Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Is there a better sound than the 1-Up noise in Mario?

Sitting down to the computer to write just now is like that moment your butt hits the couch after a 12 hour day and you feel your cells all go aahhhhhhhh.... Feels like it's been forever since I've been able to write anything (and I don't mean a 14 page report for school). I'm back.

Here's a purely fictional tale: in no way real-life account of anything real. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Jimmy* is bane to my existence as a teacher. He could be a likable kid, but he gets in his own way most days. He lies, he steals things from the other kids, and he can't seem to make it through one 50 minute period without throwing things or blurting things out like "that's a lie!" or "nuh-uh!" Occasionally he insults the mothers of gang members in class who outweigh him and it doesn't occur to him that it's not a wise choice. He can't sit in his seat for the entire period. He's malicious and attention-seeking. He honestly believes that if someone wrongs him, he's justified to act out as he sees fit. Of course this means the other kids push his buttons just to watch him explode. Some days he's tolerable; frequently he's insufferable.

*not real

Yesterday Jimmy and his buddy, who I like to call "The 12-Percenter" on account of the amount of total points he earned last semester, decided that they'd blow up and throw balloons across the classroom at any chance they got. I could tell that part of the fun was trying to get a rise out of me, so I calmly put my foot down and asked if all balloons could please find their way into the garbage can. Such triviality is the stuff of my profession (and coincidentally, that of a preschool teacher). Once all balloons had been removed, I started to get the students set up to do that day's lesson. Lo and behold, but as I was teaching more balloons appeared with all the stealth and subtlety of a semi truck. Since I'd seen who had them, I knew where fault lay. With a warning, I moved on.

Yea, though I walked through the shadow of the valley of Freshman English, the balloons continued to be with me. It wasn't that I was angry about balloons, per se, just the repeated annoyance of having to ask that they not be flying across the room as I was teaching. I sent The 12-Percenter outside, because even though it was only the first day of the new semester, the gleam in his eye told me he hadn't had any sort of epiphany about the necessity of a high school education since he left me two weeks ago. His mission is clear: do nothing, and help as many others do nothing as possible. Jimmy was a little bit different. I decided (also due in part to the fact that you can't send two of them outside together) to give him another chance and let him stay in class. More balloons. I looked over and he had them trailing out of his pockets and backpack like a candy-colored latex waterfall. I ordered him to bring me his backpack.

Meanwhile, The 12-Percenter couldn't manage to keep his entire self outside. His incessant need to be watched, to seek out an audience, meant that he'd stick his head or various other body parts back inside the door every three minutes. His pockets runneth over as well. I had enough. Both of them were to bring me their backpacks this instant.

The 12-Percenter was harmless: his backpack contained balloons and only balloons (I'm guessing he stole about a pound of them from McDonalds that day), so I sent him back out. Jimmy was another story. He brought his backpack reluctantly to my desk, protesting all the way "I don't have anymore. I swear!" Still thinking this was just ridiculous, I asked him to set it on my desk where I could see it. The black backpack contrasted nicely with the rainbow of balloonage that was still trailing everywhere. Instead of compliance, as I'd hoped for, he scooted over with red cheeks and set his backpack down behind my desk, out of sight. RED FLAG #1. As I asked him again to put it up where I could see it, there was massive rummaging and some very unimpressive slight-of-hand attempts. His backpack appeared on my desk, but something else was still in his hand inside his sweatshirt.

"What's in your hand?"


"Then why are you hiding it?"

Pause. "I don't want to show you." RED FLAG #2.

Furrowing of brow. "Really."

"IT'S NOT MINE. I WAS JUST HOLDING IT FOR SOMEBODY!" RED FLAG #3. DANGER DANGER. ALERT. ALERT. (Does that line ever work on anyone? It certainly doesn't work on me.)

"Let me see it."

"No. There's nothing in my hand."

(Mom voice:) "Let me see it... now."

Whaddya know? In his hand was a nice lil' can of chew. Gerrrrrrrooooosssss. I wasn't really expecting chew... just more balloons. Chew means paperwork. Chew means I wasn't going to get anything else done that period because I had to contact security. Chew means I couldn't just handle it myself. I guess It could have been much worse, though. I'm glad the kid didn't have anything more substantial than a can of chew in his bag, but holy sheets, that was a crazy class.

Wasn't that a nice fictional story? Good thing nothing like that ever happend to me. Especially, like, yesterday, when it was my first day back teaching after the winter break.

So let's talk about things that did happen yesterday, mmmkay? *wink* E started his new full time job. I kicked my own patoot doing 4 miles on the treadmill at five A.M. FIVE IN THE A.M... for the love of Mike! We ate breakfast as a family. I managed to get all four of us out of the house with packed lunches before 7:30. Our kids were CLEAN. Henry and I met his new babysitter and she's completely normal and awesome. Grandma and Grandpa's new puppy met us and he thought we were awesome. We worked hard and we learned hard. We had hope about being able to afford all our bills and our grocery bill next month. I fell into bed at 8:30 and was asleep by 9:00.

Today was a much better day of teaching and it seemed to go by pretty quickly. I got a nice surprise this afternoon in the form of a Christmas present that finds its way to me every year. I always seem to forget until the next year, and then I'll get a white envelope addressed to me in my teachers' mailbox that contains this:

It's a pencil from my FIRST GRADE teacher that says "Merry Christmas from Mr. Helms" (and Mrs. Martin--his teaching partner). Every year he sends it to me in my box at school, even though I was a first-grader in his class about 24 years ago. Isn't that cool?

I'm currently snuggled under a quilt on my bed watching Henry play Super Mario Brothers Wii. I love the 1-Up noise. It's the audible expression of exactly what it feels like to be having lazy time right now.


  1. New puppy? What new puppy?

  2. Your teaching stories crack me up. (And make me question my plan to go back and get my credential...) ;)

  3. The pencil from your first grade teacher made me sigh outloud. I love people like this.

  4. @April--Gma and Gpa got a new scottie dog. They had to put Laddie to sleep. :( VERY sad. He was not looking well on Christmas. The new pup is only seven weeks old. He's so small he doesn't even look real.

    @Tracy--just stay away from Freshmen and you'll be fine.

    @Heidi--I know, right? Such a wonderful little thing. :)