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.”




The Tattooed… Mom

I’ve had a lot of big news I was able to share with my classes over the years. Buying a house, getting engaged, getting a puppy, getting married. This is the biggest so far- pregnancy!

As soon as I found out, one of my first thoughts was of telling my students. Both how exciting that would be, and how awkward that would be. To little kids, having a baby is somewhere between fact and magic. “Well, you got married, so this is the logical next step. Now something will happen involving birds and bees, maybe specifically storks, some scientific terms I don’t understand but my parents told me so the could feel progressive, and you’ll have a baby in you. Voila. When’s recess?”

My students are ten and eleven, the age when certain aspects of human relationships start to become both extremely interesting and extremely gross. They have, at the very least, a vague sense that what starts this process has a lot less to do with storks and a lot more to do with those feelings they’ve all started having when they look at each other. In short, “I don’t know exactly what you did to get this way, but I’m sure it’s sort of gross.” The preteen years are a magical time.

When it became evident to both myself and my colleagues that I couldn’t go on pretending I was suffering from a low grade stomach bug all the time and smuggling fruits of increasing large sizes under my shirts, I decided to tell the kids. I broke the news, and reassured them I’d still be here for most of next year (since my school has classes with the same teacher for two years, I’ll be their sixth grade teacher, too). Their reactions were about as awkward as I expected, as hilarious as I could have hoped, and much sweeter than I thought they would be.

After a moment of stunned silence, one of the boys clapped his hands to his face and yelled “That’s so exciting! This is awesome!” Then the floodgates opened and a million questions were unleashed.

“How big is your belly?”

“How big will you get?”

“Is it a boy or a girl?” “When will you find out?” “How can they tell if it’s a boy or a girl?” (The answer to the last one was a shocker- no one apparently thought the same rules applied for babies in utero and the rest of the mammal kingdom.)

“How do ultrasounds work?” “Why are they called that?”

“What will you name it?” “Can we pick the name?” “Can we vote on the name?” “Will you name it after me?” “Or me?” “What about me?”

“Do you have any cravings?” “Have you eaten weird food?” “Does it like (fill in random food here)?”

“Will it come to visit us?” (Not, will you bring it in to visit. Will it come to visit. Of it’s own volition.)

“How does it get food?” “How does it breath if it’s in there?” Following this was a student provided run-down of how the umbilical cord works, much to the discomfort of everyone else, including me.

“If the cords attached to you and the baby, what happens to the part in you when they cut the cord?” (Full disclosure, I used the best of my evasive ‘answer without really answering’ techniques and then found the nearest colleague with kids as soon as I went to lunch to ask her the exact same question. Apparently I still have a lot to learn.)

“Does all pregnancy ruin your stomach? Because my mom says I ruined hers. If it does, don’t tell the baby, it will feel bad.”

“Will it go to our school?”

“Will your dogs like it?”

“Can we at least pick it’s middle name?”

All in all, it took about an hour of processing and questions, both the practical, the personal, and the scientific. I’m excited about the whole thing. I’m so glad they know, and so happy they are excited for me. This lucky little bean has 23 big friends looking out for it already.

A Special Kind of Awkward

I’ve had quite a few students in my fairly brief time as a teacher who had a parent who taught with me. Luckily my coworkers are all pretty great, and the staff kids I’ve had have all been sweet, laid back kids. Since my own mother is a teacher in the school we share a building with, I know first hand that having a parent in the building can at times be awkward.

Case in point, the one time my own mother really let the colleague role drop and went full on mom. It was my second year, and I was leading the class outside on a fairly cool fall day. From behind me, I heard, “Is that what you’re wearing on your feet? Sandals? In October?!” I turned to see my mom with a shocked look on her face. In the time it took me to turn, she realized where we were and that chastising your adult child for her footwear choices at work was not the way to go. She mouthed “I am so sorry!” and immediately walked away. The kids, of course, ¬†thought it was hilarious.

So I know that it isn’t easy to have your mom there every step of the way while you try and go about your life.

Yesterday was the pinnacle of mother/teacher awkwardness for one of my boys. His mom and I have worked together for awhile. We’re both on a team of staff that deals with students in crisis. Yesterday, we were taking a refresher course for our restraint training. It’s not a funny topic. We need to practice how to safely hold and move a child that may be kicking, screaming, biting, and punching. When it happens, it’s sad, scary, and overwhelming. We take it very seriously.

That said, it’s hard to practice the same holds on your colleagues and not feel a bit ridiculous. Once you’ve had to restrain your principal while he pretends to try and pull your hair out (for training purposes!) you can really only laugh.

At one point, I was in the student role, while two of my colleagues restrained me. We were practicing a hold in which we would nee to safely lower a student to the ground, or one where we would need to go down safely if a student dropped to the ground by choice. I was facing the glass wall that partitioned the room we were using from the hallway, arms behind my back and a colleague on each side of me.

Of course, that was when my class walked by, on their way to music class. Of course, the other class in music was running late, so my kids got to stand for a few minutes and watch the whole thing. Of course, one of the teachers restraining me was the mother of one of my students.

“Hi sweetie!” She called to him, using my hand to wave. He shook his head and put his face in his hands while the rest of the class ogled us with confusion and glee.

We counted down, then all hit the mat with a less-than-graceful thump. Outside, my class applauded. Hopefully at my graceful moves, not the sight of their teacher being taken down like a pro-wrestler.

When I got upstairs, my colleague’s son had only this to say- “That was a special kind of awkward.”

I told him he should feel lucky- how many kids get to watch their mom take down their teacher in a drop hold?!