Dear Parents: I’m sorry I turned your child green and gave him or her a mustache

There are a lot of things grad school will never prepare you for. One of those things is drafting an email to parents with the subject line “I’m sorry I turned your child green and gave him or her a mustache.”

Our day started with an exchange of Valentines. Temporary tattoos are very popular. Cute animals, peace signs, superheroes… and mustaches. After reminding them that these things stay on for at least a day, I let them go wild. It was hilarious! Picture a group of 24 little kids wearing pretty realistic looking mustaches. I did consider what their parents would think, but in the long run I figured it was fine.

On to the next activity! After reading Dr. Suess’ Bartholomew and the Oobleck earlier in the week, we had fun with our own oobleck- cornstarch, water, and green food coloring. If you never had the chance to play with this, I feel sorry for you. Your childhood was seriously lacking, and you should go to the store immediately and buy cornstarch. The result is a gooey, amazing semi-solid liquid that you can have a lot of fun with! After the kids had been playing with it for a few minutes, I noticed something- Their hands were green. I had apparently added wayyyyy too much food coloring. They looked like the ninja turtles. But with mustaches!

I wasn’t too worried about sending them home with mustaches, but with mustaches AND bright green hands? Bright green arms, even, on the kids who had really dug in. I couldn’t look at them without laughing.

When we all trooped off to lunch, the reactions from the other kids were priceless. Mustached heads held high, my kids ate their lunches with all the dignity a turtle with facial hair can muster. They loved it.

One of my former students stopped me and asked, “What did you do to your students?” “Me?” I asked indignantly. “Why is it my fault?” He raised his eyebrows. “They’re green and they have mustaches.” “So?” I asked. “Maybe they did it without me knowing.” “Aren’t you supposed to be in charge?” He asked. “You’re just jealous I never turned you green.” I told him. He nodded. “I am, actually.”

Two of my students have parents who work in the school. I stopped one of them in the staff room. “In a purely hypothetical way, what would your reaction be if your son came home with green arms and a mustache?” She shrugged. “Typical Friday.” Now I just cross my fingers the rest of the parents feel that way.

Very important meeting!

While we were waiting in library for the rest of the class to check out books, one little guy suddenly announced he had a very important meeting, and pulled his head into his shirt.

“Um, what?” I asked. Muffled by fabric, he bellowed “Very important meeting!” “With who?” I asked. “My nipples!” He announced, still inside his shirt. This is a kid that’s normally extremely active, so considering he was at least standing still, I decided to let it go. The other kids looked at me. I shrugged.

A few minutes went by, and I could hear him having a muffled but intense conversation. Eventually, I asked him to come out so we could go upstairs. He popped out long enough to announce that he first had to count his nipples to make sure they were still there. He then withdrew back into his shirt, and yelled, “No nipple! You can’t leave yet, the meeting isn’t over!” Luckily, both nipples stayed in place and cooperated, so we made it back to class in time for snack.

Butterfly Brain

Last week, I had a horrible headache- pain, trouble seeing, the works. I left a bit early, and our vice principal stayed with my class through dismissal. Before he came in, I explained to the kids why I was leaving. It was graphic, maybe, but to the point.

“I have an awful headache. It hurts really bad, especially in my eyes. It feels like something is trying to escape my head through my eyes.”

“Is it a butterfly?” This was blurted out immediately by one of my boys with some attentional/impulsivity issues. I burst out laughing, and the kids joined in. I waited for them to pack up, and as I was getting ready to leave, a few of my kids came back from speech.

“Where’s she going?” One asked. “There’s a butterfly in her brain or something”, another responded.

On my way out the door at this point, I called back “I’m fine. I don’t have a butterfly in my brain!” The facial expression on the other teachers was priceless.

Cookies

I’ll preface this only by saying that it’s Girl Scout cookie season.

At the end of the day yesterday, I patted one of my girls on the head and accidentally shocked her with static electricity. Naturally, this led to a conversation about what would happen if we switched brains.

“What would you do if you were me and trying to act like I normally do?” I asked, expecting some answer related to, oh, I don’t know, teaching.

“Eat cookies behind the desk when I think no one’s looking.” Was the immediate answer.

If we ever did switch brains, I’m confident she could impersonate me flawlessly.

Ink

Here’s an idiom most kids DO know: Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. They say it to each other when they notice people judging unfairly. They notice it as a moral or message from the author in books they read. It’s on their minds. They’re aware of it. I wish adults were the same.

I helped lead a tour today for parents choosing the right school for their incoming kindergartners. I love doing this. I like interacting with parents, showing them my building and my colleague’s classrooms, and talking about this school that I love so much. It makes me happy. It reminds me how lucky I am to be here.

I woke up tired this morning. I wanted to pull on my faded, comfy sweatshirt and favorite jeans, but I remembered the tour. I wanted to look presentable and professional. We have a relaxed dress code, but I wanted to give off a good impression on behalf of my school. So I found a nicer pair of jeans, a cardigan I hardly ever wear. I put on jewelry. Dug out some shoes that weren’t battered and weirdly colored.

The tours went well. The parents were smiling, absorbing it all, asking questions. While we were watching some second graders work on their writing, one parent leaned in and said quietly, “I have a question.” I saw his eyes on my arm, where my sleeve was rolled up a bit, showing some of a tattoo on my inner forearm. “Do all the teachers here have your level of… ink?” It was sarcastic, it was judgmental, it was condescending. I turned red, and wanted to sink into the floor. I laughed awkwardly. He raised an eyebrow, shook his head slowly at me. Luckily the tour moved on before I had to answer.

I have tattoos. It’s part of my identity. I know some people don’t like them, and that’s fine. I know that it changes the publics perception of me. I’m aware. I don’t regret any of them. I frequently get more.

I shouldn’t have let that comment bother me. I was tired, though, and stressed. I’d taken time out of my incredibly busy day, skipped my lunch, to show these people my community. I wore a cardigan instead of a sweatshirt for them. I am not a cardigan kind of person!

He may have not meant it offensively  I may have imagined or exaggerated the dislike on his face, or his tendency to ignore me and address my colleague for the rest of the tour. Even if I didn’t imagine it, I can console myself that if that bit of ink on my forearm bothered him, he probably wouldn’t like the rest of our non-conventional atmosphere.

In the hindsight of a few hours, it was actually pretty funny. I have thirteen other tattoos he can’t see. THIRTEEN. If it were June and I had been wearing a skirt, he would have seen a few more on my ankles. Nothing huge. Nothing offensive. As for the tattoo that was showing. that bothered him enough to make that comment, it’s a word in ancient Greek. Phonetically, it’s pronounced dedaskalos. It means teacher.

Sick Horses, Presents, and Recess: A Study in Idioms

Idioms can be really hard for kids to understand. If you stop and think about it, quite a few don’t make much sense. My current class is made up of some REALLY concrete thinkers, so when I accidentally used an idiom, hilarity ensued.

It started with recess. I like to include a morning recess as often as I can, but we don’t always have time. So on a day we don’t usually go out, I decided I could squeeze it in, and told the kids we’d have about 10 minutes outside. They weren’t as happy as I thought they’d be, and instead loudly pointed out that we usually have at least 15 minutes outside, sometimes 20! They were outraged.

I pointed out that even getting the extra 10 minutes outside on a busy day was a good thing, and something we wouldn’t have otherwise had. “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”, I told them.

There was about a minute of shocked silence, followed by a collective “WHAT?” I explained as best I could what it meant, but they were lost.

“Is the horse the gift someone gave you, or did the horse give you a present?”

“A horse would be a dumb present to give, because you need things like a stable, and hay, and not everyone has that.”

“How could a horse give a present? What would it even pick out for you?” “Is it carrots? I bet it’s carrots.”

“Why can’t you look in it’s mouth?” “Is it sick?” “Are it’s teeth infected?” “Do horses have bad breath?” “My dog has bad breath.” “My dog eats socks.”

“Is the gift in the horses mouth?” “Did the horse put it there?” “Maybe the horse isn’t the present, but the person giving you the present put it in the horses mouth.” “That’s a terrible place for a present. Horses bite.” “If it’s a food present, there can be germs in horses mouths, so you shouldn’t eat it after.”

“Is it like Christmas, where you can’t look at the present right away? Is the horse hiding it?”

“Is this still about recess?”

This entire exchange took about 2 chaotic minutes, during which I tried futilely to explain what it meant. Then I gave up, and we went out to recess. I can’t wait until one of them tries to use it in a sentence.