Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Blame it on the rain

I mean it. If you have younguns at home (and you know who you are), these teacher people who your kids spend so much time with deserve some credit.

Especially when it rains, because after hours sitting there with no recess and maybe just some Heads up 7-up for entertainment, these kids are going stir crazy, and they have driven their teacher (who has had no break all day long) around the BEND.

After an hour teaching science at a new school today, I am ready to fall over. I got the call last week to take over from another teacher. The explanation that I got was that I was replacing someone who had issues with showing up on time.

After teaching the class? I think the person I am replacing may have been admitted to a mental institution. Most classes have two or three boys who are described as being a "problem". I can tell you right now, this class has at least eight.

Most classes of first and second graders can get a little crazy, especially when you show up with a huge black trunk, wearing a white lab coat, assorted blinking pins, and multicolored hairclips. They go WILD.

You get warm fuzzies and wonder if, on the way in from the car, you have somehow turned into a Spice Girl. You hope that if that's the case, it's Ginger, because let's face it- Posh has turned herself into a sun-baked cadaver.

So anyway- kids go wild. They all volunteer to be helpers. The teacher whispers in your ear about the one little boy that you have to "watch every second!- He WANDERS" (gulp) and also informs you that due to an "incident" last week, which she is sure I read about in the newspaper, (which I don't read so, I can only rely on my lurid imaginings- but I didn't confess that to HER) children have to go to the bathroom in pairs.

Due to the torrential rain outside, every time I sent them, it felt strangely like a long-winded television mini-series about Noah's Ark.

So now I am afraid that the little boy in the front will turn into a knife-wielding maniac or disappear at any moment, and that any child who leaves the classroom may have some freak waiting in the bathroom who wants to touch them "in their swimsuit area." The teacher leaves, and the kids commence to running around and screaming and flailing in the way only second graders can flail.

At this point, one of the classroom mothers walks in, and she looks totally unfazed by the ruckus. This is when I should have realized that the ruckus was totally the status quo, and I was in waaaay over my head.

5 seconds later, two little boys run up to me.

"Teacher! TEACHER! Bobby* punched me in the CROTCH!!!!"

"Me tooo...me too! He punched me too!"

I was only warned about a notorious wanderer and a possible recent molestation event- crotch punching seemed even more ominous. The mother smiled and shrugged in a way that indicated that not only was crotch-punching a regular occurrence, but that she didn't really see what I could do about it either.

I think she said, "Now Bobby, that's not nice!" (Which seems like kind of an understatement to me, but that's OK.) And then she left.

I confronted Bobby, who smiled sweetly at me, lied though his teeth, and said that he wasn't Bobby, he was George.

This is when all the little girls started tattling, (Liar! Teacher, he's LYING)in the self-important way that only little girls can tattle. I was immediately engulfed in a squealing sea of pink, bobbing pigtails and frantically upraised and waving hands. I tried fruitlessly not to start hyperventiling.

I made Bobby/George sit by me, (he was not pleased with this arrangement) and started my spiel while I set up. Things went pretty smoothly, until we came to an activity where we had to split into 5 groups of five.

I know second graders can count to five. If they can't. I may have lost my faith in their parents, the school system, and a benevolent God.

I know they can SUBTRACT, because I had two groups yelling Three boys- "But we have only THREEEEEEEE- we need two!" like it was the end of the world, while the two little girls (who were obviously BFF's) right next to them wailed, "But we have only TWOOOOOOOOOOO! We need three!"

I suggested they join forces, and they looked at me like I was the stupidest
stupidhead in all of Stupidville. Evidently the boy/girl cootie war is still alive and well in the second grade, even in this enlightened age.

So. I let the boys be on their own (yes, because I'm a pushover, dammit) and the girls got to me my "assistants." Like most sensible women, they were thrilled to be in a position of authority. I fairly saw their little pink hearts glow through their little pink t-shirts. (For the record, one t-shirt read, "I'm the CUTE one". The other one had a flower on it.)

Anyway. Aside from periodic breaks to go to the bathroom in pairs, the kids seemed engaged (except for Bobby/George, who kept repeating, "This is BOR-RING, and I can't SEE!" at intervals, while I reminded him quietly that next week, if he wanted to sit with the rest of the kids, he shouldn't be slugging them in the genitals.)

At some point, I looked up, and realized that of the three boys who had been together in one group, two of them seemed more freckly than they had at the outset. More unusually, the freckles were bright blue, and the boy in the middle seemed to have escaped the blight. I approached him.


"Um, I don't have a pen."

"Give me the PEN. RIGHT NOW."

Evidently, I managed my scary look, because he handed it over. He also gave me a look that bespoke his theory that evey pen in my pen collection had been mercilessly thieved from blameless infants like himself.

So a whole lot of bathroom trips and countdowns (and one cell-phone confiscation warning)later, I made it. I am hoarse, and very nearly deaf. But I made it. And while they definitely kept me on my toes, and I am glad that there's a week between visits, I had a fantastic time. I know. I'm sick like that.

Where else does a kid get a call during class from his "brother's girlfriend"? Has two-timing filtered down to the second-grade demographic? I blame Bill Clinton.

I am also looking forward to the weekend. We are sponsoring a booth at the Kids thing at Grizzlies stadium. I'll be the one in the lab coat, making slime with kids and GETTING PAID for doing it. I am beginning to think that this is the ultimate job. My sister the lawyer is seriously jealous.

* I made up Bobby/George. Which you should have realized, because it seems like every boy under the age of 15 is named things like "Gavin" and "Tarquin" and "Dermot."

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