Notes to Mr. Bacon

I have a blue piggy bank in my room that kids put notes in. Most teachers have some sort of mailbox like this, so kids can let you know things they might not want to face to face. I thought a piggy bank would be cute! I have regretted this decision every time I have to get notes out by cramming my fingers into the damn thing and scrabbling to get wadded up papers. A real mailbox would have been a better call.

I let my first class name the pig, since they enjoyed naming anything and everything. They picked Mr. Bacon. Yep. They named the pig Bacon. Creepy, but at least they gave him the respectful Mr.

I expected that the notes would be things like “so and so is poking me in line” or “the math is hard”. Some of them are. But the majority are just plain weird.

This was today’s:

“Kate- sometimes when you tell us we can’t go to the bathroom because we just went, I have to go again because I tried to go and it wouldn’t come out. I wanted you to know this. Sometimes it takes some tries.”

Duly noted, anonymous kid.

Other past favorites include…

“Do you eat at McDonalds? They have nasty secrets I want to tell you about. The chicken nuggets are not chicken. Who knows what they are. Never eat fast food again.” I appreciated the concern for my welfare, and assured the child in question that I rarely eat fast food. He responded by telling me that he loved Mcnuggets. Go figure.

“The world is a vampire.” Why an 8 year old in 2010 was quoting late 90s rock bands is an unsolved mystery. When asked, she said “That’s from a song?”

“Let’s get a shark for a pet. The kind that eats people.” Honest and direct about purpose, at least.

“For halloween, you should be the tooth fairy. You know why.” I didn’t know why. I still have no idea.”

“For the music in the morning, I suggest Bon Jovi.”

“Yo yo yo. My name is Joe. I came from California with my pants down low.”

Mr. Bacon has seen some things.

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S, H, I… Whoops

We play a spelling game in my room where we go around in a circle spelling each letter of a word. So to spell “desk”, the first kid says “D”, the next “E”… You get the idea. If you get a letter wrong, you sit down.

We were playing this game last week, using a list of words all third graders should know. It was mostly a review, and almost all the words were pretty easy.

We got to the word “ship”. It went perfectly. “S”… “H”… “I”… the next kid in a line, a sweet, slightly shy little girl, smiled at me and confidently said “T”.

There was a moment of dead silence, and I said “I think you meant to say P.” A collective gasp when through the circle, followed immediately by giggling. The poor kid who made the mistake went completely white, then dark red. I had to avoid looking anyone in the eye, especially the other teachers in the room. My ribs hurt from trying not to laugh. I knew if I did, she would feel awful, and all the kids would lose it.

We had pretty effectively moved on, and even started a new word, when one kid, who had had a confused look on his face up until now, suddenly said “Ohhhh…” It looked like a lightbulb went off above his head. “She spelled… she spelled… Ohhhhh.”

In an effort not to laugh, I promptly inhaled the cough drop I had in my mouth halfway up my sinuses, and distracted everyone by wheezing, hacking, and blasting everyone with mentholated breath for the next five minutes. Crisis averted. I think there’s still a cough drop in my nasal cavity, though.

When Snow Pants Attack

I hate snow pants. Not on a personal level. I appreciate an extra layer of warmth. I like that my kids don’t come in dripping after recess. But damnit, they take so long to get in and out of! The process of getting ready for recess shoots up from 2 minutes to about 15. Yes, jackets must be zipped, gloves located, boots put on, scarfs detangled and unwound from other peoples faces and necks. But it’s snow pants that take the longest. In an age of space travel, electric cars, and skyscrapers, why has humanity yet to invent a better way to keep the damn things on?

One of my kids this year has a pair that’s way too small. Like most kids, he grew quite a bit in a year. I assume that last years snow pants were taken out of storage, put in a bag, and sent to school to be put on for recess. Where we teachers discovered that they were not going to fit, no matter how much we pushed and pulled. For the morning recess, we left them unbuckled, and the poor guy waddled around the playground constantly hitching them up. For lunch recess, I figured I’d improvise. The straps wouldn’t go over his shoulders, so I buckled them under his arms. This apparently worked great, until he tightened them to the point of pain and couldn’t get them undone.

The best (or worst, depending on perspective) snow pants incident happened to one of my students a few years ago. This little guy was prone to the dramatics, and had a knack for getting himself stuck in strange situations, so I wasn’t too surprised. The rest of the class was trickling back into the room after de-eskimo-ing themselves, and one reported to me that someone was having trouble. I walked out into the hall to see my little friend lying on his back, rigid as a board, one arm in his snow pants, the other clenched at his side. Tears were leaking out of his eyes, he was bright red and breathing fast and heavy. Prompting only resulted in “I-I-I- my-my-my- these-hic-hic-hic-stupid-hic-blub-glrg-SNOW PANTS!” He was stuck. It took a substantial amount of strength, flexibility, and patience on both our parts, but eventually he was free.

And the very next day, wearing them again. If anyone out there can invent a better pair of snow pants, I have business to discuss with you.

Frozen Fun

I’m not a big fan of winter. I never have been. I was the kid who was standing off to the side talking loudly about why Florida was a great place to live while everyone else was making snowmen. Yet at 26, I’m still living in a place that dumps a foot of snow on me and freezes my car doors shut.

The other day it was exactly 3 degrees when I left my house. When I got out of my car at work, it was ZERO degrees. My nostrils nearly froze shut on the short walk in. It was also a half day, so rather than a recess after lunch, we have a morning recess. This also means that instead of having an assistant take my class out, I do it myself. Quite a few teachers decided to have indoor recess today due to the cold. That was not an option for us. I toyed with the idea for a bit, but by 10 you could literally hear the humming noise emanating from 23 8 year olds who REALLY needed to run off some energy.

So we bundled up and headed out, where the temp had risen to all of 4 degrees. Luckily the kids didn’t seem too bothered. They happily engaged in some of their favorite winter activities, including….

  • Falling face first into the snow.
  • Insisting you are wearing snowpants when clearly you aren’t, specifically so you can join your friends in falling face first into the snow.
  • Going down a plastic slide while wearing nylon winter gear, thus rocketing off the slide at approximately 500 MPH
  • Going down the slide immediately after someone else, so you rocket into them at 500 mph
  • Loudly proclaiming that your pants are not actually jeans, but are in fact snowpants designed by the military to look like jeans
  • Rubbing snow on your face and neck to prove to your teacher that it isn’t actually cold out
  • Making a snowman
  • Karate kicking snowmen
  • Whirling around while holding balls of snow and then accidentally releasing them, but definitely not actually throwing snowballs, because that’s against school rules.

Ah, winter.

New Year

Oops. I forgot to write for four months.

Ok, I didn’t forget. I just kept putting it off, and putting it off, and putting it off. It’s been a busy few months! 

Then Sandy Hook happened. I wrote a few paragraphs, over and over. I kept deleting, rewriting. Trying to put into words the overwhelming combination of feelings. Rage, grief, fear. Above all, the primal feeling that if anyone tried to hurt my kids, I would go for their throat with my teeth, regardless of what weapon they held. I sat in front of the computer screen, and I just couldn’t do it. Couldn’t put it into words.

We’re back from vacation now. It’s our second day. I want to keep writing here. Partly because I really enjoy sharing the absolute insanity of my kids, and all of their wonderful goofy weirdness. Partly because I believe that by putting a positive out into the world- a celebration of all that is good about children; an acknowledgement of the joy they bring me- I counteract the sadness and evil that’s out there, just a little bit.

Here is to 2013.