The Red Candy Cane

Little Man’s Christmas program was tonight. I was mistaken–he wasn’t a green candy cane. He was a red candy cane. Call your kid the wrong color candy cane and you’ll get corrected pretty damn quick (and not with much Christmas spirit, either).

A little backstory…

While my son has a lot of teachers he likes, he’s not a fan of the teacher that coordinated everything for the program. “I can’t stand her. She screams all the time! I’m like ‘lord, can’t you just use your inside voice?'” LM told a week after starting the school in first grade.

Sam asked the school principal about her shortly thereafter, and he assured him and LM that the teacher wasn’t yelling at him. “She just has a super loud voice,” he said. We witnessed the voice first hand at the fun run. I had just walked up with Baby Girl and this booming voice yelled out, “HEY YOU! YOU DOING FRUIT OR WATER?”

I looked around and saw this slight, older woman on a cane coming towards me. “SO? YOU DOING FRUIT OR WATER?”

I gave her a dirty look. Why the fuck was she yelling at me? At that moment, she turned around and yelled at the principal. “YOU NEED TO PUT THOSE SPEAKERS OVER THERE.” He was ten feet away. Then I realized that she was the teacher LM had been talking about. Good god. If her voice hurt the ears of someone who has sucky hearing, I can only imagine how it must really bother LM, who has very sensitive hearing. My husband said she reminded him of Sergeant Carter from Gomer Pyle.

Here’s a video in case you’re like me and don’t know who that is.

So, as I said, this woman was in charge of the Christmas Program. They started practicing a couple months ago.

“Mom, Mrs. P said that everyone has to come to the program,” Little Man told me a couple weeks after they started practicing. “Everyone. She said she doesn’t care if they’ve been sick with the flu for a week, they better be at this program that we’re working so hard on.”

“Oh, really?”

“Yeah…she can’t do that, right? If I’m sick, she can’t make me go…right?” It’s not that he was looking for an out–he was legit concerned about this.

I shook my head. “I’m your mom. If you’re sick, you stay home, period. But let’s not worry about that.”

“Well, she said…”

“She probably just told the kids they all have to show up and someone started the What Ifs. She can’t make a sick child come.”

Little Man smiled. “Good, I’m gonna tell her that.”

“Please don’t.”

Fast forward to last night. Mrs. P had sent home a list of what everyone was supposed to wear, so Sam and I were double checking to make sure there wasn’t anything I needed to pick up when I went shopping.

So, what does one require to transform into a green red candy cane?

“He needs a white long-sleeve t-shirt and khaki shorts–the school will supply the rest,” I told my husband.

“Shorts?”

“Shorts. It says they’ll have red knee socks to wear, too.”

“But it’s December.”

I sighed. “I know. But are you going to argue with Mrs. P over this?”

He sighed. “Well, we could just send him in khaki pants. What’s she gonna do?”

“Probably grab a pair of scissors and cut them off at the knee?” That’s really not much of an exaggeration. She threatened to make LM sit out of their version of PE because he didn’t have the right sneakers. She even amended her rubric type thing this year to exclude his Converse shoes.

“What about the shirt?” Sam asked.

“Well…LM has an off-white long-sleeve thermal and an off-white pullover.”

We both looked at each other.

“So I’ll just go to Walmart tomorrow and grab a plain white long sleeve t-shirt,” I said.

Illness? Hypothermia? Spending extra money on a shirt LM doesn’t really need? Whatever, we’ll risk it instead of facing Mrs. P’s wrath.

You’re probably wondering how the program went by now. Well, there was a mini crisis when I forgot to bring LM’s khaki shorts — those oh-so-fucking-important shorts that we likely wouldn’t be able to quickly replace since, ya know, it’s almost winter. We had to rush to Walmart (didn’t have time to go back home) and found the last pair that was sorta his size–an 8 husky. When I say “sorta,” I mean “my son could wear a 6 in the waist (but not length-wise) and it was a Christmas miracle that the belt held these things up.” The funny thing was that half the kids were wearing the exact same shorts with the crease, so we weren’t the only ones who had to make a WM run.

Now for the program–it went very well. Little Man did wonderful in his job as a red candy cane. He sang the songs and did the little dances and did the Anxious name proud!

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Y’all Eat Squirrels? (Play The Lie Game!)

I realized tonight that the class of eighth graders I taught will be graduating from college in the coming weeks. Damn, I’m old. That prompted a little more thinking, which took me back to my first day of teaching.

My first class consisted of 14 sixth graders at a brand new school. I was nervous as hell on that first day. I hoped that my fear didn’t show too much, because we were warned in a couple of college classes how important that first impression was. This is where you’ll hook them in and let them know who’s boss, or lose them. 

Well, it wasn’t quite that serious. Most of the kids appeared to be just as nervous as I was. They were leaving the safe confines of their elementary schools and mixing in with kids they didn’t know from other schools to form one of my three sixth grade English/Language Arts classes at a new charter school.

They were scared enough, and it was written all over their faces just as it was mine, I’m sure. So why bother with scare tactics?

Once everyone was seated and the clock struck 7:30, I introduced myself. Hi, I’m Mrs. E, and I’ll be your ELA teacher for the year…if you don’t run me off first. 

That got a chuckle out of them. The ice melted slightly.

Let’s get to know each other. We’ll play the Lie Game. I’m going to tell you three things about myself. Two of those things will be true, and the third is a lie. You have to guess which one is the lie, and then you’ll each take turns doing the same. 

We sat down in a circle on the carpet up front, where we would later spend a lot of time reading through the stories for that day, having our discussions, and going through a chapter of Wayside School is Falling Down when time would allow. (FYI: older kids love being read to, just the same as little kids.)

I gave them my three statements:

  • I played softball in college.
  • I once caught a homerun baseball at a Braves game and about broke my hand in the process.
  • I went to every Gamecocks football game last year.

The first one was the lie, but most of them thought the second one was. When I fessed up, I instantly became the coolest teacher in the world because I caught a game ball, which I had to promise to bring in to show off (and I did).

The kids took their turns, and some of them came up with very clever lies. One boy gave a statement that I thought for sure was a lie, but I was wrong.

“I have at least 20 dead squirrels in my freezer.”

I laughed at that. When he revealed that it was true, I chuckled again, thinking he was kidding around with me.

“No, Mrs. E, I really do have that many squirrels in my freezer. I shot them myself. You don’t eat squirrel?”

Seriously? Now, I grew up in a very rural area, but the only thing my dad ever shot was a deer. I heard stories of how he had eaten rabbit meat when he was younger, but he never mentioned squirrel.

“Um…no,” I said, still uncertain. I looked around at the faces of the other kids. They definitely didn’t take this squirrel eating thing as a joke. I’m pretty sure I was looking at them like they were little aliens and they were definitely looking at me like I was one.

“Y’all really eat squirrels?” I asked. Several of them nodded and began talking about what they had shot and what they had in their freezer.

The boy who had delivered the not-a-lie statement spoke up. “You really ain’t never ate a squirrel, Mrs. E? Where are you from, again?”

From the sticks, I thought, but I kept that to myself.

“No, but I’ve always been a picky eater,” I told him. This was not a lie. Amazingly, I am very picky. If it has the wrong look, smell, or texture, I’ll gag and act like I’m dying. Too bad that sweets don’t fit any of those requirements.

“Squirrel meat is great! You’ve gotta try it. I’ll bring you one from my freezer tomorrow. You can keep it in your fridge to take home with you.”

Damn, what a sweet kid. I politely declined, unsure how I would cook a squirrel, and very unsure about the possibility of actually eating it.

After that, the other kids went through their statements, we shared some more laughs, and then while we were on the rug, I went over what was expected of them throughout the year, how often homework would be assigned, discipline, etc.

This class was great, as were my other two sixth grade classes. If I ever go back to teaching English, I know that sixth grade would be my grade of choice. It’s such a nice bridge between elementary school and the teen years, so you get the best of both worlds.

I told my husband about the squirrel later that evening.

“Did you tell him you’d take one?” he asked when I got to that part of my story.

“What? No.”

“Why not? I love squirrel meat.”

Oh, by the way, when I talked to this boy’s mom during a parent-teacher conference, she mentioned how her son came home laughing because his English teacher had never heard of anyone eating squirrel meat before. She was just as amused as he was and also offered to bring me some if I changed my mind about trying it. I didn’t.

—————————

Want to play the Lie Game? 

I’ll start: 

  • The northernmost state that I’ve traveled to is North Carolina. 
  • I turned down an opportunity to be in a movie. 
  • I make amazing special brownies. 

Guess the lie in the comments section and add your own three statement (two true, one false). 

How to Answer a Writing Prompt

In the folder Little Man brought home yesterday, there was worksheet where he had written down his answer to the following writing prompt.

Pretend you live in a snow globe. What would you do?

If I lived in a snow globe, I would see snow. And I would die because you can’t breathe in a snow globe. I would also starve. But then I would wake up and say oh man because it was all just a bad dream.

Being a first grade teacher can’t be easy, but I doubt it gets boring.

Science Projects and Procrastination Don’t Mix

Little Man had the option of participating in the science fair at his school this year. Even though first graders don’t get to participate in the district-wide fair (assuming he places), he was very excited about it since he loves science.

LM told me he wanted to do his project on magnets a couple weeks ago after reading a book at school. His idea was to see if he could make other metal objects magnetic using a magnet. He got several different objects and rubbed them on a large magnet he has, and then tried to pick up part of a broken paperclip with the newly magnetized object. He was successful with a few things, too.

I had planned to help him put his poster together on Sunday or Monday since it’s due tomorrow (technically today), but that didn’t happen, and we had to do it this evening.

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Lesson Learned As A Teacher: Always Check for Porn

I spent one year teaching English to middle school kids before I left to become a SAHM. That probably goes down as one of the shortest teaching careers on record, but despite that, I learned something that is pretty invaluable to all teacher and aspiring teachers everywhere: always check for porn.

Yes, porn.

I don’t care what grade you teach, but always check anything you bring into the classroom (or anything you give your own kids) to make sure it hasn’t been, ah, contaminated.

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