Tell Me Everything

Once a week my class pairs up with a first grade class to read books. It’s one of my favorite traditions, and the older and younger kids all really love it. It’s also a chance for me to interact with first graders, which is always an adventure.

Today one little girl brought a non-fiction book about fish to read with her buddy. They were near my desk as I answered an email, so I could hear my student patiently answering questions about fish. Do they blink? Do they have eyelids? If they don’t, how do they close their eyes when they sleep? My student patiently answered as best she could, including to say she didn’t know and maybe they could do more research together in the library. I smiled to myself, so proud of my student.

However, after awhile they hit a point where my fifth grader was all out of answers. Which was when I looked up from my computer to see a tiny person staring at me solemnly. As soon as I made eye contact, she demanded “Tell me about goldfish rectums.” In a heavy Russian accent, which made it even better.

I stared back at her as I decided where to start. “What do you want to know?” I asked. “Everything.” She answered.

Thus followed a detailed discussion of the digestive system, fish eating habits, and official terminology of body parts. Always an adventure.


Revolution, Babies, and Pill Bugs

The last time I told a class I was pregnant, they spent about 45 minutes processing and asking questions. This time, it went VERY different.

After telling most of the staff, I was eager to let the kids know. Especially as it got more and more obvious that I was not just getting chubbier. I wanted them (and their parents) to hear from me before word got out. Unfortunately, crazy schedules, extended absences and unexpected time out of the room meant over a week had gone by since I planned to announce. Finally, I had a day that would work.

We spent the first part of the day on a field trip, touring sites in Boston associated with the American Revolution. One of my favorites! We were scheduled to get back around 1:30, which would give us two hours before the day ended. Plenty of time!

Except it wasn’t, because we got lost walking back to the bus, needed to find bathrooms, got lectured by a very cranky bus driver on noise level before we could leave, and then hit traffic. We got in about 2:15. An hour and a quarter? Plenty of time to process the miracle of life.

As we walked in, a frantic secretary waved me over. I ushered my kids into the class, and went to see what was up. Turns out the living organisms we had ordered for our upcoming science unit had come in. Not last week, like the original order said, or next week, like the company told us when they contacted us about the delay. Sitting in the office patiently waiting to be ogled by children were several containers of snails, worms, and pillbugs. All of which would die if left over night in said boxes. Excellent. I figured setting them up in the terrariums we had made could take awhile.

Once we were in the classroom, we circled up on the rug. I had the kids quickly go around and say something they learned on our trip. Then I said I had news to share, told them I was expecting, that I would miss some time but not a full year, I didn’t know the gender, and no, they couldn’t pick the name. Then I asked for questions. Most were to repeat that no, I would not let them pick the name. No, not the middle name either. One boy asked if he could say a comment. When I said yes, he replied, “This was a really weird transition from talking about the field trip.”

I smiled. “It sure was. Now head to your tables. I’m going to hand you a paper plate with worms on it.”



Is this a Monday or what?

This Monday was one of those days that before it even technically begins is a disaster. After an early morning meeting, I headed up to my class. The first thing I did was take off my shoes. I like to be barefoot, and I tend to take my shoes off and forget them. The second thing I did was check the fish tank, where I noticed that the tank full of guppies now had half it’s residents floating belly up. In the months since I inherited all my colleagues fish (roughly a billion, by my counts) when her tank cracked, not a single one had died. Now the whole top of the tank was a mess of tiny, disintegrating corpses.

I was attempting to fish them out when my colleague came in to borrow a book. She told me some of her fish had died, too, and guessed that the freezing temperatures last night this late in the season while the heat was off sent the temperature in the rooms way down. While we were talking, a wasp suddenly came out of nowhere and dive bombed us. I jumped, flinging dead fish all over the wall and surrounding bookshelves. My colleague then managed to kill the wasp by smacking it with the book, leaving a swear of guts and a new dead thing on the counter.

Of course, the kids arrived then! My colleague left to go to her own class, leaving me in my circle of death. I explained to the kids that some fish had died, and that I had accidentally flung them all around the room. And there was a dead wasp, too. And I’d clean everything.

To back track a bit- one of our art caddies has a drawer that doesn’t stay shut. It also slides slowly open and closed on it’s own at really strange moments. Being the mature adult I am, I joked that the room was possessed by demons. Now when the drawer opens or closes on it’s own, the kids blame demons.

It was a logical next step.

“Demons killed the fish!” One yelled, and word spread.

“Where are your shoes?” Asked another. I had no idea.

One of my students is the kind of kid who seems like an old man in a child’s body. He get’s huffy when things change, walks with a slouch and his belly protruding, grumbles to himself loud enough for others to hear, and uses quaint colloquialisms like “jeepers, creepers!” And ” Well golly!”

He surveyed the scene, sighed loudly, threw up his hands and announced to no one in particular “The fish are dead and it’s MAYBE because of demons, there’s a wasp invasion, and my teacher is barefoot and can’t even find her own shoes! Is this a Monday, or what?”