Monday, September 25, 2006

School Daze Part 2

Friday I got to go to my son’s class. Traditionally I start off by meeting him for lunch and then staying the rest of the day, so that’s where my story begins.
I walked into the cafeteria to find my son, but soon realized that his charming good looks don’t stand out nearly as well when he is surrounded by more than a hundred other kids all wearing the same red school spirit shirts. It only took a moment to find him thanks to his friend. He spotted me standing in the doorway and started shaking my son to get his attention. It’s not nearly as hard to find him when he is impersonating a milk shake. So I take my place at the table to hear about the events of the past week from the kids in his class. Did you know that Michael can spit farther than his older sister? Neither did I. I wasn’t showing nearly as much enthusiasm that this news clearly required so my son patiently explains that Michael’s sister can spit farther than all the boys in her class. Now, that is impressive. After giving him his due respect for his new found talent we all start discussing the ways we might fight off space aliens if they ever invaded earth to turn our brains to mush. I won’t go into detail here because it was deemed “Classified” and after hearing what would happen to the aliens I shudder to think what they might do to a traitor.
Finally they release us for recess. It’s a much more pleasant experience since Crabby Abby seems to only be assigned to the third lunch group of the day. We pack up our lunches and head outside. Man it gets windy here. It’s a good thing I didn’t bother to do anything more with my hair than pull it into a ponytail. My son doesn’t feel much like running around so he suggests we take shelter behind a wall to stay out of the wind. Not a bad idea. Until the wind decides we can’t hide from it that easily and punishes us by sweeping a gust of sand around the corner of where we were sitting. We spent the rest of recess sitting further away from the corner of the wall rubbing dirt out of our eyes and wondering in our dog Cookie would make a good Seeing Eye dog.
The bell rings and we all line up to be marched back to class. The only thing missing is some sort of cadence. Once we reach the comfort of the class room we get ready for show and share. I like my son’s class. There are a lot of interesting kids in there. Pay Attention Vinny was the first to show us what he had brought. It was a shirt. He told us a couple things about it and then the class gets to ask three questions. This one seemed to have stumped the kids so the teacher said that if they didn’t have any questions they could say something nice about it. What a good idea. So three kids took turns telling him that it was a nice shirt and then Pay Attention Vinny sat down. Then it was Speak Up Hailey’s turn. We couldn’t hear what it was she had brought, but it looked like a picture of some kind. Next, Raise Your Hand Leeanna showed us a bookmark she got from a book fair. It went on and on like this and finally we finished with Use a Tissue Brenton. He showed us a foot that was made of wood and marked how many miles he had walked in Kindergarten. After that the kids got to practice their penmanship while the teacher put me to work grading homework and making phonics activities for the class to use. I like making those, once I have them colored and cut out they let me use the laminator. I may even change my name to “The Laminator” and start announcing that “I’ll be back” when I’m done. They just got a new laminator at the school and it has a key that you need to sign out in order to use it. This is a big deal. I mean, they don’t let just anybody use the laminator, especially if you need to sign for the key. So after a quick background and credit check they deem that I am worthy to use the prized laminator if I promise to sign back out when I am done. They hand over the key and it was like those moments in the movies. There was this weird music and a light shown down from above on the key. With Excalibur clutched safely in my hand I walk down the hall to the laminator and realize I have no clue how to use it. It can’t be that hard, right? Lucky for me someone left the user guide on the filing cabinet next to the table, so I glance through it and find out that it really isn’t that hard. So I turn it on and wait for it to warm up and get on with the laminating. Everything went smoothly, I didn’t even break it. I handed over the key and feeling a sense of loss I head back to the class room so I can cut out the things I had just laminated while the kids roam about the room working on various projects. By the time the bell rings to go home I think I have developed some new form of Carpel Tunnel Syndrome. I think I will call it Carpel Scissors Syndrome (say that three times fast!). I say good bye and promise to come back next week to teach them all how to recognize an alien in teachers clothing and go home. My son thinks I’m the coolest mom in the whole world and I’m OK with that.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

School Daze

I have the wonderful opportunity that is rarely afforded to parents to embarrass my kids in their class on a weekly basis. I don’t know how long it will last, but as long as my children volunteer to have me in their classes I will keep coming. This year my daughter has opted for Monday to be her designated day of humiliation. Dutifully I visit her class on Monday’s helping the teacher when she needs me and explaining math concepts that I didn’t learn until High School to the kids when they ask. Monday is also Music for her class. We are marched down the halls of the school and wait as quiet as it is possible for a group of twenty some odd nine year olds for the music teacher to grant us visitation rights to his Fortress of Musical Learning. He takes the roll and reminds me of someone who missed his true calling as a Hippie and is now forced to teach basic musical skills to droves of children day in and day out. He starts to review concepts that were taught the previous Monday and is disappointed when no one can remember 40 minuets worth of sheet reading skills after an entire week of Social Studies, Math, Science, Art, PE, and Library not to mention a weekend spent emptying their heads. So he moves on to have them sing the songs for the holiday presentation that the school puts on every November. I sit quietly in the back trying not to knock anything over because I have a feeling that he wouldn’t hesitate to bring me to the front of the class to have everyone explain why we shouldn’t be a distraction to the rest of the students. A glorious 40 minuets later we are released from Music Class to go back to our room and get ready for lunch. It’s always been my favorite part of the school day. You can sit and eat and talk with your mouth full and no one will tell you to mind your manners and get your elbows off the table. But then I met Crabby Abby. I don’t know her real name and even if I bothered to find out I would stick with Crabby Abby, because it fits. She prowls the lunch room looking for rule breakers and anyone talking in more than a whisper. When you are finished you need to put your head down and wait to be released to the playground. What a drag. She stopped liking kids about 5 years ago, but likes the job so the rest of us have to put up with her. Naturally as the responsible adult that I am, I do my best to make faces at her when her back is turned and whisper imitations of her to the children huddled around me at the table. Then when the anticipated moment of release arrives we put our heads down and wait to be set free. Finally we can run and play and make as much noise as we like only to be called in because of the thunder storm moving our way. “Those bolts of lightning are way over there!” I protest. It seems the teachers (who double as proctors) have the children’s safety in mind and they load us back into the cafeteria. No big deal. We can still tell jokes and talk about what we did over the weekend; Until Crabby Abby walks in. She lets out a whistle that sounds like life will never have a fun moment in it ever again and tells us all to “quiet down”. Quiet down? Are you serious? We just lost our recess through no fault of our own and now she wants us to speak with our indoor voices? You’ve got to be kidding me. But another whistle tells me that she is not kidding. So we spend the rest of the recess thinking up reasons that would explain her disposition; quietly, of course. I offer that maybe she was never a kid. Perhaps she was just dropped on this earth as a grown up and given a book of rules to make everyone follow. My daughter thinks that perhaps she is inhabited by a crabby race of aliens and it’s not really her fault. She might be struggling to get her body back from the snatchers so she can be the fun loving person she might once have been. One of her classmates suggests that perhaps she always ate alone at lunch when she was their age and is bitter about it. Not bad, but someone else thinks that she is from the government sent to spy on us and if she’s disliked by the students no one will want to get to close to her leaving her free to spy on the entire school unchecked. Yet another theory is from a girl I’ve never met. She thinks that the teachers have to draw straws when they start teaching at the school. Some of them have to be strict and some of them have to be cool, and some of them have to be mean. It’s to fill the quota set by the school so that there is balance in all things. We don’t get to think anymore ideas because the bell has sounded and we line up by class to be ushered back to our rooms. When we are back in the loving atmosphere created by my daughters teacher (clearly she drew a “nice” straw) we are instructed to take out our writing books and tell a story. It can be real, or completely fabricated. I like to mix the two. My daughter gets me some paper and a pencil so that I may join in the writing exercise, and I do not want to disappoint her. I let my mind wander a moment and settle on the perfect thing to write about. But you will have to wait until the next blog to read about it. We finish our day with a little math, and little reading and head home for the day. I can’t wait until Friday when I get to visit my son’s class!