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Monday, August 27, 2012

Boring but Cute

There is nothing like moving to a new apartment to highlight the most un-fun features of being an adult.  My husband and I moved out of our apartment this week and are currently on a road trip across the country to our new pad.  This process has been chock full of those "being an adult" tasks like Cleaning the Oven (a task which we managed to put off for 7 years until this sparklingly clean oven would be enjoyed by not us), Vacuuming the Closets, and well, Cleaning the Everything.

The main up side to adulthood, of course, is that you get to use hot tubs.  At least, that seemed to be the one salient benefit of being a grown-up according to Hanna and Tyrica in their book, How to Be a Kid.  In addition to their list of pros and cons of being a kid, the girls also laid out a summary of life stages.  Essentially there is a fantastic period of work-free glory days sandwiched between long stretches of boring.


At least babies get to be cute and boring.  We adults just get strict and boring.  And oven cleaning.

Monday, August 20, 2012

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.

Monday, August 13, 2012

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 advice have included:
  • A friend's marathon diaper tutorial that I like to refer to as, "More than Any Person Should Ever Know about Cloth Diapers!"
  • The suggestion from a homeowner whose house we were thinking of renting, when it was revealed that the second bedroom would actually be used to store her furniture, "You could put your baby in the doorway."
  • Baby stores' fantastic advice on the limitless ways I should spend money on my baby (one such way: a device that straps on to your belly and flashes lights in patterns to your unborn baby while you sit back and picture the future genius applying to colleges at age 5)

Another valuable source of baby information came from my third graders at the end of the school year.  Last month I posted some of their advice here (including Ammari's advice on what size baby I should aim for), but the students had plenty more to say on the subject of babies.

I think they might have been a bit concerned that the survey I gave them signaled an apparent lack of knowledge on my part of anything having to do with babies.  "We are a little worried for you" some of their advice seemed to say.  "If you are asking eight-year-olds for advice on babies, clearly we need to start at the beginning.  If nobody has told you this yet, BABIES POOP AND PEE CONSTANTLY.  We kind of thought you might have known that, but in case you didn't, just plan for so much poop you wouldn't believe.  We are NOT joking around, here."

It's not like we haven't discussed bodily functions plenty in the third grade.  In fact, it is precisely having taught elementary school for many years that has prepared me for a wide variety of bathroom-related situations, from bathroom accidents in class to animals pooping out plants.  There have been unexpected things found (and report on!) in the toilet as well as names of feminine hygiene products accidentally blurted out in class.  Loudly.  On two different occasions.

Nonetheless, I was asking the third graders for advice, and they did their best to educate me on what I'll be in for.

"They use the bathroom a lot (in their pants).  They need a lot of diapers."

OK--they use the bathroom a lot, I'll remember that.  And in their pants is what you're saying?  That is gross, but got it.  Note to self: Get diapers.

"She will probably poop on you if you take her diaper off." 

Good to know.  Revised note to self: Get diapers.  Put them on baby.  Do not take them off baby.

"Make sure they don't poop when you're asleep."

"Be ready with a diaper at all times."

"They poop a lot!"

"Have 1,000,000 diapers."

Right.  Based on how many of the kids chose diapers (and the contents of said diapers) as their top advice priority, I'm thinking there's got to be something to this advice.

Some of the other suggestions and cautions on the kids' surveys extended the theme of establishing baby basics.  "Judging from your naiveté of the whole diaper dimension, we might need to make a few things really explicit for you, Ms. Sarah."

"Don't put the baby's room under a staircase because you can bump your head."

Well, I was thinking of the Harry Potter treatment for raising our little one, but will now consider myself advised on the appropriate nursery location. 

"Don't drop the baby!!"

Check.  I can see how that would be less than ideal.

Written again, on the reverse of the same student's paper, in bold letters and in "Seriously, I mean it" style with gigantic exclamation points:
So to recap: Just do whatever Megan did for diapers, beware of belly devices promising genius for $39.95, do not ever (ever!) drop the baby, who should be wearing a diaper (or multiple!) at all times, in her room which is not to be placed under a staircase.  I will try my best.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Brought to You by the Letter T

Some words are so much on your mind, that they're always just a hair away from being pushed down the direct-to-mouth chute and landing out in the world.

For example, if you're eight years old and you're thinking about poop, the chances are extremely high that the word "poop" is going to tumble out of your mouth.  Now the kid next to you is thinking about poop, and has to say the word as well.

While reading Charlotte's Web aloud, with Wilbur's and Fern's and Templeton's names floating around near the direct-to-mouth chute, it's easy to accidentally call a student by the name of juicy, delicious-looking farm animal.

Kids needing to ask me a question reach in and hastily grab the first word they encounter.  "Mom!  Can I pass out the lunches since Sylvio's not here?? Ahh!  I just called my teacher 'Mom'!"  Once in a while the grabbing for a word is so arbitrary I even get called "Dad" or "Grandma."

This hasty word selection phenomenon is dramatically heightened when playing The Letter Game.  During our morning meeting activity, or a drama class warm-up, the kids put their minds to the test to see how many words they can name that start with a particular letter - no repeats.  When it's your turn, you just grab the next "L" word that floats into your consciousness and blurt it out.  If it's not the fourth time that this same word has been attempted, and if it's actually a legitimate term, any word is fair game. 

Well....almost any word.

A couple of months ago we were playing this game with the letter T.  By the third time around the circle, several kids were out after failing to produce a word that met the two criteria.  When Dylan's turn came up again, he corralled all of the T-word possibilities in his brain, and fished out one that was a legitimate word and had definitely not been used before.

"Tampon!" he exclaimed.  With the exception of one other student who let out a shocked noise, and a teacher who kept in a shocked noise and made a note to touch base with Dylan after the game, we were on to "transform" with no discernable pause in the action.  I mean, the game has to stay moving after all!

Surprisingly, this was actually the second time that I've had to talk to a student about not randomly blurting out the word "tampon."