The Most Evil Product in My Classroom

Dear 3-M Research and Development Team,
   While I thoroughly appreciate many of your products, I feel obligated to inform you that pop-up dispenser Post-Its are officially the most evil office product ever created.  Allow me to elaborate.
   Firstly, you should know that thousands of pads of pop-up dispenser Post-Its have made their way into my classroom, posing as regular Post-Its.  It is there that I have discovered the multitude of ways in which you have clearly designed this product to be an abomination.
   The aforementioned evilness of the pop-up dispenser Post-Its may perhaps have been caused by an innocent mix-up between two R&D meetings, likely happening simultaneously at your fine company.  It would seem that the participants in the “Create Helpful Paper Product” session accidentally sat in on the “Create Uber-Distracting Paper Toy” meeting and vice versa.  In the future, I would recommend scheduling these meetings either on different floors or at different times.
   Though a simple confusion of meetings may have been the cause, I suspect there is a more sinister force at work, here.  I am inclined to believe that a team intentionally placed this product in the hands of children to cause them to spend 94 percent of their class time grasping a pad of Post-Its by the top sheet and letting the pad stretch down to the floor in a magnificent display of accordionism.  With such an object in the room, students’ brains have been turning to mush, as they can think of nothing else but getting their hands on the nearest expanding pad of Post-Its.
   I personally am not acquainted with anyone who even uses a pop-up dispenser for their Post-Its, but they must have quite the powerful lobby in order to flood the market with dispenser-friendly Post-Its to the annoyance of all other Post-It users and most especially to the annoyance of teachers.
   The only solutions I see are to either take this product off the market entirely, or perhaps to ban its use within 1,000 feet of a school zone.
                   Sarah Garb
                   Proponent of Non-Pop-Up Post-Its


So I'm just now done collecting all of my nickels for each time someone has asked me these luuuuvvvv-related questions.  I have used my newfound abundance of nickels to award three lucky readers instant-gratification copies of My Funny Valentine!

As it turns out, children are not only experts in pick-up lines, but also pretty fantastic sources of nutrition and marriage advice.  Hold on - that could be read as a suggestion to eat children for their nutritional value.  Let's try again: Children are fantastic sources of advice on both nutrition and marriage.  And they are also delicious with jam.  Dang it!  Did it again.

The point is, if you are looking for some wisdom on the right ratio of running to eating, or on what types of questions to ask your new spouse on your honeymoon, my new advice post is up on An Army of Ermas today!

And of course, all the Valentine's Day advice you'll ever need can be found here!

Bam! Right to Your Kindle

Man, if I had a nickel for every time someone asked me these questions this Valentine's Day season! 

What can I say to a guy when he fails to drop his current girlfriend for me?  Are the girlfriend's freckles fair game for insults?

What three choices should I give a potential date following my "How are you doing?" pick-up line?  Should one of the multiple choice options be, "Sexy?" 

How do I end a Valentine's Day card that starts with, "I don't love you" ?

I know that many of you out there are in need of advice.  You are in luck!  My new book*, My Funny Valentine will answer all of these questions and more!

The lucky winners of the last giveaway are curled up right now with their copies of the book, but don't worry - there's another chance for you, too, to get a copy of all of the hilarious essays!

The first three readers to comment will get a free Kindle version of My Funny Valentine!
*Which I generously share with many other humor writers...

Magnet Man

Some might call them an impulse purchase.

I call awesome.   Take a gander:

I was at Staples several years ago to pick up some blank DVDs and a plastic pencil box, or something equally personality-free, when this guy caught my eye.  "Do I need a set of magnets that look like a little dude coming out of the metal surface of your choice?" I asked myself in front of the aisle 4 endcap.  YES!  I mean, why would I affix a paper to the board with a lame-colored circle of boringness when I could pin it on there with a FACE?  The choice was clear.

The little Magnet Man made a home in my classroom.  This year he took up residence on the closet door behind my desk, the disembodied legs and arms firmly pressing various photos and important papers in place.  Though certainly an important fixture of the closet door, the smiling face and scattered "Whee!" limbs hadn't caught the eye of any of the kids.

Until today.

Javonte and I were typing up a draft of his essay this afternoon so he could read it more clearly to use for his final copy.  And by that I mean that Javonte was reading aloud a couple of sentences and then playing with the magnets on the closet door while I looked over his shoulder and typed.  "OK - next sentence..." I prompted.  He read, I typed, the magnets beckoned.

He had discovered and re-assembled the Magnet Man appendage by appendage and was completely tickled by the little dude.  Because as we've established, Magnet Man is objectively awesome.  It's like his thighs and upper arms are still stuck in a sea of orange door and he's reaching out to play.  With Javonte.  Who really likes little buddies.
The stuffed purple frog that Javonte found near the resource room where we were working on an assignment last week was one such incredibly fantastic little buddy.  At first it seemed like it might be the useful variety of little buddy, delighting Javonte and helping him get through the tough assignment all at the same time.  But as you might imagine, the frog turned out to be the distracting type of little buddy, delighting Javonte and carrying on an extended play session with him.  Little buddy--fail.

I printed out Javonte's draft and he got crackin' on writing out the final copy.  Magnet Man, however, was not content to be forgotten so quickly.  He hurled himself from the closet door and disjointedly ambled his way over to the magnetic leg of Javonte's table where he proceeded to delight Javonte and...carry on an extended play session with him.

When I checked in on Javonte and his final copy, I discovered the migratory, tie-wearing dude.  I held my hand out for the pieces.  Javonte forked them over.  Hands.  Feet.  Face.  Potbelly.  But it wasn't the full little dude.

"Where's the hat?" I asked, knowing that leaving behind even one of the pieces would ruin both the set and the prospects for this neglected final copy.

"There's a HAT?!?!" Javonte exclaimed in disbelief as I realized that Magnet Man had just gotten a whole lot more appealing, and the final copy just got a whole lot farther from completion.

'Cause you see...when fully dressed, Magnet Man actually looks like this -->

My surprise at finding myself here inside this metal door just propelled my hat straight off my head!

I will not tell Javonte about the umbrella that completes the set....

Mitt, Barack, We've Got You Covered

I'm going to go out on a limb, here, and say that it's very likely that you have heard/seen/read something about the upcoming presidential election with the last nine and a half seconds.  Election coverage is inescapable. 

Nonstop media attention has got to be a tiring feature of the job of running for president, and fourth graders know that the challenges don't end there.  Towards the end of the year, my friend asked her students what they thought were the hardest parts about being a presidential candidate.

"You have so much paperwork."

"You need to know exactly what people want."

It's true--those voters can be hard to read sometimes.  If only Obama and Romney could just write some "circle yes or no" notes directly to the American public, we could save a lot of time and effort on all these fancy polls.

"You can be very mean to the other presidential candidates."

Well, yes.  It must not be easy to come up with those attack ads.  If the super PACs start losing steam, though, I would refer the candidates to any nearby third grader.  The strategy there, though, would probably revolve around talking about the other candidate's momma, but might ultimately prove effective.

Another tough aspect of running for president:
"You have to know a speech or something by the next day."
"You need to stand in front of crowds." 

Those crowds can be huge, I'm sure, and the speeches full of facts and figures and tough words.  Yikes!  One of my students, though, has come up with the perfect way to gracefully extract yourself from a "Forgot my line!" or "Ack! An audience!" situation.  When it all gets to be too much, just freeze on stage, look at the audience, say, "I'm sorry.  I just can't do this."  Then simply walk off stage.  That's all there is to it, fellas.

"You have to make sure you have enough money."

Ain't that the truth!  If the fundraisers just aren't cutting it, or your capital gains dry up, try
selling off the contents of your lunch bag!  There's surely an eight-year-old who will be more than willing to part with his money.  Or just create a fad product that everyone's dying to have and set up an auction between recess and math.

And finally, when the results are in on November 6th, the fourth graders know that that's when the real tough part comes.

"When you don’t get picked or when you’re waiting to hear who will win."
"It’s hard not to cry after losing if you lose."

Don't worry, though, Mitt and Barack.  Losing the race doesn't mean you're a loser!  It just means you're the second favorite, which is a legitimate honor, actually.  And I would know, being Alonzo's second favorite teacher and all.

Should you need a bit of eye-drying, though, I have found that jokes work well for relieving Unfathomable Despair.

And once you've gotten over not being president, you might consider the position of inspector general.  The position probably requires much less fundraising and way smaller crowds, but you'd still get to be at least one kid's hero.

We are NOT Joking Around, Here

This summer I have been getting lots of advice on the impending baby situation that will be happening this fall.   Highlights of this advi...