May the New Year bring you much love, peace and happiness!
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Little had a friend over today. Here is one of their many conversations:
Friend: Wow! Where'd you get such a big t.v.?
Little: (very matter-of-factly) Oh, it's a family Christmas gift from my nana.
Friend: Wow! She's rich!
Little: No, she's not rich, but she IS cool! She has a Sega Genesis!
Friend: I really don't know what that is.
Little: It's a really, really OLD video game.
"Santa" brings the kid the latest and greatest and SHE's cool because she owns this:
It's time to put Christmas away. The ornaments are starting to fall off as the branches droop and the tall, sparkly thing that makes the house smell fresh like a forest is becoming a fire hazard. The tree was planted to be just what he is a tall, fully adorned Christmas Tree. He has fulfilled his destiny and will eventually become mulch in one of the cities flower beds.
As I ponder the meaning of life of our friend "the tree" it's that time of the year when it's time to take stock in the meaning of our own lives. The end of another year and the beginning of a new one.
Time to start anew, start fresh, a clean slate, one foot in front of the other as we make our way through a new year. Resolutions anyone?
I'm not big on resolutions. Because inevitably they will be broken. Exercise? Lose Weight? Eat Healthier? I don't need a new year to know I need to do those things, but I am going to use the new year to try to be BETTER.
Better at what? Just about everything because to say I'm 100% good at anything would be a big fat lie. There is always room for improvement.
So to that end, here's my Better List:
- a better mom
- a better wife
- a better teacher
- a better friend
- a better daughter
- a better sister
- a better cook
- a better financial manager
- a better reader
- a better driver
- a better non-procrastinator
Phew! I could go on, but I think those are lofty enough goals for one year. I think it's important to strive to be the best person you can be, not easy, but I know, someday, when my branches start to droop and my ornaments begin to fall I want to know I was the best sparkly thing I could have been.
Happy New Year.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
The preparations for the big guy's visit have begun. We had to pick just the right cookie Pepperidge Farms Ginger Men, we set aside one special packet of Swiss Miss, and dusted off the special Santa plate. At the grocery store today I bought special Reindeer carrots, the ones with the greens still attached and we polished one red apple to shiny perfection. The apple is for Rudolph, the red ones help make his red nose shiny.
Little is on his best behavior, visions of sugar plums are already dancing in his head and have been for weeks. He's working on the letter that will be so carefully placed by the plate of cookies and we have the Santa Tracker bookmarked.
I know it won't be much longer and I'll have to pack away the Santa plate, and there won't be any need to buy the carrots with the greens attached, but I'll enjoy every crazy moment because the magic of Santa only lasts so long.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Don't those words just bring back memories? Remember waking up extra early to turn on the radio to find out if your town was going to be included in the cancelled list? Remember how the local am station was all staticky and you had to listen to it over and over again just to be sure? Remember how bothered you felt when the town next door was cancelled but your town wasn't? Why was it that your mom had to drag you out of bed on a school day, but on a snow day you were up bright and early in anticipation and then when school was cancelled you just couldn't go back to bed? Snow days are still exciting for me because I'm a teacher, but the snow day call isn't nearly as much fun as it used to be.
We knew today before we even left school, not a single flake has fallen. No reason to listen to the radio, no reason to watch the list scroll by on t.v. No need to cross my fingers. It's a done deal.
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
Thursday, December 11, 2008
It's always fun to see a child's reaction when they see their teacher out and about, in the grocery store, at the bank, and around the neighborhood. It was adorable Halloween night when a child from school rang the bell and I answered the door. The look on her face was priceless!
Even better than that is when a child finds out his teacher's first name. They are suddenly the cool kid, the kid that's finally got the goods. The kid that has THE secret and is about to become the prince of the playground because he's going to spill the secret to every kid he knows!
It happened today. My paraprofessional called me by my first name in front of one of the kids and he jumped on it.
"What did you just call her?"
"I called her by her first name."
"I heard you say Lisa, you called her Lisa. Her first name is Lisa!"
"Yes, but the respectful thing to do is call her Miss C."
"Her first name is Lisa, Hey guys, Mrs. C's first name is Lisa!"
So I gathered them together and admitted it. He had me. What else could I do? I couldn't lie, I stress honesty and I have to stand by it.
So, I managed to move on and turn their attention to my highly dramatic reading of The Gingerbread Baby. We got through the rest of our day without much issue. I thought the incident was over and done with until...
the end of the day as I was dismissing the kids to their parents the newly crowned prince turned to me and said..."Good-bye Lisa."
He got me and he got me good.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Around this time of year I remind Little that "Santa is always watching." Since he's 8 I know his Santa days are numbered, so I cherish every minute of it. We bake the cookies, feed the reindeer, write the letters, and last year we even tried to catch him on video...but he was too smart for us and with a jingle and a very deep "Ho Ho Ho" he shut off the camera before leaving any evidence.
We were out an about today, and on the way home we were stopped at a red light. Stopped next to us in a Jeep Cherokee was "Santa" all decked out in full gear. Full snow-white beard, long white hair, furry red hat, if I didn't know better I'd swear he was "The Guy".
So excitedly I said, "Hey look! There's Santa!"
Little glanced over just as "Santa" held his fingers to his lips and took a long drag from a cigarette. Sigh.
Not exactly the image I wanted ingrained in Little's brain.
"A stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath."
Apparently Santa has been a smoker for years, but times certainly have changed, and the pipe smoking Santa has become politically incorrect.
It's just my feeling, that with "the suit" comes a little responsibility to behave and act in a certain way.
Because Santa, you may be "always watching", but so are the kids.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Have you ever had the pleasure of knowing someone who just seems to have been born in the wrong era? I have one such cherub in my class this year. She is the sweetest little thing. She's gentle and kind, and just a little bit flowery. She belongs back in the 60's. Her mission in life is to spread love, I'm sure of it.
She's the first one with a hug in the morning, and the last one with a hug when it's time to go home, and she's very funny and doesn't realize it.
Just before Thanksgiving, we were following our daily routine of sharing news.
Me: Flower Child, where are you going for Thanksgiving?"
Flower Child: To my grandma's house where we will dance around the turkey and sing songs!"
Me: Really? What else will you have with your turkey?
Flower Child: Well, my grandma makes excellent chili. And she makes corn bread and she puts in a special secret ingredient.
Me: She does? What's the special secret ingredient? Or is it a secret.
Flower Child: Well, it is secret, but I'll tell you. The secret ingredient is, LOVE!
Me: Of course it is!
She just spreads it where ever she goes. Love, Love, Love! She wears it on her face, she shows it in her actions!
She has a little itty bitty crush on one of the boys in my classroom. Today she asked me if she could go out to the hallway to get her folder from her back pack. A few minutes later a co-worker brought her back into my room and said she found Flower Child lying on the floor with her eyes shut. She said she bumped her head and fainted. So I called F.C. over to me.
Me: Now Flower, sweetie, did you really bump your head?
Flower: No, but I took one look at Timmy with his hair combed and I just passed out! He's sooo cute and handsome!
Me: Yes, love he is indeed handsome, now hand me your folder and go sit down in your spot.
She sat down right next to him, glanced in his direction and promptly "fainted" again.
I'm not sure where all this love is going to take her in life, but she does have a very sweet way about her. Whatever she becomes, she will be caring and considerate, she will think of others before herself, she will be patient and reflective, she will become something to help make the world a better place...
she'll probably become a teacher!
Monday, December 1, 2008
I love a good Christmas tune. I have my favorites, some happy, some joyous, some that remind me of my childhood or some that you can just bop to. I remember playing my mom's Mitch Miller Christmas album over and over again. She probably still has that album hanging around somewhere!
But some local radio stations have taken Christmas tunes to the extreme. The oldies (now playing 70's music...ugh) started playing Christmas tunes right after Halloween...yep November freakin' 1st! Jingle Bell Rock when the leaves are still orange and hanging on the trees...well, it's just not right!
Then WROR 105.7 followed just before Thanksgiving. All Christmas tunes all the time.
I'm convinced it's a marketing tool to get us all to rush to the malls happily humming Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire. Seriously people have you ever known ANYONE who has actually roasted a chestnut other than Tiny Tim???
Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone I can deal with the Christmas songs. I even choose to listen to them once in awhile. But I can't help but think of those poor radio d.j's who have to listen to Silver Bells and Feliz Navidad, over and over and over again for two solid months!
As I mentioned, I do have my favorites,
Check out Josh Groban singing O Holy Night. It is haunting and gives me chills every time I hear it. The same for Feed the World. I also love this version of Little Drummer Boy by Bing Crosby and David Bowie.
Tis the season...sing the Falalalala's loud and proud! Just don't do it before Thanksgiving!
Saturday, November 29, 2008
How I got to be a mom of a seventeen-year-old, I'll never know. I'm not nearly old enough for that kind of thing. I tell myself it's impossible because I remember being 17 so vividly myself and I know for sure I was much more grown up then than he is now!
Being a mother of a child that age has it's benefits, but it's mostly just scary.
The other night I drove hubby to the airport for his flight to Ireland, I ordered pizza for the boys and settled down for a night of on-line shopping. Little was hanging out on the couch, Middle was upstairs playing NCAA football, and the Big one took the car to go to a friend's house. He's always been pretty responsible so no worries right??? Wrong.
There I was, shopping away when the phone rang. Here's the following conversation...
Caller: "Is Mr. C there please."
Me: "No, he isn't is there something I can help you with?"
Caller: "This is the Salem Police, who is driving the Honda Accord?"
Insert instantaneous panic.
Me: "Oh my God, is everything okay? That's my son in the car".
SPD: "He was seen with a car load of kids taking flags from a front lawn. Does he have a cell phone?"
SPD: "Call him immediately and tell him to return the flags and apologize."
Me: "Okay, I'll do that right now."
Well I called him.
I'm not really sure what came out of my mouth, but I'm sure it would have looked something like this *$&##*@@!!!!!!
I hung up and was shaking. I was certain when I heard the words, "Salem Police and Honda Accord" that this was the phone call that every mother dreads. The one that begins every parent's worse nightmare. The one where they tell me, my son is the latest teen driver casualty.
Thankfully it was just the Big one being a STB! (Stupid Teenage Boy)
Needless to say, he's lost his privilege to drive for awhile and I've added a few more gray hairs and taken at least a year of my life expectancy.
He does a lot to make me proud, he's consistently on the honor roll, is a member of The National Honor Society, a varsity athlete, personable, and polite, but for a little while Wednesday night he had ZERO common sense.
STB...he just can't help it.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
I hate shopping. Wait. Let me clarify, I hate shopping at the mall. Mostly I hate the crowds. It's always too hot, I hate not knowing what to buy as I keep hoping that idea for my mother, husband, father, sister-in-law, will pop out and announce, "here I am, buy me!"
My family doesn't help me out much since most of the time when I ask, I hear, "I don't need anything, or just get me underwear."
I went to the mall yesterday afternoon with hubby and the little one. We looked around and the only thing I came out of there with was a new Coach wristlet. I had a gift card that I had yet to spend (Thanks Maria!!!) so since I was there I took the opportunity.
Back we went today and this time without kids. We are so much more productive without kids in tow. I managed to buy gifts this time, but I also squeezed in a pair of shoes for myself. Shoes are the best! You can try them on without the hassle of a dressing room, there is no guess work with sizing. If you're a 9 1/2 , you're a 9 1/2. You don't have to worry about gaining or losing weight and having them not fit. So I'm a big fan of buying shoes when you're feeling a little down. An instant pick-me-up!
The one thing I do like about shopping is the people watching.
There are the husbands hanging out on mall benches trying to be patient, mommy's pushing sleeping babies in strollers, daddies chasing toddlers who refuse to sit in strollers, teen-aged girls who wear too little even though it's 25 degrees outside, in order to attract teen-aged boys with their pants pulled down to low, who follow those girls around like drooling Pavlov's dogs.
Credit and Debit cards are flying, and cash is being passed, the parking lots are full. I know the economy is in the toilet, but you wouldn't know it.
I'm headed to the mall again tonight, but this time we're making it a girl's night out. A nice dinner at Joe's Bar and Grill, a few glasses of wine and more shopping and people watching. We'll laugh like silly teen-agers (but we'll be more appropriately dressed), and marvel at the fact that we are there...alone...without our children.
So tonight I'll buy the Christmas jammies (a yearly tradition), that underwear my husband asked for, and if I can't find anything for my mom...there's always shoes.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Banana cream pie to be exact. Little Boy has been harping on me to buy him a banana cream pie. Where he got this idea in his head is anybody's guess. Has he been watching re-runs of Gilligan's Island on Nick at Nite? Mary Ann made some good looking banana cream pies. Or were they coconut cream?
Anyway, this morning while we were in church he whispered in my ear, "Mom, when I go to Sunday School will you go to the store and buy me a banana cream pie? Dad tried to find one but I don't think he looked in the right place."
Game on. Dad couldn't come through, so I was on a mission to hunt down and fulfill the boy's banana cream dream.
When I picked him up at Sunday school the first words out of his mouth were...
"Did you get my banana cream pie? Can we go to Dunkin Donuts?"
The kid is pushing his luck.
So after lunch today I was busy helping hubby with some school work and wasn't really paying much attention to what everyone else was doing. I heard Little Boy in the kitchen. He told me he was getting himself a snack. A few minutes later I walked into the kitchen and saw this sitting on the kitchen counter...
He didn't even bother with a knife, or plate. He just dug right in. After all, it is HIS pie. Notice HALF the pie is gone! He wants me to save the other half for Thanksgiving...11 days away.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I decided to try a little experiment with the kinders today. I always have a question of the day posted outside my room. As they enter, the kids choose their names and place them under their chosen answer.
Most of the time the questions are something like, "Are you wearing anything blue today?" or "Do you have a dog?" The answers can almost always be answered with a "yes" or a "no". In the spirit of Election Day I decided to dig a little deeper.
I put up two pictures. One of Barack Obama and one of John McCain. Both were nice pictures. I didn't want to be accused of bias, and I didn't vote because I didn't want to influence the voting in any way. I wanted them to decide based solely on looks alone.
The question was, "Who do you predict will be the next president."
Here are the results...
Barack Obama 11
John McCain 6
Then I asked a few why they voted the way they did.
One said, "Barack has a big smile."
Another said, "McCain is hot." (I kid you not)
One said "I voted for Obama because John McRain (not a typo) lies and will switch around our money."
One said, "I voted for Barack because he has hair like me."
A funny little microcosm don't you agree?
Then I wanted them to think about the issues. I wasn't going to ask them about the economy, or the war in Iraq. I was tempted to ask them about No Child Left Behind, but I know I would have influenced them too much on that issue!! I wanted them to learn to weed out the lies, and look deeper!
I told them the story of The Three Little Pigs. I am a really good story teller (If I do say so myself) and I had them entranced. I explained that the story I told was from the perspective of The Pigs, where they are the heroes and the wolf is the bad guy.
After that, I read The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by A. Wolf as told to Jon Scieszka.
This version is told from the wolf's perspective. If you've never read this story, you should. It's hilarious.
After telling both stories we talked about what was the same in both versions and what was different. Then we talked about who was telling the truth. The pigs, or The wolf?!
Time for another election.
I handed them each a ballot, and instructed them to vote for either The Wolf or The Pigs.
Then I taught them how to fold their ballot so no one would see it. I explained that voting is very private and it's no one's business how you vote. I showed them how to fold it and slip it into the ballot box.
After lunch we tallied our votes.
The pigs won by a very wide margin. 15 to 1 with one abstention. (He was in the nurses office)
A landslide victory for swine everywhere!!
Thursday, October 30, 2008
How to get to Sesame Street?
I am disillusioned. The school in which I teach is located on the campus of our local college. We were invited by the music department to come and listen to a special program just for us. They performed a musical rendition of the story Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin by Lloyd Moss. It was so great. The kids got to hear each instrument that was featured in the story, then as they joined together to form an orchestra we all got to hear a little Mozart. Most of these kids will never get to see a live orchestra play, so it's nice the college invites us to these things.
As the flutist was introduced, she came on stage playing the theme song to Sesame Street. "Come and play, everything's A-okay...On my way to where the air is sweeeeettttt...". The conductor asked the kids in the audience what the song was. Not one kindergarten kid knew that song was from Sesame Street. Not one.
The following day it was pouring rain which meant indoor recess. We usually pop in a DVD on rainy days and we chose Sesame Street Halloween. Full of cute furry monsters, sure to capture their attention. Nope. Not the least bit interested.
One of my cherubs said to me,
"Mrs. C., that guy with the yellow pointy head is kinda weird."
"Do you mean Burt?"
"You know Christopher, Ernie and Burt."
"Oh, that's his name. He's weird."
He really didn't know who Burt was. What 5 year-old doesn't know Ernie and Burt?
Then I remembered a conversation I had with another child a few days earlier. He told me he thought the show Family Guy was really funny. If you've never seen this show, you know how edgy it is. Over the top edgy and completely inappropriate for a child of 13 never mind a 5 year-old.
It make me want to send out a letter.
Just because a show is animated does not mean it's appropriate for child viewing!!!
Your Child's Teacher.
I'm off now to get a good dose of Elmo's World.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
I live, play and raise my children in the community in which I work. This has it's perks. I feel like I'm really contributing to the city in which I work. I'm educating young minds, minds that have the potential to grow and make the city in which we live a better place. I can't guarantee their success, but I can set them on the right path.
It does have it's drawbacks though. Little attends second grade in the same school where I teach kindergarten. It's so convenient in so many ways, but not always easy. I hear every little thing that happens, stuff that most parents would never hear. The teachers, my friends, are pretty respectful about such things, but some children are not and it's my child who suffers. I have a hard time not feeling guilty about that, especially when his friends come up to me to tattle about a little indiscretion or about time he spent in the "thinking chair."
I find it difficult to be a regular mom when he's invited places. I'm always a bit guarded hanging around with moms of his friends. I'm careful what I say and how I say it and I can only assume they are just as careful around me.
I know a lot of kids and it's becoming increasingly more difficult to be anonymous. I'm sure it's been happening for sometime now, but I really noticed it this summer. Little, being eight, is really starting to climb the social ladder and is at that age when he's just more active in group activities. Soccer, baseball, basketball, etc. He wants to go places, no longer content with just playing in the backyard for long periods of time, so this summer we were out and about a lot more. Sometimes it's fine, sometimes uncomfortable, like at the city pool this summer. Saying hello to my students while wearing a bathing suit is a little bit odd. I can't quiet explain why, it just is.
I see kids I know in the grocery store, at the bank, at community events, at McDonald's and this morning in church. We were a minute or two late, so we tried to make an inconspicuous entrance, that is until one of my students said just a little too loudly, "hi Mrs. C!" So much for inconspicuous.
When I think about it though, I am proud of what I do and the fact of the matter is, if I wasn't good at it, what kid would bother to even say hello. If I wasn't nice, or hadn't earned their trust would they want to say hello? Of course not.
They want to say hello because I'm nice to them, I'm safe. They know I'll give them the time of day and I'll be genuine when I say ask how they are or if they're having fun.
So I may not be anonymous, but I'll happily go about my business in and around town and know that I'm doing a good job, just because a little kid said "hello".
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
And not just any baseball. Red Sox Baseball, and for another week or so, still the World Champion Boston Red Sox.
I am a fan. The word fan of course is derived from the word fanatic. The dictionary definition: A person filled with excessive interest in and enthusiasm for something, especially an activity: a baseball fanatic.
That sums me up pretty nicely I'd say.
I love them. I have 25 pretend boyfriends. I still miss Nomar, I think Manny is a jerk, I know how to spell Yazstremski. I've eaten at Remdawgs. I've shaken hands with Jason Varitek, my son has worn Luis Tiant's World Series Ring. My name is written on the Pesky Pole, I sing Sweet Caroline just because, and I love that Dirty Water, I think the Drop Kick Murphys Rock. I know who Tessie is and did I mention I still miss Nomah? But, the number one thing that identifies me as a Sox fan? I HATE the yankees. (Notice the non-capitalization of the word yankee. It may be a proper noun, but they are far from proper).
I'm disappointed about the loss my team endured at the hands of the upstart Rays, but I do have to admit they are a pretty good story. Dead last last season, and now competing for the title.
Although I am disappointed, I'm not sad. If it had been a loss to the yankees, I would have been out of commission for a good week. There is just something about losing to that team from the Bronx that kills my spirit. There are just too many painful instances, 2003 being the most recent. It took me a long time to get over Aaron F. Boone and his stupid home run. It still makes me ill to think about it.
But that's water under the Tobin Bridge.
There is no doubt anymore that they really do suck.
I worry sometimes where my hatred of all things yankee takes me. It's unhealthy.
If I'm in a store and I see yankees jerseys or t-shirts, I will find a Red Sox jersey to put over them. I have taken yankees hats off shelves and placed them on the floor. When I see someone wearing a yankees cap, I have to hold myself back from flicking it off their head.
Today I was listening in on a conversation two of my kinder kids were having. One said to the other, "the yankees always win and the Red Sox always lose." I was on that like mustard on a hot dog.
"Kevin love, you have that all wrong. The yankees are actually the big giant losers. They have this guy on their team called Alex Rodriguez, you may have heard of him Kevin. His nickname is A-Fraud. This guy A-Fraud, never comes through when his team needs him most. It's actually very sad little misguided Kevin. You should support a real team little Kevy. One with a good work ethic, one with players they refer to as dirt dogs. That's right cute little Kevin, Red Sox. Repeat after me, R-E-D S-O-X. They're ya go!"
Okay, that's not exactly how I handled that, but rest assured it was handled!
I can't control much in this life, but my classroom is and will remain yankee fan free.
Rest Well Boys, we'll see you in the Spring.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
As I sat today freezing on the sidelines of yet another soccer Sunday, it hit me. There are lessons to be learned here and I'm not talking strictly soccer.
The first thing I learned, and I've actually known this for awhile, soccer should not be played past September 30th and not before May 1st. It's just too cold. Men have found a way around this by creating indoor soccer for the winter months. Not much warmer. Typically indoor soccer games are played in big old hockey rinks or in our case, horse pull arenas at the local fair grounds. Both cold places. One smells like sweaty hockey players, the other like sweaty horses. Neither are heated nearly enough to be comfortable in February, but at least there's no wind. Soccer is a sport for shorts and t-shirts, not layers.
The second thing I learned today is, the mayor can be a regular mom when she's at the soccer field. She volunteers in the concession stand, chases after lost water bottles and can dress down in jeans, sneakers and a barn coat. My 8 year-old was very impressed that the mayor took time out of her busy, city-running- schedule to cook him a hot dog.
As I sat there in my captain's chair, wearing 3 layers and wrapped in a blanket, I came to another realization. Coaching 8-year-old soccer is not much different than teaching kindergarten. It's all about classroom management. I manage my flock in the confined area of the classroom, hubby manages his flock on a field where the only boundary is an orange line. I can't help but be impressed that he manages to keep those little boys all together within that orange line.
The lessons he teaches aren't academic ones, but lessons for life.
He teaches them to be team players. How to be there to receive the ball when your friend needs help, and he teaches them to give up control of the ball when you run into trouble. Everyone needs to learn to give and ask for help.
He teaches them to deal with life's disappointments, because we can't always be the winner. And he teaches them how to give credit where credit is due because everyone needs to hear "good game" now and then.
He teaches them that it's okay to shake hands at the end of the game even though "I might get germs on my hand" and that it's okay to take a break because " Dad, my spleen hurts."
Hubby is just like me, the sheep dog herding the flock, imparting knowledge upon them, all while having a good time.
Soccer, Kindergarten it's all good.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Not only do I live in a tourist town, which by the way is particularly "interesting" this time of year, I also live in a college town. This has it's advantages and also it's disadvantages.
I love the whole collegiate atmosphere, watching students of all ages walking through campus and on the surrounding sidewalks and streets. It's convenient for my husband who is taking classes there, we can catch NCAA sporting events on a regular basis, we can skate at the rink and can swim in the pool.
The school where I teach kindergarten is located on campus, I eat lunch purchased in the college's food court, I host student teachers in my classroom and I've been a guest speaker in their classes. Not only do I work on campus, I practically live on campus too.
In the winter when the leaves have fallen I can see the dorms located behind my house. Despite their close proximity we rarely hear any noise and if we do it's usually in early September when the students are just coming back or in May when they are getting ready to leave after a hard year at work. It doesn't really bother me, and in fact I sometimes get little pangs of envy! For the most part they are pretty well behaved but occasionally there is an exception. Thursday night was the exception.
There was a function of some kind in one of the buildings behind my house. Police bull horns were barking out orders and I could hear crowd noises that were getting progressively louder as people were being moved up the street and closer to my house. I could hear sirens and then three fire trucks pulled into the parking lot. I could hear a distant fire alarm and just assumed someone had burned the microwave popcorn again.
Suddenly the voices changed. They were angry now and when my husband and I looked out the window there was a good 30 people in each others faces in the middle of the street. I didn't see any punches thrown, but things were escalating in the wrong direction and it was easy to see that things were going to get out of hand very quickly. Hubby picked up the phone and dialed 911 and was told officers were already on the way.
My husband, who sometimes sees himself as the protector of the neighborhood, stood out on the front porch all official like, ready to defend his family and worldly possessions. He scared the crap out of me. This was not your typical college crowd. It was loud, and angry and it was easy to see that they weren't going to tolerate much from anyone.
I pleaded with him to stay inside and let the police who were "already on the way", handle it. I didn't need to be a widowed mother of three!
Thankfully as soon as the policed showed up the crowd scattered both on foot and in cars.
This is the second time something like this has happened. Last year it resulted in a stabbing.
Wouldn't anyone with any kind of intelligence see that two consecutive years with problems at this event is enough to stop holding said event?
Rarely am I scared by these things, but this was scary and it's not even Halloween yet!
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Believe it or not, that little rule is a necessary one.
No kissing in kindergarten and no weddings until 2nd grade.
I have a kissy girl in my class. She loves the boys. She's a hand holder and a vixen! It's for her this rule is in effect and has to be reinforced everyday.
No kissing in kindergarten.
Up until today I never actually saw the rule being broken, just a lot of
"Mrs. C, Dora (not her real name) tried to kiss me."
"Mrs. C, Dora kissed my hand."
"Mrs. C, Dora is puckering her lips at me and making weird noises!"
Mostly I just send them to the tattle jar for things like this, but today, I actually witnessed "The Kisser" in action.
It was right after lunch. I'm sure she thought I wasn't paying attention as I was herding the little lambs into the circle. She was so innocently sitting next to Timmy (also not his real name) when I saw her whisper something in his ear, followed by the pucker, then the ever so subtle lining up of the lips and SMACK! It happened.
I gasped! They jumped!
Timmy turned red and immediately began to sob. Caught-in-the-act!
Dora had a sly little smirk on her face.
Poor Timmy, yet another victim of ..."The Kisser!"
I pointed my finger at the two lip smackers and wiggled it at them in that "come here" teacher way. I sat down so I was eye to eye with the slobbery duo. Timmy continued to cry, Dora continued to smile.
I calmly (while trying to hold in the chuckle) explained about germs and what not. Timmy sobbed louder... and... louder...and... louder.
"Timmy what's the matter? No one is angry with you, I just want to explain about the kissing rule. I think you both understand better now, go back to your seat.
I sent Timmy to get a drink to collect himself but he clearly was not himself for the rest of the afternoon. He didn't even want to play during the much anticipated "choice time".
He finally came to me, and asked,
"Mrs. C, can I go to the nurse?"
"I think you're just fine Timmy, why do you want to go to the nurse?"
"It's Dora's germs, I think they're making me SICK!"
I was instantaneously reminded of 8th grade when I attended my first make out party. I was afraid to kiss Tommy Goodwin because I was convinced I was going to get mono.
I've ruined Timmy. He'll never want to kiss another girl as long as he lives.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Monday, October 6, 2008
Today we got out of Dodge and took the kids on their first field trip. We made our annual trek to the Topsfield Fair. We stayed far away from the midway with it's noise and sketchy characters. No rides, no games, no fun! Fine with me who says field trips are supposed to be fun?
Most of the kids were fine with this little rule, but the draw was big and it was hard to resist but we persevered.
For us grownups, it was avoiding the food that was difficult. It hits you the second you walk through the main gate. Cider dounuts, roasted nuts, fried dough, FRENCH FRIES. Is there anything better fair food than FRENCH FRIES with salt and vinegar? The pull of the aromas was great, but we somehow managed to move on to the farm exhibits.
It doesn't take long to realize what kids find fascinating about farm animals. Poop. We ran into poop not 100 feet into the grounds. A enormous Clydesdale was being led into into it's pen when it let loose. Clydesdale poop is HUGE and it didn't go unnoticed.
Poop smells. There is no getting around it. Farm animals are smelly. Some smellier than others. The smelliest. Sheep. Go figure. They don't even have the biggest poop, but when we walked into the sheep barn the smell nearly knocked me over. Funny thing is, after awhile you don't even notice the smell. That's when you know it's time to move on.
The cows. I love cows. Cows poop, but the smell doesn't bother me. I almost find it pleasant. There is something so peaceful and gentle about a cow. I have a special fondness for cows and I think I know where it comes from.
I'm a city girl now, but I was a country girl growing up. I spent my summers frolicking in the country. Every Labor Day weekend I'd spend time with my friends at the Woodstock Fair in Connecticut. Part of that time I would spend in the cow barn hanging out with Bambi. Bambi had those big giant cow eyes and I'm not sure if my fondness of cows comes from knowing Bambi or having a crush on Bambi's owner, the cute boy who lived down the hill, who coincidentally had big brown eyes of his own!
The one thing at the fair that never ceases to amaze me is the giant pumpkin. This is not your everyday shiny big round pumpkin. This thing isn't even round. This year's winner weighs over 1400 lbs. That's a lot of pie!
Some of the funnier conversations I had with my kids today...
"Mrs. C do chicken nuggets come from chickens?"
"Yes, they do, but don't say that too loud in here, you might upset them."
"Mrs. C. where does the poop come out of the chicken."
"Somewhere near his bottom."
"But where's the hole."
"I'm not sure, under the feathers I think."
"Can you move the feathers so I can see?"
"Mrs. C. where are the bunny's eggs."
"Bunnies don't lay eggs."
"Yes they do. Colored ones."
By far my favorite farm animal was the Alpaca. They poop too but these are nearly as cute as a puppy, they actually look like they smile and I want one. He can live in my back yard. I can brush him, give him colorful bandanas to wear and use his hair to spin yarn and make mittens and sweaters for me and my entire family because I'm crafty like that.
Monday, September 29, 2008
I have 16 children in my class.
10 of them are boys.
6 of them are girls.
2 were late for school.
3 hadn't eaten breakfast.
1 forgot his snack.
sent 1 to the nurse.
tied 17 shoe laces.
stuck straws into 3 juice boxes.
put 32 stickers on papers.
zipped up 3 jackets.
cleaned up 2 spills.
broke up 1 fight.
sent 1 note home to a mom
put in 3 book orders
fixed 1 pony tail
sent 5 to the thinking chair
fixed 1 computer issue.
ate 1 turkey sandwich and 1 apple very quickly
went to the bathroom 1 time.
put 10 kids on buses home
walked 5 out to meet their grown ups
and took 1 very long sigh of relief!
Sunday, September 28, 2008
"Sometimes the questions are complicated but the answers are simple." -Dr. Seuss
While sitting in church this morning, my eight year-old asked me a question. He wanted to know what the money is for that we put into the collection basket each week. I gave him the quick simple answer. "They use it to pay for the electricity." With a quick nod he let me know I had given him all the answer he needed.
I distinctly remember asking my mom or dad (that part of the memory is fuzzy) the same question when I was little. And I distinctly remember the answer they gave me. "They use it to buy diapers for baby Jesus." I was pretty little at the time, maybe only two or three, but I will never forget that. It was a sweet answer, obviously not the truth, but it was all I needed.
I have learned over time that children can ask some pretty deep questions. And sometimes we want to give them really long answers when all they are really looking for is a little reassurance.
I don't know why the answer my parents gave me has stayed with me for so long. It's just a little moment in a childhood full of memories but the point is that it did stay with me.
The things we say as parents and teachers make an undeniable impression on children. Hopefully they remember the good things, but there are times when I've said things to my children that I hope they will forget. Things said out of anger, or when I just wasn't thinking. They are observers of our behavior.
I was reminded earlier this week how impressionable children can be when a mother of one of my former students stuck her head in my room to tell me that her daughter said, "I wish I was back in Mrs. Kindergarten's class again."
I smiled and thanked her. This little girl and I had a rough year together. We had a lot of behavior issues that had to be addressed, she tried my patience on a daily basis and it was necessary for me to be "tough" on her. So I was really surprised when her mom relayed her daughter's sentiments.
My co-worker happened to be in the room for that exchange and she reminded me that I should feel really good about what she said. She told me, "you made an impression on that little girl because you gave her boundries, you were patient with her and you were nice to her and you made her feel loved."
My perceptions of the year I had with her weren't at all the same, but it isn't my perceptions that mattered here, but hers, and I'm proud of that.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Warning: Political diatribe to follow.My family has turned against me. I'm not talking about my husband and children, but my family of origin. My mother and brother have become...REPUBLICANS! I don't know when this occurred and I really have no explanation as to how this happened.
A little back history. My brother and I grew up in a single parent household. My mom struggled financially and probably had to have some help paying for our educations and other expenses, but despite the struggles I'm sure she had, my mother did an excellent job because we turned out pretty well. We are employed, have nice homes, nice families that we can support, and we are generally pretty nice people. We never wanted for anything as kids and I'm sure she went without a few luxuries herself so my brother and I would never feel the struggle. We both had wonderful childhoods and I thank her for that.
We grew up in a small, very blue collar town in Massachusetts. You know Massachusetts. The land of the Kennedys and of Camelot. Democrat central, but something has gone terribly wrong and I don't know how to fix it!
I can kind of understand where my mom is coming from. I think as people grow older they become more conservative. It just happens.
But my brother? I don't get it.
He has young children. One of whom attends public high school. Like me, he is not independently wealthy and he and my sister-in-law work hard for the things they have. If someone was on the outside looking in he would fit the perfect profile of a typical Democrat. He takes pleasure in bombarding me with McCain/Palin propaganda. He's got McCain plastered all over his facebook profile. He throws McCain at me, his profile picture shows him holding a McCain lawn sign and he's constantly sending me "flair" with some McCain slogan written on it, which by the way, is a complete waste of time because that "flair" is going no where near my profile!
I suppose he enjoys paying close to $4.00 a gallon for gas, and will enjoy paying around $600.00 more dollars for home heating oil this winter than he did last winter.
I suppose when it's time for his first born to go to college in four years, he'll enjoy receiving the "no money for you" letters when applying for student loans and grants.
I suppose he enjoys the fact that our Republican administration is currently spending $410 MILLION dollars per day on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
That's a lot of dollars that could have been spent on say...education. That money could have provided 80 MILLION young Americans with scholarships to fund their college educations.
I know I'm not going to change his mind just as he's not going to change mine. I guess we just have different priorities.
My entire family either works in or attends public schools. Based on that fact alone, I just can't support the Republican ticket. There are many other reasons, but that is first and foremost. It's my job as a parent and it's my job as an advocate for young children.
When it comes down to it, we all vote for the candidate we feel is the best to accomplish what is important to each one of us. The important thing is that we vote. Because Republican, Democrat or Independent, we are all Americans and we have the right.
Friday, September 26, 2008
I'm pretty sure I don't have to tell you my five loyal blog readers how important parental involvement is to a child's school achievement.
I've had years where I've had very involved parents who come to social events, parent conferences, and open houses and then I've had years when I meet a parent briefly on the first day of school and then don't see them again.
There have been countless studies done on the subject, but I can tell what kind of involvement year I'll have based purely on a child's behavior in the classroom.
This year's class of kids is as cute as ever. They are funny, and bright and all have huge potential, but they are not the best behaved children. I am working on that and I'm confident that I'll have them on the straight and narrow by January.
Last night was open house at our school. Out of 15 families (I have one set of twins) only 5 parents attended.
I'm not blaming the parents necessarily. Although, I do think that in certain cases some could make a better effort, but I truly believe there are other forces at work here.
Our school's population is currently 52% free and reduced lunch. Over half our population is considered below the poverty line. Parent's can not take time off from work to attend school functions for fear of losing their jobs or having less in their pay checks due to hours spent away from work. We can blame are "wonderful" economy for that. (Vote people!!!!)
I know most are doing the best they can. Schedules and the cost of baby sitters do not always allow parents to attend school functions. But it's easy to see how trends can continue. If children aren't shown the value of education they will never know the value of an education. Parents who are well informed and take an interest in their child's learning are improving their child's chances of success. A parent is a child's first teacher and we are partners in the business of education and inspiration!
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
I'm pretty sure this year is going to be one of those years. The kind of year when you can't give them an inch. The kind of year where you can't turn your back for a second. It's not that they are "naughty", they're just suffering from a case of "the wiggles". They are very young, talkative, competitive and edgy, and they are tattlers. I'm pretty patient about most things, but the tattling? It puts me over the edge.
"Mrs. Teacher, Timmy called me poo poo head."
"Mrs. Teacher, Suzie dropped her pencil."
"Mrs. Teacher, Prudence has wood chips in her pocket."
"Mrs. Teacher, Fred picked his nose and ate it."
I sat them all down the other day and gave them the "tattle talk." We talked about when it's okay to tell and when it's just telling to get someone into trouble.
Someone is standing on a table? Tell.
Someone punching you? Tell.
Someone choking, bleeding, throwing up? Tell.
Picking nose? Tattling.
Woodchips in pocket? Tattling.
Timmy is a poo poo head? Definitely Tattling.
They seemed to get it. I was sure they got it. But here we are Tuesday, Week 3 and they are right back at it. So I had to break out "The Tattle Jar."
What is the The Tattle Jar you ask?
Well, it's a big plastic jar. You know, like the kind pretzels come in at B.J.'s or Costco. I have a cute little label on it and I leave it on a shelf within reach of even the shortest of my kids.
When someone comes to me to tattle I ask, "Is someone hurting you?"" Is someone doing something dangerous?" "Does someone need an ambulance???". If they answer "no" to any of those questions I simply hold up my hand and say, "Tattle Jar."
That's where the tattles go.
They put their little faces into the jar and tell their tattles there.
I told them, (and you can only get away with this kind of stuff in kindergarten) "after everyone goes home and it's really quiet in the room I put my ear in the jar and I can hear all your tattles."
I don't know why it works, but it does, and eventually I don't even have to question them, they just automatically go to The Jar.
I really should market these. Find a need and fill it. I could make a fortune. I could retire early. But then who would be there to stick their ear in the jar and listen. Just listen.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
We have been a one car family since last January. I don't really know how we managed but we did. It required a little extra walking and a little extra juggling and occasionally asking for a ride or two but it worked. It was easier during the summer since all of us in our house are either teachers or students we really never HAD to go anywhere and when we did, we figured it out.
It was great to save a little money when gas prices were at an all time high this summer and we saved on insurance too.
However, now that school has started and we are all going in different directions again, and we now have a third driver in the family, (God help me!) a second car has become a necessity again. So off Mr. Dad and I went to car shop.
I hate car shopping. I hate the uncomfortableness of it, the haggling, the negotiating, the feeling as if you're being ripped off, and the uncomfortable pause between the close of the deal and the final hand shake. I'm not good at the negotiating because I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. Stupid, I know.
One of the requirements of our new car was a big trunk for trucking around all the soccer equipment that belongs to our family. Bags and bags of it. Cones, soccer balls, pinnies and water bottles. It all goes in the trunk.
I want my trunk back! I want the smelly soccer stuff out of my car!
So we picked one out for a test drive, took it for a little spin along the shore. Drove nice, no weird noises, nice smell, and spotless, low mileage, good warrantee.
So Mr. Friendly car dealer shows us all around the car. All the little features and gadgets. He opened the trunk, and the words out of my mouth were...
"Look! It's big enough for your balls!"
We're bringing the new baby home tomorrow.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Everyday after lunch I go out to the playground to collect my ducklings. Most of the time they are waiting in line for me, but occasionally there is a straggler or two. When I arrive I prepare myself for the playground paraprofessional because inevitably I'm going to hear about some injury or some less than desirable behavior.
Today I heard both. One little girl fell off the climbing structure and was sobbing, all blotchy and red. Then I heard that some of my kids had been yelling into the art room windows. The art room is in the basement and the windows are playground level so the kids can easily peek in. Not only did I hear the bad news from the playground aids, but the art teacher stopped me on the way up the stairs. I asked her what they were yelling. "Stupid kids" and "The F word", was her reply.
"The F word?" I asked, shocked.
"No, the actual words, "The Eff Word."
Kindergarteners obviously have yet to learn the fine art of dropping the f-bomb.
Nobody was really sure who was doing the yelling but I have my ways. Bwahahahaha!
And no, it does not involve a metal chair and a lone light bulb hanging from the ceiling.
I seem to have the power to make children feel guilty with merely the sound of my "teacher voice."
So I marched my ducklings up the stairs and sat them in their circle. I called the nurse for my sobbing blotchy girl who upon hearing that the nurse was on her way down asked, "Is she going to kill me?" (This is the same girl who yelled "We are all going to die!" during our fire drill.)
Once that was taken care of I set upon the task of finding my guilty party.
"Children we have a big problem, it seems that some of you were yelling into the art room windows."
"Why do you think this is not a nice thing to do?" I looked around and noticed Timmy (name changed to protect the obviously guilty) whose bottom lip is starting to quiver. Tears began to roll down is cherubic cheeks. "It was me Mrs. Kindergarten! It was me!"
Those movie police interrogators have nothing on me.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
I heard a great story during lunch today. My fellow kindergarten teacher across the hall had her kids writing the alphabet in their journals.
One little boy who was puzzled asked, "How do you write the letter 'emmeno'."
"What letter?" she asked.
"Oh! No it's actually three letters, M, N, O."
"No, N goes at the end, you know Y N Z."
Isn't that the best?
My kids were particularly chatty today. Must be the after effects of the full moon. Ask any teacher they'll tell you there really is something to this full moon thing. It slowly starts to build two or three days before and settles down two or three days later.
The tides rise and fall to the pull of the moon, the noise level in my classroom rises and falls to the pull of the moon.
There are more 911 calls during the full moon than other time, more babies are born during full moons, there are more traffic accidents when there is a full moon and there are the payout rates at casinos are higher during a full moon.
I'm not sure who studies all this stuff, but they could have saved themselves a whole lot of time by peeking into any classroom across the country and know there is something to this looney lunar theory.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Part of our school's Responsive Classroom philosophy involves creating classroom rules. Basically the theory behind this is if children take part in creating the rules they will be more vested in following them. So we started brainstorming today and as they fired off rules, I wrote them down. Here's our list...
My favorites are
- No Kissing
- No stepping out of line. (Literally and figuratively!!)
- No touching bees (because those suckers can hurt)
- No beating up (especially the teacher)
- Don't wet the floor
- No pulling wires on computers
Friday, September 12, 2008
There is a first time for everything and I can safely say this week was the first time I ever stood at one of these...
I have found through my experiences working with newbie kindergarteners that as the adult you must model everything. I mean EVERYTHING. From sitting in a circle with hands on your lap, walking in line, opening a milk carton, how to shake hands, push in a chair, greet the principal, pack a back pack and yes, use the bathroom. We've had some first week bathroom issues so I thought I better nip this in the bud, or butt. (pun very much intended)
I brought my ducklings down to the bathroom. I had help in the classroom that day so I took the opportunity to model proper bathroom etiquette. After waiting for the big kids to clear out I left the girls with the para, lined up the kindergarten boy ducklings and marched them ever so confidently into the boys bathroom. I lined them up facing the row of urinals.
"Now boys, these are called urinals. You are all so lucky because the girls don't have these in their bathroom. Girls have to sit down to go to the bathroom, you get to stand up!"
Ten little boys looking at me like I was nuts.
"Now, when you go pee, you don't need to pull your pants all the way down to your ankles, because if you do, what is sticking out?" Insert uncomfortable pause. "Your bottom, your bottom is sticking out and do you really want everyone to see your bottom? Ten little boys shaking their heads in unison.
All you have to do is pull your pants down far enough to bring out your, your, your...whatever you do Lisa, whatever you do don't say 'penis' they will erupt in fits of uncontrollable laughter, don't say it, don't do it!!!!
...your PARTS! Yes! your parts, go pee, then pull up your pants, don't forget to flush!" Go to the sink, use two squirts of soap, three pulls on the paper towels and out of the bathroom. The bathroom is a germy place boys and no place to play! Pee, Wash, Out! Repeat after me, Pee, Wash, Out!
Great job! Does anyone have any questions?
Little short duckling raises hand.
Yes Little Short Duckling?
"What do we do if we have to poop?"
"Now boys, these are called stalls..."
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
One of the hardest things to do the first week of kindergarten is to teach a classroom full of kids how to walk in line with some semblance of order. I try all the tricks, a hair stare line, a lollipop line, hips and lips, I model, model, model! Sometimes they catch on quickly, sometimes they don't. I'm thinking this is a "don't" year. I have a class of wanderers.
Today we had a fire drill where walking in line is really really important. The trick is to keep them together and quiet, while trying to reassure them that it's only noise and not a real fire. One little girl yelled, "we're all going to die!" Try to calm THAT down and not laugh at the same time.
I could have used a few of these for my little lambs...
It's going to take some work, some practice and some serious diligence and patience on my part, but I am confident and determined that I will go from this..
Monday, September 8, 2008
One hundred seventy-six more to go. School days that is. Starts With an X left a comment on my last post that gave me an idea. She wondered what Obama and McCain said as kindergarteners. It got me thinking so I googled.
This is what I found...
"Iis Darmawan, 63, Obama's kindergarten teacher, remembers him as an exceptionally tall and curly haired child who quickly picked up the local language and had sharp math skills. 'He wrote as essay titled, I Want to Become President " the teacher said."
I say he wins just because he's writing essays in kindergarten and he can predict the future.
I'm not saying Ms. Darmawan is stretching the truth a bit, but let's examine what I observed in kindergarten today.
One little guy cried not wanting to leave mommy. Three mommies cried not wanting to leave their kids. Three (kids, not mommies) can not write their names. None can tie their own shoes or stick a straw in their own juice boxes.
Four still draw people like this...
And not a single one wrote an essay. Not one.
At least not yet.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
I spent the last week getting my classroom ready for 16 new kindergarteners. I cleaned and scrubbed, scraped old glue off the tables, filled cups with crayons, sharpened pencils and made everything look shiny, pretty and inviting. I was motivated but it didn't help that it was 90 degrees and our comfortable old building has no air conditioning, but I kept at it.
Last week was also kindergarten screening week. That is an adventure, and I mean that in a good way.
I love meeting the new kids. They seem so small and well, babyish compared to the ones I sent on their way back in June. They seem like a nice little bunch. No separation issues at least so far, and they are so darn cute and say the funniest things.
One little girl put out her hand for me to shake and said, "Wow, you're beautiful." (Think she's getting an "A"??). Another little boy told one of my co-workers, "you remind me of my fish." (I'm beautiful, she's a fish...she's never living that down.) One told me he has 4 girlfriends at preschool and he plans on collecting a few more, another, when asked "what do you do when you walk into a dark room" replied, "I don't know, you tell me." (T-R-O-U-B-L-E).
I also had the chance to go up to first grade to observe a Responsive Classroom lesson. Responsive Classroom is a philosophy we subscribe to at our school. It's based on the theory that the social curriculum is as important as the academic one. One of the first grade teachers is a guru on the subject so it was fun to watch her give the lesson, but mostly it was fun to visit with some of last year's little guys. They are all so familiar to me, and it made me miss them. I wondered as I watched them, if I am possibly going to be able to love this new bunch as much as I love these guys.
I also realized that we kindergarten teachers do all the hard work so the first grade teachers can reap the benefits of a well-behaved, able to sit-still-in-a-circle, line-up and walk-quietly through-the-hallway-kid!
So Monday is officially THE day, and I'm about to get really busy and really tired, so my blogging time is going to go way down hill. Not a lot of time to write and not a lot of time to read all those blogs I've gotten so attached to over the summer. I am determined to post about my kindergarten adventures this year, after all I wouldn't want to disappoint all 4 of my loyal readers.
On another note...
Today is my birthday. My family is taking me out to dinner. I told my kids all I wanted for my birthday was for them to get along all day and not fight. We'll see how that goes.
I got a birthday card from my best friend the other day. She sent a lovely card and put a little note in in about how we need to get together. It's really sad that we don't, but I guess life gets in the way. At the bottom of the card she wrote, "can you believe we are middle-aged?"