Thursday, October 30, 2008

Can You Tell Me How to Get

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?"
"Who's 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.
Dear Parents,
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

On being Anonymous

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

B is for Baseball

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

Lessons from the Soccer Field

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

C is for College

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

No Kissing in Kindergarten!

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. 

Yeah, right.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Monday, October 6, 2008

F is for Field Trip

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." 

City kids.
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.  

City girl.