, despite the fact that I am devoting an entire blog post to this (and my first one of the new year, at that) I really am far too busy to spend too much time on disappearing pencils.  So I let it go…

Until one day when another class is in my room (we do weekly rotations with the class next door) and a student from this other class reaches into the desk she is sitting at to get a pencil and exclaims, "Oh my gosh, whose desk is this?  Look at all these pencils!"  I walk over and, oh my gosh, it appears I have a pencil hoarder in my class!  Seriously, in all my years, I have never seen this many pencils in one kid's desk.  Occasionally, a kid will have two, maybe three, but this kid had, like, 20 pencils, at least.  And I'm not exaggerating!  (All those times I saw that kid out of her desk now made perfect sense!)

Now I have to figure out how to handle this.  Clearly, I want her to understand that she is in, like, major violation of the pencil policy; however, I don't want to embarrass her in front of everyone by calling her out.  So when we finish our rotations and my class is back in their seats and working away, I quietly go over to her desk, take her basket out, point to the plethora of pencils, give her the teacher look, and point to the pencil cans on the other side of the room (as in, you better return all those pencils missy).  Thankfully, she gets the message loud and clear.  Only here's the deal…she has hoarded so many pencils that her little hands can't manage the load and she has to make two trips!  When she returns from returning all those pencils, I quietly remind her of our pencil policy…and make a mental note to keep a better eye on that little pencil pilferer!