Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Little Levity

Here's a joke from The Pony. Notice that it involves his four-legged friends.

A baby horse looked up at her mom and said, "Mommy, why is my name Rose?"
The mama horse replied, "Because just after you were born, a rose fell on your head."

A second baby horse looked up at her mom, and said, "Mommy, why is my name Daisy?"
The mama horse replied, "Because just after you were born, a daisy fell on your head."

A third baby horse looked up at his mom, and said, "Bwoienahhoeiarhregh?"
The mama horse replied, "Shut up, Cinderblock!"

OR, for the adult politically incorrect version...

An Indian child asked his father, "Why am I called Running Deer?"
The father replied, "When I looked out of the teepee after you were born, the first thing I saw was a running deer."

A second Indian child asked his father, "Why am I called Soaring Eagle?"
The father replied, "When I looked out of the teepee after you were born, the first thing I saw was a soaring eagle."

A third Indian child asked his father, "How did I get MY name?"
The father replied, "Why you ask, Two Dogs F*cking?"

Thank you. I'll be here all week.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Tap Tap Tapping At My Classroom Door

Rounding out the trifecta of Students Out of Control, we have the Sneaker. This event occurred last Friday. If I hadn't already used two write-up slips in the two previous days, this little episode would have earned one as well. But we all must be careful in crying WOLF too often, lest nobody heed our screams when our sanity is on the line.

Sneaker started off the class period by darting out the classroom door just before the tardy bell, mumbling out the side of her mouth, "I'm going to the bathroom." Normally, the procedure is to ASK, and then be granted permission. This way, class is not disrupted later, and the student does not get a tardy UNLESS this is a daily occurrence, or the student has been lolling about the classroom for a while before asking just at the bell.

When Sneaker re-entered the classroom, she blurted out threats to students who were minding their own business and listening to Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. So Sneaker was dealt with in the form of a lecture about her being the one to always stir everybody up for no reason, and how she needs to understand that other people are allowed to speak freely and breathe the same air as she does. That led to another lecture on how she can stare hatefully at me, but I can do the same thing right back at her. (Insert hateful stare here).

Sneaker calmed down a bit, meaning that she stopped breathing fire out her nose and did her assignment. Towards the end of the class period, as I was grading their papers, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that Sneaker and two cronies were standing near the door, looking at the bulletin board. I did not begrudge them this freedom, as it was Reading Day, meaning the schedule was all wonky, and there is a list of bell times for the alternate schedule on the bulletin board.

Oh, but Sneaker was tap tap tapping something on the aluminum frame of the bulletin board. You know that tap. It's the "Notice me, notice me, say something so I can say something back, notice me, notice me, I'm being really bad" tap. I refused to take the bait. The bell rang for lunch, and the students went out the door. I finished recording grades, and went to lunch.

When we came back from lunch, I shouldered my way past the funny boys who KNOW I'm at lunch with them, sitting at the very next table, who rush to my room to stand and wait for me to walk down the hall and unlock it. The Vegetator said, "It smells like my freezer in here!" Which normally would make me retch, because usually my room smells like a mixture of old farts and stale cigarette smoke. But this time it smelled COLD. That's because it was 68 freakin' degrees in there.

Somebody had knocked my thermostat down four degrees just before lunch. Don't think I didn't know who it was. But to put on a good show, I looked at The Vegetator. "Looks like somebody changed my thermostat. What do you know about THAT?" He looked startled. "It wasn't me this time. I swear!" I looked at the other boy who is also in my class 3rd hour. "Swastikator...?" He also denied it. I believed him. He did not get that smirk that he gets when I question him about drawing swastikas on one of my calculators.

I stood in the hall and waited for Sneaker. She came stomping down the hall, as is her way. She could make Michael Caine cry, what with being 10 to the eightieth power less couth than Gracie Hart in Miss Congeniality. As she entered hearing range, I asked, "Why did you lower my thermostat? You know that you're not supposed to touch something like that." Of course she hemmed and hawed. "Uh. What?" I was happy to repeat my question, never letting my gaze waver. She knew her goose was cooked. "I don't know why. I was tapping my quarter on the wall, and I guess, maybe, it bounced over and hit the thermostat." Indeed. It bounced sideways three feet and bounced off the 'down' arrow of the thermostat four times. Uh huh.

She got the lecture on how that was a serious offense, and deserved a write-up, and I was going to have to think long and hard about her behavior and discuss it with Mr. Principal. The wind went out of her sails then, and she acted like a 'normal' ninth-grader for the rest of the class period.

Sneaker has no idea how close she was to being furloughed to Basementia for a few days.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Who's Really In Charge Here

Yes, some of the students have declared all-out war on school rules. What has given them this idea that they are above the law? Certainly not Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

Let's take a look at Example 2. This was on Thursday, the day after the 15-minute visit to the library 'on the way to the bathroom' during a test. It was a different class. A class which stretches the limits of the student discipline policy, the limits of common decency, and the limits of common sense.

It was the day after a test. A test on cells and mitosis. A test of 30 questions, composed of multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, and a diagram of cell stages to explain. Plus, they could use any graded papers that were handed back. I'm not trying to find a cancer curer in this group.

The Victim did not finish his test on Wednesday, despite sideward glances at his seatmate's paper. There's a reason I make my seating chart with with A students next to A students, D students next to D students, etc. There were three students who did not finish, and one student who was absent. Those four were given the test on Thursday. The rest of the class had an assignment to read Science World magazine. We read it together, because if I just passed it out and said to read it, they would hide behind ginormous purses and backpacks, trying to text, pretending to be reading. So I call for the desks to be cleared, hands on the desk, following along while I read. Some classes will volunteer to take turns, but this one does not.

So in this class on Thursday, it is quieter than a normal day. I am the only one speaking. They know from experience that if they talk, they get a written assignment instead a peaceful day absorbing current scientific headlines. Four of them are taking the test. One of them complains. Guess which one. You got it. The Victim.

The Victim can not stand the spotlight to be off of him for an entire class period. About 10 minutes into class, he says, "Can I go take this somewhere else?" Of course the answer was 'No'. To begin with, the library was full of the book fair. Secondly, The Victim is the one always talking and making other kids unable to concentrate. I saw no reason to play into his victimhood by allowing him out the classroom. He has never had any issues with not being able to concentrate during the first three quarters. None of the others had a problem. The majority of the class was done in ONE DAY as expected. It's not like this was the bar exam. The Victim was just playing the game of 'Who's Really In Charge Here.' And that has to be Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

I explained that the library was full, and that Mr. Principal does not like people sitting in the hall. To which Client agreed, "Yeah. Mrs. NotACook put ME in the hall, and next thing you know, Mr. Principal saw me on the camera, and called me to the office to see what I did!"

The Victim kept complaining. I told him I was sorry that he couldn't concentrate, but that his arguing was making the other three testees (heh, heh, I said 'testees') unable to concentrate. He had two choices: he could finish his test, or hand it in if he was unable to finish. From there, The Victim started a rant about how I was telling him to give up, and no teacher had ever told him to give up, and maybe he would just quit school altogether. Typical attention-seeking blather. The Victim also asked to talk to Mr. Principal. I told him, "After class." He worked on his test a few minutes. He put it on my desk. He mumbled to the people around him. He took back his test. He mumbled some more. He jumped up and announced, "I'm going to see the Principal!" and walked out. The class oohed. Because you DO NOT walk out of class.

About five minutes later, The Victim returned. "He says I have to work it out with you. Can I sit in the hall?" Again, I told him 'No.' At some schools, this is routine. You can look down the hall and see several kids sitting out in desks. Not here. It is never done. And besides, how do I know that The Victim even went to the office? Nobody notified me. He had no note. The Victim sat down. I continued to read. The Victim stood up, crumpled up his test, and threw it on the floor. I continued reading. The Victim said, "Oh, my God!" Because he was not getting the attention that he entitled himself to. He mumbled to the students around him for the rest of the hour. He did not turn in his test, but picked up the crumpled paper and left it on his desk. I graded it anyway, just to CMA.

The next hour being my plan time, I wrote up a discipline notice with an account of the incident, and mosied up to the office. The secretary told me that Mr. Principal was not in. I asked if The Victim had been there. She said, "Well, he came in looking for Mr. Principal, but he didn't say why. I told him he was in the cafeteria, so he might have gone out there to talk to him." I still don't know if The Victim ever talked to Mr. Principal. I found Mr. Principal in the hall 30 minutes later, and handed him the evidence, since he was talking to someone else at the time. Between classes, the Client came down the hall and said, "The Big Man doesn't look very happy." I said, "Do you know anything about that?" Meaning, the Client has spent his share of time in Mr. Principal's office. The Client said, "I saw him holding a crumpled paper and a write-up slip, so I'm guessing it's The Victim." I did not respond. You can't discuss one student's issues with another student.

The next day, The Victim got called out of the class in the first five minutes. He walked from his desk, away from the door, to look out the window. The Client and the Attorney both said, "You're gonna get it now! You walked out of class." There is no love lost among the three of them. The Vicitm said, "I may just be going home." Which he did.

Seventh hour, The Principal stopped by my room. "The gentleman in question is getting detention. He just happened to leave today before I called him in. Just so you know."

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom WILL be avenged!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Missin' In The Boys' Room

As promised yesterday, here's what's eating Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. The students have gone off the deep end, and some have managed to swim out of sight of shore. It is anarchy at Newmentia!

On Wednesday, I gave a test, a regular chapter test on Motion, things such as speed, acceleration, net force, etc. At the beginning of 7th hour, I passed out the tests. I pointed out the formulas written on the board in case students might need them for the four problems that were included on the test.

About five minutes after testing began, a sliver of a young man approached my desk. "Can I go to the bathroom?" Normally, I instruct the student to leave his/her cell phone on my desk, and give permission. I am the closest classroom to the bathrooms at my end of the building. My students do not have to pass any other rooms, so I know they won't disturb anyone. No skin off my nose if I let a kid heed nature's call. I figure if they go to the trouble to come up front and ask, they really need to go. This kid has never given me any trouble. I have him twice a day, since he's in my math class, too. He rarely, if ever, has asked to go to the bathroom. So I figured he needed to go NOW, because really, who asks to go to the bathroom in the middle of a test? I didn't even ask for his cell phone. I just nodded for him to go.

Five minutes passed. I sent another youngster to the boys' bathroom to check on Sliver. He came back right away. It IS only about five feet from my door to the boys' bathroom door. Actually, they don't have a door, but a concrete block maze. This has virtually eliminated smoking in the boys' room. I haven't caught a whiff of smoke in the seven years we've been in this building. Except for in the women's faculty bathroom. But I digress...

Checker said, "He's not in there." Mrs. Hillbilly Mom shifted the Mystery Machine into high gear. Another student, he of the one-legged goat story, offered, "I bet he's at the science fair! I bet he's at the science fair!" Which was a red herring, because the school science fair was the previous week, and the junior college science fair is next week. Mrs. HM strode to the back of her room to Command Central. She picked up the phone to dial the library, as Sliver is in the Book Club, and has often asked to go to the library. At that point, Goat Boy announced, "I mean the BOOK fair, not the science fair." Uh huh. Wednesday was the first day of our two-day book fair. In the library.

"Have you seen Sliver?" Mrs. HM asked the breathless librarian, who had been out of her office ogling book fair visitors to cut down on theft. "Yes. He's here." Oh, no he wasn't. At that moment, Sliver walked back into the classroom. He had been gone 15 minutes. "Thanks. He just came in." Mrs. Librarian was tightening his noose unknowingly. "Well, I can assure you that he's been down here in the library." Good to know.

Checker can't keep his mouth shut. He is hereby terminated from Mystery, Inc. "Hey, Sliver. You are SO busted! You weren't in the bathroom. She sent me to check. You were in the library!" Sliver was a deer in 36 ocular headlights. "I never said I wasn't." No. He didn't have a chance to lie to me. Which probably saved him an extra day of ISS.

"What were you doing in the library, Sliver?" I could see the gears churning under that long hair. "I just stopped by for a minute to ask about a book." The library is way down at Mabel's end of the building. Past two bathrooms, a custodian's closet, the faculty workroom, the athletic director's office, the nurse's office, the main entrance, the Principal's office, a classroom, down a ramp, and past the doors to the student parking lot. In no stretch of the imagination could he have "stopped by" the library on his way from Mrs. HM's classroom to the boys' bathroom FIVE FEET AWAY.

Mrs. HM will be avenged. Sliver will have to learn to hold it until the 21st of May.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Bringin' The Pain

In his routine from Bring the Pain, Chris Rock has a part where he explains that a man should never hit a woman, and that HE would never hit a woman, but he understands. Let that marinate for a moment. Better yet, find yourself a copy of Bring the Pain.

Once upon a time, there was a teacher who was not really fond of the students. He was about 15 years away from retirement back then, and when I caught up with him 10 years later, he still had the same attitude. I used to giggle nervously at his antics. Now I understand.

His standard line was, "Kids, we hate you!" He said it several times a day, during lunch, during breaks, standing in the hall where kids could hear him. He probably announced it at the beginning of each class period. He didn't care. It was his mantra.

One of his favorite fantasies involved the demise of the slightly-more-than-half of the student body which he found particularly offensive. It went a little something like this: the Principal would get on the PA system and announce, "The following students report to the gym. Bring your books." Then he would read off a list of names. The Principal, not Mr. Sunshine. And in Mr. Sunshine's fantasyland, the students would report to the gym. With their books. The double doors would close. And gas would be pumped through the shower heads in the locker room, down the short hallway, into the gym, neutralizing all those students standing in anticipation, but leaving their books. That was important to Mr. Sunshine--that we get the books back before the students expired.

Yes. It IS macabre. I would never endorse such a fantasy. But I understand.

More on this flash of insight tomorrow.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Random Thought Thursday 3-26-09

Not to be a Debbie Downer, but...sigh..."It's official. The little red hen that Basementia Buddy traded us for a 12-pack of beer in a three-chicken deal is really a rooster." HH had suspected it because 'she' had a comb, but BB said that it was supposed to have a comb, that it was a Rhode Island Red. Yesterday, HH observed that 'she' is growing spurs.

I don't know which is sadder...The Pony asking HH every evening, "Did the chickens lay any eggs, Dad?" or HH thinking for five months that he was going to get two roosters to produce eggs.

We saw a beautiful rainbow on the way to school this morning, across the street from Basementia. Both ends were visible, and all seven colors of the spectrum. No pots of gold, though. Nor Skittles. Have you met my friend Roy G. Biv? That's how to remember the colors of the visible spectrum, you know. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. You're welcome.

Somebody at work stated that Sarah Palin is as equally mentally ill as the OctoMom. Though not a fan of Sarah Palin, nor Octomom, for that matter, I replied that I don't exactly think they are equivalent on the looney meter. The somebody snapped, "Why? Because she only had five kids instead of fourteen?" Which, upon hearing the tale, the #1 son, who is infatuated with Sarah Palin, said, "I guess we can call her the PentaMom." That's what it's like living with a nerd, in case you didn't know. Anyhoo, thank the Gummi Mary that at least one of the two is crazy enough to wear Arctic Cat clothing instead of attending a snowmobile race in her birthday suit, crazy enough not to get high and give an interview to 60 Minutes while giggling like a schoolgirl, and crazy enough to support the Special Olympics instead of being a role model for ridiculing its participants on national television.

I have an intestine in my 1st hour class. The student council went to Elementia to present a live act of the human body. The Intestine said he recognized my son because when he asked what nutrient was in milk that made it good for you, The Pony wiggled all over his seat, waving his arm in the air, and when called on, bellowed proudly, "CALCIUM!" That, my friends, is what it's like to live with another nerd. Let the record show that The Pony does not even drink milk.

When it gets down to 20 days of school left, I'm going to keep a running tally on the whiteboard. Though it would be more appropriate this year to have kept a running tally of days served, much like a prisoner or hostage trying to maintain sanity.

My faithful New Delly died this evening, only to be resurrected a few moments later. He had the blue screen of death, something about a fatal error and a data dump, then a recurring hiccup of 'Internet Explorer has stopped working' pop-ups that would not abate, even through Task Manager intervention. A system restore to last weekend perked my New Delly right up. If only life itself was so simple.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Toughen Up, Buttercup

What do students chat about when they get their work done? Oh, rainbows and unicorns and puppies and kittens. Or perhaps this:

"If I have kids, and they're rude, they're going in the basement for an hour. They can learn their lesson in the dark!"

Yeah. That's what I overheard 3rd hour today. Welcome to Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's world. Also in her world, the main maintenance dude has been installing two large flat-screen TVs in the cafeteria. Grant money, don't you know. Except the grant specified that electronic equipment had to be used in a common area. So, even though the Principal would have liked to get more computers for the classrooms, he had to find something that would work for the whole community. There sure are a lot of strings attached to the various monies we can finagle.

If I had been in charge of installing two large flat-screen TVs in a cafeteria, you can bet that I would have worked in the morning or afternoon, NOT during the three lunch shifts. But there he's been for the last week and a half, standing on his ladder, his head up in the ceiling tiles. That's just asking for it if you ask me. Which he didn't.

Today, all systems were go. There was reception. Before all the kids had even gone through the line and gotten their trays, Main Dude came to the teachers' table and tossed the remote to the Principal. "I've had enough of THAT!" Then he went back to his ladder and buried his head in the ceiling. Who would have ever imagined that the kids would tell him what channel to put it on, and then another group would ask for a different channel, then the first group would get mad, but a third group would want their channel, etc.? A gosh-darn TEACHER, that's who!

People these days who want to be everybody's buddy will not survive long in a school. Toughen up, Buttercup, or you won't be long for the educational world.

Can I get a "Heck, yeah!" from my teaching cronies?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Additions To Mrs. HM's Never Ever List

A while back, maybe even in one of my previous blog lives, I shared with you Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's Never Ever List. It's a list I put on the white board (or now on my SmartBoard that is just a glorified projector screen) on the first day of school. A list of things my students should never, ever do unless they are just itching to incur my wrath. It starts out with simple things like:

Never, Ever...
...take anything off Mrs. HM's desk
...open the windows without permission
...write or erase anything on the whiteboard
...sit on top of the desk

See. They're common sense, really. But today, I found the necessity of adding two more.

Never, Ever...
...poke a pencil into your scar tissue
...tell people that once you become President, you will kill them

The first one, because a girl squealed, and of course I chastised her, but she apologized, and said, "Just please make him stop. He's poking a pencil into his scar tissue." OK. I'm a reasonable person. I told him to stop. Personal rights of poking scar tissue with a pencil end when you enter Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's classroom, by cracky!

The second one was uttered by the girl who went apoplectic over my self-cut hair a few months ago. She was upset with some boys who were teasing her, and she muttered, "When I'm President, I'm going to kill you." For which I thanked her very much for her forthrightness, said I would make a note of it, and in later life, if some tragedy befell them, I would go straight to the police and make her threat known. I then told her that she might want to re-think using that as a campaign slogan: "When I'm President...I'm going to kill you." She told the class, "I wouldn't kill all of you. I wouldn't kill Mrs. Hillbilly Mom...until I made sure she had a good haircut." She's a downright thoughtful lass for a budding murderer.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Horns Of My Dilemma

I am in a bit of a quandary this evening. I don't want to be one of THOSE parents. But I think I have to. Just this once. Here, now! Who's that laughing at me behind my back?

The situation is this. Last week at Parent Conferences, I went to see The Pony's teacher, as usual. It is HH's duty to pick up the #1 son's grades. I'm working, don't you know, at conference time. The least HH can do is half. But this time, HH did not pick up #1's grades. Which led me to tell #1, "You'll have to pick up your grades at school Monday, like all the other kids whose parents don't love them enough to go to conferences." Don't call 1 800 BAD MOM. My kid understands my sense of humor. That's not the issue.

#1 brought me his grades after school. He was a bit talky, a sure sign of embarrassment. He started off by saying, "Well, here's something you've never seen on my report card before: a D- and a B." The D- was old news. It was from 2nd Quarter, in choir, because he didn't go to a concert. The B was new. It was in English. I was a bit surprised, as this is the All-A boy. However, he had an A in Math, when he should have had an A- by one percentage point, but I guess the teacher decided she pitied him, and anyway, it's usually good to give at least ONE A out of 80 students.

I got to digging about the B. "Did you not turn in some work? Go look it up." The students have access to their grades online. While he was looking it up, I said, "I'm surprised Mrs. Basementia Buddy gave you that A. You said you reversed the numbers on that test on slope, and dropped to a 96." He scoffed, "She likes me. I do good in her class." To which I replied, "And obviously you don't do 'good' in English."

#1 found out that one of his scores was listed as 6/30. He said, "I don't remember EVER getting a 6 on a quiz. I have all those graded papers." He dug through his backpack, drew out a dog-eared blue folder, and pulled out that quiz. It was marked 26/30. This is very easy to do when entering grades in our gradebook program. My problem is usually the opposite. Instead of punching in '10', I have on occasion put in '100'. My clue was when a student asked me how he was doing, and I said, "OK" and he said, "Just OK?" So I looked it up, and that little devil had something like 240 percent, so I looked at the individual scores and caught the error.

Anyhoo, when I got out my trusty $1 calculator, it turned out that instead of the 89% B on his grade card, #1 should have had a 95% A-. Which does not mean so much in the big scheme of Middle School grades, but it IS a core class. And at semester, the computer automatically averages the 3rd and 4th Qtr letter grades together for the semester grade that is the permanent record.

So...can't decide if to mention it to his teacher tomorrow or not. #1 said he would forget to bring it up himself. I have his graded paper. I have a good working relationship with this teacher, a fellow traveler (and I don't mean that in the communist way). It is very hard to override a grade for a previous quarter. At least that is what the counselor's office would have us believe. That must be because we can't do it ourselves. Someone techy or the counselor has to do it.

The more I think about it, the more I want to try to rectify the matter. Fair is fair. I'm throwing caution to the wind.

At least I'm not the mother who bought her son Legos to build a Native American diorama the day AFTER it was due, NO EXCEPTIONS, and wrote a note to the teacher to accept it because it was HER fault, not her son's, because she had been too busy to listen to him when he told her he needed some crafty stuff to build a diorama.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Same Old Same Old

Nothing ever changes here at the Mansion.

HH is mad because even though I asked people what they needed from the store, and made a shopping list, and spent two hours in two stores, plus many dollars on the weekly grocery shopping...I did not get HH his special Nutri-Grain blueberry waffles. Although I did get him the whole-wheat bagels he asked for, and found that he still had four left in a package when I went to put them away, and some mixed fruit, which I found a new four-pack of when I went to put it away. Some days I'm just not psychic enough for HH.

The #1 son has yet another iPhone. His had dust under the screen, so he made an appointment at the Genius Bar at the iPhone store, and HH took him to the city yesterday after bowling. After going over it with a fine-toothed comb, including checking to make sure it had never been wet (#1 says they look in the headphone port and some other docking hole thingy to see if something has turned red, which means it got wet, and then they won't replace the phone) the Genius gave #1 his new iPhone. It's his third or fourth one.

The Pony sliced his finger on a soda can at lunch. See, kids? Soda is bad for your health. He probably panicked, since the slightest injury makes him unable to function. #1 caught him in the basement bathroom (the NASCAR bathroom) running water over his bleeding digit. The Pony came upstairs, where I made him rinse it in the sink while I got some triple antibiotic ointment courtesy of The Devil, and a green Scooby Doo band-aid to staunch the flow. I'm surprised #1 didn't just scream "WE'VE GOT A BLEEDER!" which was his favorite thing to do after some online Mother's Day card the boys emailed me a couple of years ago. I think Mabel gave them the idea.

I am still behind on laundry after a three-day weekend, but feeling almost recovered from my sickness last week. This has been THE LONGEST school year on record, and I've had the MOST viruses ever.

The year can not end quick enough for me.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Ladies, Don't Let Your Husbands Go Out With You Shopping

Do you think I could get Willie Nelson to write me a song with that title? It's no worse than that Mommas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys monstrosity.

Seriously. I have had it with the tag-a-longs at The Devil's Playground. First of all, they don't even push the cart. What do you need them for, anyway? To keep them alive by telling them to breathe in, breathe out? They traipse along, lagging 3-4 feet behind the cart. While you are looking at a label, Lady, the husband in temporarily suspended in NoMan'sLand. Meaning, he is right in the way of what I want to get off the shelf. If I can force myself to be polite, and say, "Excuse me" without an attitude, he scurries away like a tenement roach when the bare light bulb hanging from the wire in the broken-linoleum kitchen is flicked on.

Men. They are so simple. They have to be coddled day and night. They can't be left home alone while the wife does the shopping. They might get hungry. Or lonely. Or forget to breathe in, breathe out.

Secondly, also like tenement roaches, when you see one husband, you know there are 100 more that you can't see. Until you get to the next aisle. And there they are. All 100 of them. OK, maybe three or four of them. But they seem like more. They join up with other ladies' husbands and chat in pairs. Which really wreaks havoc with a woman on a mission and her shopping list.

The Devil's Playground needs to put in a bar. Or a Hooters. That Papa John's Pizza just doesn't cut it. Husbands need a place to be watched while the ladies shop. Kind of like a Toddler Town, where they can be out of the way, but not in any danger to themselves. Like a Kennelwood Village, but for husbands, not for dogs. They could all romp together in a fenced yard, play tug-o-war with power tools, take a nap on a rug in front of a TV, have a snack of meat byproducts, and bound to greet you when your shopping is done.

What a scathingly brilliant idea! Ow! I just hurt my shoulder by patting myself on the back.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Never A Relaxing Day Off

Today was a day off from school, a regular 7-hour day that was earned by staying late for 9 hours this week for conferences. The calendar committee must not be so good at math.

First cat out of the bag this morning, just as I had turned to TBS to watch an early episode of ER, the #1 son dragged himself out of bed and asked me to take him to the town library. That's one of the signs that your kid is a nerd, I guess. That, and the incident at the Science Fair on Wednesday night when the other science teacher told him to his face, "Yeah, but you're a nerd." I think it was because he was in hog heaven stapling category labels on kids' projects. I told the boy I would drop him off at the library while I deposited my check, gassed up T-Hoe, and took The Pony and myself for a haircut.

The bank was not the place to be today, what with all those out-of-work people finding reasons to pop in at 1:30 on a Friday and open accounts or fiddle with their money. As I was getting out of the car, a young whippersnapper barreled into the spot next to me, jumped out of her car, and cut in front of me right at the door. It could have been a Roller Derby moment. She had her elbows a-flappin', but I think I could have taken her. We got inside the double doors, and there were three tellers, all busy. A cowboy-like older dude in a western shirt was milling around. Usually, people at this bank step inside the door, and wait for the next available teller. That's fair. None of this being forced to pick a line that might not move. A young guy came up behind me, and acted like he wanted past, but I couldn't move forward because of that Roller Derby Queen. It's a small bank.

Finally, a long-winded guy got done, and Cowboy stepped up to the bar to open a checking account. Somebody must be driving cattle to Montana. Another teller walked up behind a 'closed' window, and asked if anybody just had a plain deposit that needed a receipt. I told her I had a deposit and a cup of change. That's no big deal. They walk it back to the counter and dump it in and bring out a receipt and pay me. It takes about 60 seconds. But no. The young guy behind me said, "I just have a deposit." So she nodded to him. The middle window lagger got done and Roller Derby Queen stepped up. She didn't take long, as she got $400 in cash and left. I took over her teller. My deposit was in, and my $26.83 in change was paid out before that young guy was done with his 'just a deposit'. Something was fishy about that guy.

I gassed up T-Hoe at the 7-11 because I prefer that he drinks only the finest gas. A cashier on a smoke break stood right on the front porch watching me the whole time, which was kind of creepy, and kind of bad for business. Perhaps the Southland Corporation, or whoever owns them now, should institute a policy about smoking right in front of the door in your uniform. By the time I went in to pay, and got behind a lady with a daughter and $9.00 worth of Slurpees and burritos and whatnot, the dude had finished his smoke and offered to ring me up at the second register. Who am I to turn down a cashier all hopped-up on nicotine? T-Hoe cost me $25.64, which just goes to show that I am pretty near Even Steven status again, what with my change money from the bank.

We went for haircuts, and The Pony spotted a truck parked out front with a cage full of chickens in the back. Yeah. This is the country. We had to wait for two men to get haircuts, then a woman came in, then a man with twin boys around 3-years-old opened up the door and said he'd come back (thank the Gummi Mary!) and another lady stuck her head in and said, "This is too busy. I'll be back." Too bad, so sad. Less people to avoid gazes with in the waiting area. The Pony and I were shorn in short order, and headed back to town to gather up the #1 son.

By then, the day was shot, what it being 3:30 when we got home. At least my cough has somewhat abated, and the shooting pain in my right ear is now intermittent instead of constant. And that's all the excitement I have for you tonight.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Random Thought Thursday 3-19-09

If you plan to eat an orange in my class, you should know that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has a sense of smell, and even though she thinks she doesn't breathe through her nose at school, that orange smell gets in. Oh, and when you set your ginormous purse on the desk and hide behind it, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is on full alert, and will watch you like a hawk for texting, which will enable her to SEE you take a bite of that orange. The explanation, "I peeled it, but I was going to put it in my purse," will not convince Mrs. Hillbilly Mom of your innocence. Contrary to popular belief, there ARE rules in Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's classroom, or else it would be one big ol' buffet from 1st hour to 7th hour, a buffet in which somebody would have the nerve to complain that there was no wi-fi.

Phil Keogh, the host of The Amazing Race, is a good sport. To explain a task in which one member of each team had to run 1.4 miles through Siberia in winter in his/her underwear, Phil posed momentarily in HIS underwear. He's got nothing to be ashamed of. Kudos, Phil.

I didn't make it to the #1 son's Honor's Choir thingy Monday night, seeing as how I vomited about 15 minutes before time to leave. That, and my hacking cough, led me to believe I would be Hillbilly non grata at the concert. And I didn't even have any sweet, sweet Histinex to sooth me. That Cheratussin is a pale substitute, and does not deter my cough like sweet, sweet Histinex. Cheratussin has been languishing in the hardly-ever-used-cup cupboard since December 3. After trying it again, I know why.

The giant tomato tree on the infomercial looks like something I would enjoy.

We are in 4th Quarter, on the downhill slide to summer vacation. Graduation is set for May 22. And that, my friends, puts me one year closer to retirement. Not that I'm all that close. One can only dream.

What this school needs is one of those signal-jamming phone thingies. That way, the kids can't text or call, and since we can see those ear thingies in case they try listening to music, their phones will be useless to them during the school day. Another victory for The Man!

It is not really polite to bring your mother, father, and two brothers with you to the school Science Fair, and have them sit in front of your project with you, and eat 50% of the cookies provided as snacks for participants, and drink one of the four gallons of punch. A Science Fair is not a buffet. Next year, there will be rules concerning who is allowed in the judging area. Boyfriends are also expendable.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hog Heaven For The Pony

The Pony is doubly excited this week. Elementia is having the annual Special Olympics fundraiser wherein Domino's Pizza is sold by the slice at lunch. Oh, the kids still have to take a tray, or bring their lunch, but they can buy pizza. That seems wasteful to me, but since The Pony takes his lunch, he just brings it home to take back the next day, the things like the fruit roll-up and the Grips and the snack bag of cereal.

The second item tickling The Pony's fancy is the Book Fair. That boy lurves him some Book Fair. The first day, they get to look at the books. The second day, they can take money and buy them. Since The Pony is now in 5th grade, he gets first choice at the books. Many a time in the lower grades he would come home disappointed that the Book Fair ran out of a book he wanted before his class had a chance to buy books. He always seems to find even more that he wants after he makes his first purchase. I won't begrudge a child a book. That's one thing you won't hear me complain about.

The Pony was also proud last week of passing his flexed-arm hang in P.E. It was never his strong point, and that broken elbow in 2007 didn't help. Now he is a fanatic. He comes in from helping HH down in the woods clearing trees, and says, "Feel my muscle NOW!" The Pony almost didn't pass the shuttle run. According to him, "Then Mrs. Gym Dictator let those of us who couldn't pass take off our shoes. And SOCKS. After that, I didn't have any trouble, but my foot kind of hurts from pounding on the gym floor." Great Googley Moogley! I hope his toenails were not overgrown.

As icing on his cake, The Pony has four evenings this week at his grandma's house, due to my busy schedule. When you've just turned 11, it doesn't get any better than that.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bones To Pick Before I Sleep

I am a bit disappointed with HH lately. I don't know why I say 'lately'. This is an ongoing problem, but I've been so busy lately, I suppose, that it has become a bone of contention.

HH does not help out. Like, when I dropped two tax forms onto the kitchen floor, and he happened to walk by me feverishly working on those taxes at the kitchen table on his way to his precious MiniMansion down in the woods. He made a big, exaggerated step over them. Then he turned around and looked at me, the pain of my eyes burning into his back having gotten his attention. "What? Did you expect me to pick them up?" NO! I didn't expect any such thing. It's just like anything dropped on the floor--he will step over it and wait for me to pick it up. A child would have offered to pick up those tax forms. Not HH. I suppose he thought I planned on filing them there.

Let's see...then there's the basket of laundry I was folding in the midst of getting supper ready. You'd think that when HH walked in from an entire freakin' day down at his MiniMansion on Sunday, he would have seen that laundry basket in front of his La-Z-Boy, and thought, "I could finish folding these towels." But no. That thought didn't enter his head. He sat somewhere else.

The expired left-over jug of milk that I set by his cell-phone-staging area was left there for two days. Normally, if I put something there, that means that as he walks out the door, he should dump it out to the pets. Not any more. He just thinks I am now storing milk on the kitchen counter instead of in the refrigerator.

Same for the cardboard boxes after a shopping spree at Save-A-Lot. I put them by the kitchen door, a clue for him to take them over to his burn pile at the BARn. Three of them sat by the door all weekend.

And those wastebaskets apparently empty themselves now, because when they are full, HH does not take them out and put in a new bag, but rather steps his foot into them to shove stuff down so more can be piled on top.

Or when he has a day off and decides to fry up some bacon and eggs, and then washes HIS pan and HIS plate and HIS fork, leaving the other dishes in their places for me when I find time to do them. Have I mentioned that I do not have a dishwasher?

HH just doesn't get it. It's not like I expect him to do the laundry and the cooking and the shopping and the cleaning and the dish-washing and the bill-paying and the child care. I'd only like him to use some common sense and help out. And not to lecture me from his La-Z-Boy about being a complainer if I dare to ask him why he leaves his soda can and snack wrapper next to the chair for ME to pick up.

He just doesn't get it.

Monday, March 16, 2009

HM's Itinerary

I will be gone every night this week. Don't even think about ransacking the Mansion. We have crazy dogs, and those five cats are not the sharpest tools in the shed.

Tonight, I am at the #1 son's All-Conference Choir recital at the local junior college. The band plays, too, and he is not permitted to leave when his singing is over, though you should see the stampede of OTHER people's kids leaving. He has to wear a tie, and didn't want the clip-on that he wore to his last dress-uppy thingamajig. The only tie HH has that isn't clip-on is the one I got for my mistaken contribution of $300 to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. It is wildly colored and looks like a comic strip. #1 said the clip-on would be fine.

Tuesday, we have Parent Conferences until 7:00, the last hour taken up by 8th grade orientation for next year's freshmen. That includes the #1 son.

Wednesday is our school Science Fair, which has been rescheduled about five times. You can see how we rate. Normally, nothing is permitted on a Wednesday. Again, you see the weight given to our little exercise in scholastics. One kid told the other science teacher, "You know I have church on Wednesdays. Can't my partner be there and I still get the points?" She's not goin' for it. In her words, "I figure they go to church every Wednesday night all year. If they can't miss ONE time, then they don't need the bonus points. Same way with kids that work: trade your hours with someone, or don't come. It's only bonus points." And now that we have had to put it off for two extra weeks, those bonus points will go on the 4th Quarter grade. This is the first week of 4th Quarter. Not a lot of kids are jonesin' for bonus points right now.

Thursday is an early out for the kids, and conferences from 1:00 to 6:00 for us. I may actually get some work done on this day. Not a lot of parents come to 3rd Quarter conferences.

Friday is a day off earned by our two late nights of conferences, although we actually put in nine hours in place of a regular school day of seven hours. I forget how we thought that was a bargain. On Friday night, the Hillbilly family has tickets to see a world-renowned hypnotist. That's what the tickets say. It's a fundraiser for the basketball teams. I wonder what part of the ticket expense is my entertainment value, and what part is a charitable contribution. The tickets are $10 apiece. He better do some hefty hypnotizin' for that piece of change.

Wow! This week just flew by.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Taxes Are Done, Man!

Don't be so surprised. I am not one of those people who try to file my taxes on January 1. Since I do not get a humongous refund due to my Child Tax Credits and Additional Child Tax Credits and Childcare Costs from my 14 children, or deductions of Missouri rent, or receive Earned Income Credit on income that was given to me by working people who are only allowed to PAY taxes and not get credits for not working enough...I am in no hurry to file.

All that's left is the making of copies for my records, assembling my forms in the proper order, slapping a stamp or two on the envelopes, and depositing them in a U.S. Postal Service receptacle. Don't accuse me of living in the Dark Ages because I don't file electronically. I am not going to pay for tax software. I refuse to spend money to file my taxes. The stamps are bad enough. Oh, but if I made less money, I could e-file for free. Or if I paid a tax preparation service, I could e-file for free. No thanks. One year, I did manage somehow to file online for free. But I still had to send in some forms. It was not worth it, what with dial-up out here in the hinterlands.

Besides, I don't want to make a mistake like cruel-mouthed Treasury Secretary Timmy Geithner, due to my tax software. If a financial genius like Timmy Geithner can make a mistake on his taxes and owe an extra $34,000, I sure don't want to risk it. Though unlike Timmy Geithner, I KNOW I can't deduct child care expenses--my kids don't even GO to overnight camp.

And don't tell me I'm giving the government an interest-free loan by letting them hold onto my meager refund for an extra couple of months. It makes no matter to me. Out of sight, out of mind. My part of this refund amounts to about $13 per week, which besides being unlucky, would be just money to be spent on lottery tickets. With my luck, I would win another $1000 on a scratcher ticket. That has to be reported, you know. Though if you itemize, you can deduct gambling winnings to the tune of gambling losses. And I guarantee I lost more than I won, so I came out Even Steven on this one, even if it's not a dollar for dollar tax break. Uncle Sam still got a goodly portion of my un-earned $1000.

I suppose I'll package up my taxes next weekend. There's no rush, really. I'll give them time to simmer and go over them one more time. I found an $8 error today, in calculating the gouging of my deduction formerly known as Child Tax Credit. Seems I didn't read the fine print and round a number to the next thousand. That's what happens when you forget your bifocals at school.

I wonder how that would sound at my Senate Confirmation Hearing?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

What's The Deal, Eh?

Perhaps I have mentioned that the Hillbilly family splits its grocery dollars between The Devil's Playground and Save-A-Lot. The Devil is a necessary evil, what with sundry items that are not carried by Save-A-Lot. I can find the specific brands demanded by the male Hillbilly family members at The Devil's, and I buy some fruits and vegetables there. I draw the line at meat. Only in a dire time-intensive emergency will I touch The Devil's meat.

First of all, The Devil fiddles about with his meat. I'm thinking it involves pumping it up with water. When I fry hamburger from The Devil, it is not just grease that runs out. No. It is a mixture of the grease and bubbles. To me, that spells M-O-O-N, water. You know that oil and water don't mix, don't you? So that's honest beef fat and the usurper, water, that makes those floating bubbles in my non-stick pan. That doesn't happen with hamburger from Save-A-Lot.

And another thing...The Devil has cut some kind of deal to make his meat live forever. The expiration dates on that stuff are outrageous. And the meat does not even smell like meat, and it is tasteless when cooked. But I can't figure out who The Devil could cut a deal with. After all, he's The Devil, the #1 Dealmaker in the world.

Which brings us back to Save-A-Lot. I'm not saying I would buy meat at just any Save-A-Lot. Only the one in my neighborhood. Sure, every now and then a woman follows me through the store, strokes my arm, asks if I am married, and tells me I am SO PRETTY. You can't let a little thing like that keep you from good meat. But that issue is neither here nor there this evening. The issue is that on my last four shopping trips, I caught Save-A-Lot selling meat labeled:


Not that there's anything wrong with that. Canada is our friend. And apparently a better friend than Great Britain, although we've yet to gift them with a 25-DVD set of American classic movies. Note how I put that in red, Canada's color, for that giant maple-leafy flag of theirs. Hey! I watched the Olympics.

My question is: "Why are we importing meat from Canada?" Are there not enough cows and pigs in the United States to supply the Hillbilly family with hamburger and pork steaks? We don't eat THAT much! Where's the domestic animal flesh that we wish to ingest? Are there not enough fields to contain the cows and pigs, what with that land being needed to grow corn for ethanol? Is there not enough corn to feed the cows and pigs, what with the corn being used to make ethanol? Have farmers sold off their herds, unable to afford the proposed $87.50 per beef cow and $20 per hog tax on farts? Are the cattle and hog industries run by powerful unions, so powerful that their workers earn $70 per hour, workers who, if they are laid off, can still receive full pay for two years, which necessitates higher domestic meat prices? What's going on here?

Cry a single garbage Indian tear for the Canadiazation of America.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Immature Boy: The Sequel. Or why you can never reason with an adolescent during the full moon.

The next day this kid is in class, he starts his tired old song and dance routine. Keep in mind that he gets back from tech school, eats lunch in the cafeteria, sneaks out to stand around the corner out of sight of cameras with the janitors, goes straight to my room at the bell, bullies kids until just before the tardy bell, stands blocking my doorway to ask if he can go to the bathroom, or brush his teeth, or get his book. I will admit that I am an enabler. It's easier to let him go then, and only disrupt when he comes back in, than to have him in his seat, asking me while I am trying to take attendance.

Halfway through class, after giving an assignment for which I allowed partner work, he moves right in front of my desk. He rubs his head. And from there, it goes a little something like this:

I have a headache. It's bad. Can I go to the nurse?
Why not? It really hurts.
I let you go to the library, and you went somewhere else. You're not leaving my classroom.
But I've been sick all day. I need to see the nurse.
(Various malcontents: He really has been sick. You should let him go.)
Why didn't you go during lunch? Or instead of talking to the janitors?
What do you mean?
You had time to go then. There's no need to use my class time.
It didn't hurt this bad then. I always get a headache when I come in here.
I'm not surprised. I always get a headache during this hour, too.
So you're not letting me go to the nurse?
You can't do that.
Yes, I can. You proved that I can't trust you. You might go somewhere else.
Come ON! I just want to go get some ibuprofen for my headache.
You can do that after class.
It hurts now. I'm going to walk out of class if you don't let me go.
Do what you have to do. I will have to write you up if you walk out.
(The Attorney: Yeah. She wrote ME up when I walked out!)
(For the record: Attorney told me the day before his incident that he felt sick, and might need to run to the bathroom. I gave him permission, and he went once. The next day, he made no mention of illness, acted like his usual self, and got up in the middle of my lesson and walked out, not a word of explanation. I suppose he thought that one day of permission granted him walk-out privileges for life. He knew better, and was just making a scene. That's what he lives for.)
Oh, this is so stupid. Will you go to the phone and call up there?
That's a good idea. I will have the nurse make a house call to my classroom.
What? I don't want her to come down here to see me!
That was your idea.
Do you know how embarrassing that would be?
I'm just trying to get you the medical attention that you need.
I don't even know if she's here. I'll look out the window for her truck.
(New Girl This Year: She's here. I just went there.)
That's where you were? You let HER go to the nurse, and you won't let ME?
That's right. She has never disappeared when I let her go somewhere.
I can't wait to get to Mrs. LunchBuddy's class. How about you, Attorney?
I can wait.
Mrs. LunchBuddy is so much fun. You can joke with her.
(The Attorney: Yeah. You really like her, because she HIT YOU.)
(This is true. Professional Victim had his mom come to school because Mrs. LunchBuddy hit him on the back when he threw something, saying, "Professional Victim, stop that!")
We're over that. Anyway, like I said, you can joke with HER.
That's good. Since you can't joke with me, which I guess is what you're hinting at, maybe you shouldn't sit in front of my desk and talk to me.
(The Attorney: Ha, ha. She got you on that one.)
I can't believe this. Oh...this is SO stupid.
Your behavior caused the situation. I've let you do more than anyone else in here, so don't start about how I won't let you do anything.
You have to let me go to the nurse.
No, I don't. I've offered to call her down here, but you don't want that. What you really want is to see if I will let you out of class. And I won't.
That's stupid. Why would I do that?
You tell me.
You're just like my brother.
I can see that. I have him twice a day.
Just drop it.
All right.
Really. Just DROP IT.
I did. Why are you still talking?
Oh, this is good. Just drop it, OK?
I did.
I can't believe you won't stop.
Maybe if you stop talking, your head won't hurt so much.
I'm going to put my head down and go to sleep.
Go ahead.
Oh, I can't believe this.
I thought you were going to sleep.
(Episode of eye-rolling and sighing.)

I refuse to let a student have the last word. That's just how I roll. We had an 'expert speaker' during an inservice telling us how to not agitate a student by trying to have the last word. As Mr. S and I say, "Like H*LL!" There is no way I'm backing down from a student tirade. Bring it. A classroom has ONE LEADER, and that is ME, by cracky! Deal with it. Put that in your expert pipe and smoke it! Let one kid get away with that, and you lose the respect of every other kid in that class. They know what's right and what is wrong. They need to know the boundaries.

The principal came to the door to ask if I burned the popcorn. It wasn't a code. Somebody had incinerated some popcorn just before this hour, and the whole building stunk. Having a microwave, but no popcorn, I was off the hook.

"Mr. Principal, on your way back up the hall, could you stop by and escort Professional Victim to the nurse's office? He has a really bad headache, and I can't let him go alone."

"How about if we give him a pain in the other end...say, from sitting three days in ISS?"

The Principal made his exit. Professional Victim revived from his near-coma. Actually, he was already revived, since he blurted out something when the principal was talking to me, so that I had to ask Mr. Principal to repeat himself.

You just had to bring it up, didn't you?
I want you to have the medical care that you need.
He called me in about the library. Did you know that?
No. But I'm not surprised. I went right to him and told him how you disappeared.
I didn't get in any trouble, though.
(The Attorney: How's that? You got called into the office!)

The bell rang. I watched Professional Victim go down the hall. He did NOT make a stop at the nurse's office. Go figure!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Immature Boy Lost And Found

Two days ago, a student sealed himself in my classroom until the end of the year. Not literally. The door doesn't lock from the inside. He figuratively sealed himself in, due to some boneheaded behavior.

It all started when he asked to go to the library after his work was done. By which I do not mean to imply that it was done by HIM. This kid does not even read on reading day, when it is required for 30 minutes. I told him no, that he doesn't even read when told. He said that he DOES look at pictures in the Guinness Book of Freaks, or whatever you want to call it. I voiced my prediction that he would bring back the book, put it on his desk, and wander around the room talking anyway. He said no, that he would read it. I told him to go get a book and come right back. He agreed. Five minutes later, an actual reader asked to go, so I said yes. Reader came back, and said that he didn't stay, because the librarian was having a meeting with three other ladies. I asked if there were students in the library. Reader said, "There were some. But I didn't see Professional Victim in there." Aha! Exhibit A! A picture of the library with no Professional Victim. I tried to call the library, with no answer. Guess the librarian was in a meeting.

Professional Victim returned to the room about five minutes before the end of class. He had a reading book with him. "Have you ever read this book? I think it looks good. I'm going to read it." It looked like a book a girl might read.

Where have you been?
To the library.
You were told to come right back.
I did.
You were gone 22 minutes.
No way!
Yes way. Where have you been?
I was in the library.
I'm going to give you one more try to tell me where you've been.
The library. I told you.
(Attorney hollered out: Reader went to the library, and YOU weren't there!)
(Way to tip my hand, Attorney. I'm gambling here.)
Well, I WAS in the library, but I stopped by Mrs. Teacher's room. I talked to her a couple of minutes.
You mean 22 minutes. You weren't supposed to go anywhere except the library, and you were to come right back.
I don't know why you're making a big deal of it. Her room is on the way.
I'm going to check with the librarian to see how long you were there.

The big deal is that students can't just roam the building at will. If that was allowed, any kid that asked to use the bathroom could go play basketball in the gym. And maybe get hurt. A kid could sit in the janitor's closet and text to her heart's content. Or if something happened, how would we ever find a kid after a lockdown or fire or tornado or school invasion or whatever. They have to be where we send them. That's why they have a hall pass.

My plan time was next, so I headed to the library as soon as my class left the room. There was Professional Victim standing by Mrs. Teacher's door. "Getting your story straight?" He didn't answer. Mrs. Teacher said, "He was in here." Yes, well, I kind of figured that, once he confessed to it. There are cameras all over the building. My point was that he should not have been in her room at all. Two of her students had a fight that morning while Professional Victim was at tech school, and he had been asking about it from the minute he entered my class. I had a sneaking suspicion that he wanted the scoop straight from the horse's mouth, which was his sole purpose of the library trip. Which is not a good reason to be out of my class on false pretenses.

The librarian said she was busy with her meeting, and didn't notice who was in the library. I saw the writing on the wall, what with no evidence from the library, and Mrs. Teacher feeling that it was OK for him to be in her class for 20 minutes. I didn't have a leg to stand on. I went straight to talk to the principal, told him the situation, pointed to a write-up slip lying on his desk, and said, "I'm not even going to write it up, because Mrs. Teacher is going to vouch for him having permission from HER to be in her room. But the fact is that he was not where he was supposed to be, and I'm not letting him out again, and he will be crying about me treating him unfairly. Just so you know."

Oh, but it gets better. You'll have to wait until tomorrow for the sequel.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

He Has The Power

We had a little storm here last night, which is why my post was kind of late.

There's no excuse tonight, though, unless I can count cooking three different meals for supper, which took me from 4:45 until 6:30. HH had baked Alaska haddock, and the boys had fish sticks, and I had hamburger (no bun because they were stale) and two big fat dill pickles. HH and the #1 son had broccoli and cheese, with HH also having cauliflower, which #1 won't eat. The Pony, who does not like 'vinchtables' was told it was broccoli or salad, so he and I had romaine, tomato, cheese, ranch dressing, and croutons. All were on their own for dessert, because while all of us will eat strawberries, we finished them last night. The #1 son will only eat pears, of which we had none. HH will eat peaches. The Pony prefers fresh fruit but just bananas or apples. HH doesn't like apples unless somebody will peel them for him. #1 must have caramel dip, of which we had none.

Oh, and I also slipped in a load of laundry, washed a sinkfull of dishes, fixed up The Pony's lunch for tomorrow, signed his planner, and gave HH $14 for the neighbor boy who came selling fundraiser items.

There's got to be an easier way to wind down as soon as I get home.

But getting back to that storm...my little heater under my desk sputtered. I thought I had finally used it to death, but the #1 son ran down and said, "Dad says you need to turn off your computer because the weather is bad and we don't have full power. Listen: you can hear how bad it is down here, and we never hear it down here." Which is true. I could hear the wind and rain. So The Pony and I turned off our computers. I went upstairs to find HH watching TV, the light on, two kitchen lights on, the #1 son with two TVs and the lights on in his room. What part of not having full power did I not understand? HH said, "This is really hard on something like a refrigerator motor.

Apparently, HH has a bad case of 'Do as I say, not as I do, Nancy Pelosi fever.'

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Educatin' New-Style

Of course I must say a few words about the President's speech on education.

Today's teleprompter recital brought us the following visions:

"Today’s system of fifty different sets of benchmarks for academic success means 4th grade readers in Mississippi are scoring nearly 70 points lower than students in Wyoming, and getting the same grade," he said. "That is inexcusable, and that is why I am calling on states that are setting their standards far below where they ought to be to stop low-balling expectations for our kids."

What about the Chicago schools? What about Illinois? Why doesn't he elaborate on the schools in the state where HE was in a position to do something about education? This, from the guy who had a hand in funneling $160,000,000 from the Annenberg Challenge into Chicago Public Schools, with negligible results. You have heard about the Chicago Public Schools, haven't you? And who is in charge at the U.S. Department of Education? The dude who has been in charge of the Chicago Public Schools. This is like putting Hillbilly Mom in charge of mapping the entire world. All 57 United States, and that tiny country of Iran that doesn't really count.

"The president said that children should spend more time in the classroom, adding that South Korean students spend more than a month longer in schools than those in the U.S. He joked that while longer school days may not be popular, especially with his own elementary school aged daughters, he said the extra time is needed to keep Americans competitive."

Do the regular people know that schools feed breakfast to the kids, teach them all day, and feed them supper during the 2-hour after-school program to avoid leaving any of them behind? Many kids are at school from 7:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. These are little kids, people. Elementary students. They need TLC, not cramming for standardized tests. Let's say optimistically that they get home by 5:30, get maybe an hour to wind down by playing outside or watching TV, spend a half-hour taking a bath, do their homework that is NOT a part of that after-school program, and voila! It is bedtime. Then they get up to do it all over again for the next four days of the week. That's like a full-time job, people. How are we going to lengthen that day? Oh, and the school year? Have we forgotten about summer school? Many kids are paid with a $100 gift card for attending, so you can bet they are there with bells on. That does not make for a very long summer vacation. All work and no play makes our children resentful of school, not wanting to be there, and acting up when forced to go, and of course the school can't punish them because they have rights, by cracky!

"In addition to raising expectations for students, the president also said he expects more from the nation's teachers. Bad teachers should be fired, and good ones should be rewarded with more money, the president explained, though he did not provide specifics on how or who would make such determinations."

Hmm...who fights to keep teachers from being fired? UNIONS! What schools have strong unions? The WORST schools. The schools who go on strike and keep kids out of the classroom, cutting into precious days of learning that need to be lengthened. The unions may pretend to go for this plan, but just try to fire a union teacher. Our rural Missouri schools don't have unions. No AFT or NEA for us. That's asking for trouble. At my first teaching job, two teachers dared to join NEA. They had to hold meeting off school property. They were persona non gratis with the administration. Troublemakers. Unions are for city folk, for rebels. We, on the other hand, have MSTA. They are kind of like backward lobbyists to me. They are the weak, sickly kittens of the union world. But we join to the tune of $199 per year. Just in case.

A real teacher does not teach for the pay. It's a calling. A real teacher wants what's best for the kids. A real teacher works together with colleagues for the common good of the school. Sometimes they do things they don't like or agree with, but they do it. If you pay the 'good ones' more, the others who might have the remedial classes, or teach on the less affluent side of town, will get their noses out of joint over the favoritism shown to those who have the bag of golden coins dropped into their laps, and they will up and quit. That's how they will say it, too. "I'm sick of this sh*t. I put up with more crap from teaching the more difficult students whose parents don't give a rat's patootie about their education, and you're going to pay those college prep track teachers MORE because their students score higher? Take this job and shove it. I'm going to up and quit. It's not worth it anymore." A real teacher does have limits. Battles have been fought over one group allegedly having 10 more minutes of plan time per week than others. Or one fewer game duty. A real teacher sticks up for his rights. It's all about perception of worth, of status, of THE MAN sticking it to one group over another. A real teacher will only sacrifice so many things for the students, and self-worth is not one of them.

"In addition, the White House says that even though the president is not laying out a blueprint for No Child Left Behind, this is enumerated and will be affected by his call to states to increase their standards and assessments."

Sweet Gummi Mary in a handbasket! Just what we need, more assessments to measure the teacher's performance for that merit pay, I suppose. Let's water down our curriculum to make sure we teach those items being tested. Forget about enrichment, producing a well-rounded individual, one who can think for himself. Let's teach the kids how to score well on a test. Excuse me: tests. That's sure to help them later in life.

The President is welcome to walk a year in my shoes. Then he can tell me what's best for education. In return, I promise not to advise him on the economy. Ever.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Polluted And Sullied

A student was offended today by something I said. Surprise, surprise! All I said was, in reference to The Attorney telling him that that he just might kill him and dump his body in the river, "That would be polluting!" Go figure. Professional Victim said I meant that he was dirty. Au contraire, my dear Alphonse. Dumping things into a river IS polluting. Just like the duffel bag Problem Child said his dad found by the boat ramp. His dad snagged it and it was really heavy, and he thought he had found something good, like the time they found some binoculars and a fishing reel on the bottom of the river. His dad unzipped that duffel bag, made a face, and threw it back in the water. It was full of dead kittens. That's pollution.

Never mind that just before this happened, Professional Victim was ordered by Mrs. Hillbilly Mom to go to the custodian's closet and borrow a broom and dustpan for the half ton of mud that he kicked off his shoes under his desk. Never mind that the kid can walk all over the bus from tech school, sit in the lunch room for 20 minutes, walk down the hall to his locker, make a trip to the bathroom, step into my class...and the only mud is under his desk. That, too, is pollution.

A different student took issue this morning over my tissues. I gave her a stack of them last week when she was really sick, the idea being that I was spreading good karma, and her virus would thus avoid me. That part of it worked. I gave her the last of that box of Puffs Plus, and set out a new box. I might have mentioned that I have suspicions that somebody at Puff's Quality Control was asleep at the switch on the recent lot of Puffs Plus. They are scratchy and not very lotiony. But they are the exact same brand, in the exact same three-pack of the exact same boxes. Perhaps the wood used to grind into those tissue fibers was not virgin timber, but slutty, back-street, chancre-sored, ripped-fishnet-wearing, smeared-mascara, needle-tracked timber. Just sayin'. Or maybe China has something to do with it.

Anyhoo...Miss Tissue Police took issue with the roughness on her OH SO TENDER nose. She was not impolite in her chastising of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, but how polite is it, really, to complain about the new tissues a teacher has bought for students to use after giving that student a whole honkin' stack of free tissues that she previously bought for student use. If this keeps up, I will adopt a new Let Them Blow On Toilet Paper attitude.

Because that's how I roll. And I'm NOT going to let them eat cake.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Cry A Single Garbage Indian Tear For Uncle Sam

I took a look at our taxes today. About a 4-hour look. Missouri has gone completely wonky. It used to be a thin little booklet with freaky instructions that read like a math puzzle: divide your number by two. Now multiply by 16. Get up and run a circle around your chair. Salute the cuckoo clock. Divide by 16. Multiply that answer by two. Separate your income to show what percent each spouse earned. Combine the incomes for each spouse to get your total income.

Yeah. It really was kind of odd, like they were just putting your through math boot camp to see if you were cheating. Now it has a bunch of extra forms referring back to Federal forms. I'm planning to jump through the hoops, but at my own pace.

Now here's something disturbing. I swear that I read something about deducting rent. YOU HEARD ME! Deducting RENT! Maybe I didn't read closely enough, but I'm sure I saw something in there about deducting RENT! Do you mean to tell me that I can only deduct my mortgage interest, and not my payments, but that people who do not own property or pay property taxes can deduct their freakin' RENT? Is that what is says, people? Because I've got to do some studyin' on these tax forms. That doesn't seem right, now does it? I found it here online, on p. 20 or p. 17 depending on whether you go by the document or the html version page number. Property Tax Credit Claim my a$$. It says RENTERS can claim it. I swear. Missouri is off it's ever-lovin' rocker, by cracky! (In the event that I misread this travesty of tax law...never mind.)

And another thing...I've got to jump through more hoops to see if I can qualify my kids for a Federal child tax credit. Not anything extra or special like an additional child tax credit, or child care tax credit. Nope. Just the basic child tax credit. We've qualified every year. After all, they ARE children. Maybe I need 14 kids. Then I bet I'd get a hefty tax refund--even if I didn't work in 2008. Apparently, my children don't count. They must be secret adults, supporting themselves. Oh, or maybe we're so fabulously wealthy because we don't spend any money on raising our kids. Yeah. I could understand that. If I got government child care for them, and food, and medical, and free school lunch & breakfast, yeah. I could see why I wouldn't get a break on my taxes for them, because they are being supported by other taxpayers. WAIT A MINUTE! Those people DO get a child tax credit, and additional child tax credits, and oh, let's see...earned income credit for the income they don't earn.

I'm fit to be tied. Uncle Sam is a backwards fool at tax time. He's grown senile, or is being elder-abused by those elected officials, the ones who don't even pay their OWN taxes.

And while my eyeballs are popping out of my head, did you see the picture of that homeless guy at the photo op for Michelle Obama? You know, the homeless guy taking her picture on his cell phone while going through the line for free food? How'd he do that? How'd he get a cell phone if he doesn't have a home or money to eat? Where do they sent the bill for his cell phone? Oh, I get it. Maybe he has a pay-as-you-go account. That way, he can use his free money from the government for being homeless to pay for a cell phone. Yeah. That must be it. I'm sure those homeless people like to text each other all day long, what with not being hampered by a job or housekeeping chores or whatnot.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Bones To Pick

I have a bone to pick with a certain faculty member of the gymnasium persuasion. He outed me to my class of techies. HOW DARE HE!

We were in the midst of a discussion of why I would not put in a good word with the ParkingSpaceStealer for one of the problem children. Actually, I was in the midst of taking roll for this multitude of techies, but I can multitask. Problem Child has an accomplice who acts as his attorney. I declined to put in a positive comment, as I have daily trials and tribulations with Problem Child. Problem Child asked, "Wouldn't I make a good lawyer, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom?" His accomplice said, "Here now. I am the lawyer." I told Problem Child, "Actually, you make a better..um...uh...criminal." Just then, the female hyena-laugher sitting behind Problem Child and the Attorney said, "Client?" Yes. "That's the word I was looking for."

The nature of Problem Child's problem with ParkingSpaceStealer was that he said something about her. To her face. About her age. Oh no he di'n't! He is not known for his common sense, our Problem Child. So I told him I most certainly would not defend him, what with merely two years ago having someone (I turned to look at Professional Victim, sitting in the front row) tell me that I was so old my Social Security # was '1'. And furthermore, that if anybody told me to act my age, I would drop dead. Uh huh. This is why I need summers off. Several students (and I use that term loosely) remembered that exchange.

It was at that time that the GymRat walked in to give a jacket to Mr. Sneaky. I filled him in on the ageist political incorrectness that was running rampant. All he had to do was play along with my point that it's not proper to mention a lady's age. I'm always happy to ensnare a classroom visitor into my web of faux outrage. But no. GymRat said, making his exit, "Well, she was teaching when I was a student here."

OK, that's technically correct, but he was very young! The kids mouths dropped open. Just two weeks ago, one of them guessed that I am 35 years old. So I said, "Of course, Coach GymRat was talking about Mrs. ParkingSpaceStealer." Some of them bought it. Some of them didn't. Some of them said, "He's crazy."

Why'd he have to do me like that?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Boy Geniuses

The #1 son's academic team placed 2nd in the conference tournament last night. He didn't get home until 10:45, which is not right for a middle school child. Whoever decided that tournament would run over one night needs to be deprived of sleep and locked in a room with 30 middle school students who have also been deprived of sleep.

#1's team received a bye the first round, then played games at 5:15, 6:30, and 7:45. I don't know what went horribly wrong, but #1 called his dad at 9:15 and said they were starting the 4th quarter. There were probably teams that arrived late for the first round. Too bad, so sad. Keep the thing on schedule. Maybe a forfeit would assure their punctuality next year. We've had teams show up over 30 minutes late this year. That is just irresponsible.

The #1 son also ferreted out the information that the genius kid on the team who beat them has entered the Physics division of the regional science fair. My boy has won the Physics division for the past two years. This year, his project is in the Engineering category. This is the genius kid's first entry in Physics. I think they both breathed a sigh of relief. The genius won the overall title last year.

In other boy genius news, Basementia Buddy has ordered me to FOIL my son thoroughly this weekend. The conference math contest is on Tuesday. FOIL means how to multiply problems such as (4 + x)(3 - y). I've got it covered. First, Outer, Inner, Last. That's how you multiply to get the answer of 12 - 4y + 3x - xy. I don't know why kids think this is so hard. It's much easier than slope, which my boy says he has mastered, but which I have some mental block about, because I always have to consult Math Mabel, even though I remember her motto of "You have to rise before you can run."

On the horizon, we have math contest, all-district choir, freshman orientation, science fair, academic banquet, and athletic banquet. Not to mention all of MY stuff. The school year is starting to fly. Finally.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Random Thought Thursday 3-05-09

HH the scavenger called me this morning while I was trying to make breakfast for myself and The Pony and wake the #1 son from his catatonic slumber. "Guess what I found in the middle of the road?" OK, I'm playing this game...NOT! That's fine, because without skipping a beat, HH let the cat out of the bag. "It's a concrete saw. I bet it costs several hundred dollars." I asked the unnecessary question. "Did you pick it up?" Does a chicken at the Mansion fly out of the dog pen on the very first day and get chewed up by the hounds and then later get used as a weapon to flog said hounds? You bet your a$$ HH picked up that saw. He didn't feel the least bit of remorse. "It probably fell off the truck of somebody who cuts through here. If I didn't pick it up, someone else would." More on this later.

I asked my students about the sub yesterday. It's a little game I call I Can Make You Confess Your Crimes Even Without Any Evidence To Use As Leverage. Perhaps I need to shorten that name before I turn it into a board game and market it at teacher's conventions. "Does anybody have anything they want to tell me before I read the note the sub left me? Anybody? Are you sure?" The sub left me a note that only mentioned one class as being 'a little loud'. I figured everything went well, because the room was not trashed, and nobody tried to tell me a dirty joke that the sub told them. The problem children of the techie variety sang like canaries, especially after I told them, "The sub left me a note with two names on it. Who do you think they are?" All the usual suspects were mentioned. One even confessed that the sub didn't like it when he laid down on the floor to take a nap. Without a doubt, this has got to be the most immature group of 11th graders I have ever encountered in my life. Anyhoo...after major confessions, I filled them in that the two names on the note were the two students who were absent yesterday. Nobody complained. I think they admired my shady tactics.

I had to rename my at-risk class today. I only found this out after I had searched through my old flash drive and found some 4-year-old course descriptions, and updated them, and printed them out, because the principal told me the counselor needed them right now. How dare the State of Missouri take my old course name initials and make a new statewide test by that name. Fie on you, DESE! How very dare you!

I love a good dill pickle.

LunchBuddy said that when the principal brought in her check this morning, one of the kids yelled out, "Do you think gay people are born gay, or they make a choice to be gay?" Apparently, it was a discussion they were having before he walked in. I don't think he gave an opinion. I said, "Well, of course they're born that way. Who would make a choice like that?" LunchBuddy said that's what the kid believed, but his girlfriend argued that "God wouldn't make a person gay." He said, "Why not? God makes people who are handicapped." Then LunchBuddy added that sometimes WE cause people to be born handicapped, according to things we do when we're pregnant. I don't know what she was getting at. Is there a vast conspiracy dedicated to making people gay? That's one I haven't heard about yet.

HH was only concrete-saw rich for a few hours. When he got home, he drove the Scout around asking the neighbors if they lost anything valuable. The neighbor right across the road from us, in the old LandStealer's house, said he lost a concrete saw. Poor HH. I think he is still tasting that sausage from the pot-bellied pets he 'found'.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Omens

I went to the hospital for some tests today. That would be all I needed to say, if Hillbilly Mom led a normal life. But no. Nothing is ever simple for Hillbilly Mom.

To start things off, on the normal way to school at the normal time, to drop off my spawn for a day plumb chock full o' learnin', I encountered a bicyclist. You don't understand. Around here, people don't ride bicycles. Not unless they drive their bikes up to the 11-mile trail at the state park, and park at the parking lot where students tell me gay guys meet, and that you know who is looking for some action because they back into the parking places. Which makes me regret the times I used to park there and walk the trail, carefully backing my car into a slot.

Anyhoo, the point is that I was on the old road by the lake, and it is downhill for about 3 miles, and nobody in his right mind would push a bike up a 3-mile hill just to ride it back down later. This is curvy, hilly, two-lane, no-shoulder blacktop without even a center line, though at one time I think one existed, because sometimes I get a faint glimpse of faded yellow paint down the center crack. I popped up over a hill and rounded a right-hand curve, and there he was, smack-dab in the middle of my lane, with a car coming in the opposite direction. I slammed on my brakes, hoping the dude in the metallic blue dually who was tailgating me could stop in time. The pedestri-cyclist yanked his bike into the ditch where there should have been shoulder, and I proceeded. Talk about a bad omen...

The kids were dropped off without further ado, and I proceeded to my mom's house, because she had volunteered to drive me. I saw that her car was out of the garage, and that she had the windows open, which was kind of odd, since the temperature was 28 degrees. We got in, and she started laughing, and said, "I guess you noticed." Thinking that she was referring to my big-mouthed children's yakking about how, "Mom says your car stinks like a barnyard, but you just say 'Oh, it's that new car smell' even though you've had this car for 8 years," I told her I knew why she had the windows down. She then commenced to tell me that, "I went out to the garage to move the car, and I thought, 'What is that SMELL?' Then I recognized it. It was from that perm I got yesterday. Boy, did it stink! I knew you wouldn't like it, so I rolled down the windows." I let that one go.

At the hospital, I looked over the counter past the palsied hand of the old man volunteer, and saw that I was scheduled for TWO tests, one at 8:30 and one at 9:30. This was not what the doctor's secretary had told me over the phone. She had stated that depending on the results of the first one, they might want to do the second one. So that put me off right then and there. What am I, some kind of cash cow with two insurances? Don't answer that. I consider it another bad omen.

The first test was given right on time, by a short blond lady who I think is the aunt of one of the Basementia teachers, as I've had her before for a lab tech. She took a super long time to process the results, and said she was taking it to the radiologist, and was gone another good long time. She came back and said there was currently no doctor available to read the results, and that it was not yet time for my second test, because the other tech had another patient. She draped me in not-quite-clothing and sent me packing back to the waiting room.

This I did not like. Sure, it was a 'private' waiting room, but there are six chairs, and I've been there when it was packed. My mom and I enjoyed about 10 minutes of privacy and then it happened. The lights started flashing and a hideously LOUD buzzer sounded for about 30 seconds. There was an announcement over the PA system, "Mrs. Red is at the ER desk." Gosh-darn that Mrs. Red! How dare she demand so much freakin' attention! I told my mom there must be an emergency that needed all responders possible. Then that little blond lady came to the outside door of our waiting room, and said, "I'm just going to close this door. We're having a fire drill." Great. At least they didn't make me trek outside without even a coat (because my loving mother dropped me off at the door and then parked and dodged the little trolley man) with all my bits and pieces hanging out. How many of you have ever been subjected to a freakin' fire drill at a hospital. Bad omen.

At the stroke of 9:30, my other lab tech, 'Sharon', came to get me. She told my mom to stay put, told me to bring my clothes, and took me into her lair across the hall. A pleasanter lab tech you'll never meet than Sharon. She made just the right amount of small talk, performed her duties, reperformed her duties, told me that they never know when they're having a fire drill, discussed the hospital benefits system, professed that kids these days need to learn how to follow the rules or get the paddle, explained how their computer records system forwards lab info straight to the doctor's computer, told me to expect my results from the doctor within 48 hours, said that I could pick up a copy of the records for myself on Friday but that it would cost me unless I was picking them up to take to a doctor, nudge nudge, then held the door open for me, and whispered behind her hand, "I wouldn't lose any sleep over this."

Sharon ROCKS!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Butcher, The Waker, The Graduate Maker

I will be absent from school on Wednesday, what with some medical testing to be done. Those lab techs have the NERVE to work regular nine-to-five hours. How dare they! And not even a rousing rendition of The Esteemed Miss Parton's Nine-To-Five will they be singing during my testing.

Everybody knows how much Mrs. Hillbilly Mom hates to miss work. Mabel knows especially well. It is she who declares that after Mrs. HM is gone, people will not say, "That Hillbilly Mom! She never missed work!" Nope. Mabel swears they will say, "Who's Hillbilly Mom?" She's good for my ego, that Mabel. She encourages me to wake up and smell the coffee. And she even volunteered to take one of her own sick days to accompany me to the butcher shop--er--hospital. Isn't that sweet?

My own dear mother, she of the 4-year-old ranch dressing Thanksgiving faux pas, volunteered ahead of Ms Mabel, so I regretfully declined the offer. I swear, sometimes, that Mabel is nearly a Mother Teresa.

Here's some top secret news. Shh...don't tell anybody. Only two people know right now, and one of them is ME. It's not set in stone yet, but there is talk that next school year, my schedule may be different. Different as in better for me. Different as in only one prep instead of three. You heard me! Virtually a 67% reduction in preparation for my classes, with my salary staying the same as ever. Can't beat THAT with a stick, huh Bean, my dear old friend with an appreciation of colloquial vernacular?

What brings about this change, you ask? A small class moving ahead through the ranks, for one. Not as many sections are needed, and common sense says why split the remaining sections between two teachers? Also, we're looking at a new direction that is actually a U-turn in the old direction in helping At-Risk students. We have OH SO MANY options to help them these days, but apparently none has had the success of our old At-Risk program. Soo...not to toot my own horn, but my opinion was asked, and I gladly gave it, and there just might be a return to the old way of making these kids utilize their time under my watchful eye and demanding regime so that they do not fail from lack of effort. It's a re-structuring, if you will, a return to the general in lieu of the specific. A reversal of the double dose theory, reverting back to the four-core extra help, extra time, extra accountability model.

Yeah. And why was I the lucky recipient of this program? Perhaps because I've done it before with success. Perhaps because some people work better with this type of kid than others. Perhaps because I can be a student's best asset or worst nightmare.

I'm ready to take on the challenge again. It's only for two classes. I'll still get my four sections of freshman physics. It's the perfect balance.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Skipper Learns A Lesson

We had our next-to-next-to-last faculty meeting today. It's always the first Monday of the month. Seven down, two to go! The school year is creeping its way toward the end. It shuffles along in stretched-out slippers, its toes hanging over the front sole, scuffing its way to graduation like an old lady in assisted living stumping next door, the tennis-ball-covered feet of her walker whispering along the dull, stained linoleum, on a relentless mission to scam some horehound candy from the Alzheimer's patient next door.

The perception of time should now allow for the old adage: The School Year Is Almost Over, You Know! With testing and banquets and deadlines approaching, time will shed its dog days of winter training wheels, pump up its tires, taxi out onto the runway, whistle for Orville and Wilbur, and take off into the sunset of the 2008-2009 school year.

But today, this instant, we're still rooted to the ol' terra firma. An in this reality, Mrs. HM is grounded. She has a bone to pick with her #1 son. The son who was sick last week, but went to school, and was allowed to skip one academic team practice and one math contest practice. He was truly sick, and crawled into his Mansion bed and slept upon arriving home, requiring an awakening for sustenance when the evening meal was served.

However...he did not work on his math packet over the weekend as he promised. He stated this morning that there was no academic practice after school, and was told to check and make sure, and call Mrs. HM if he needed to stay. During 6th hour, Mrs. HM called Basementia to check with the academic coach on the time of the conference tournament on Thursday. Our team has lost only one game, and is anticipating the second seed in the tournament. It was during this conversation that Mrs. HM found out that there was academic practice today from 3:00 to 5:00. She informed the coach that #1 had not called, but that he needn't panic after school, as now Mrs. HM knew about the practice, and would come pick him up at 5:00 after her next-to-next-to-last faculty meeting.

Upon arrival back in her room at 3:45 after the meeting, planning to get some work done over the next hour, Mrs. HM was informed by The Pony that #1 was in the computer lab with his buddy. Mrs. HM was not pleased, and if, perhaps, the word 'ballistic' flits through your mind at this time, rest assured that it is fitting. Mrs. HM called #1 and commanded him to report for sentencing.

#1 must have rehearsed his story en route up the long, long hallway. He said that he didn't KNOW there was practice, since nobody told him, except for the Lefthand Man on academic team just one minute before the bell. Never mind that Basementia has phones that (gasp!) can communicate with Newmentia. Never mind that #1 was specifically told this morning to check and see if there was practice.

Mrs. HM told #1 to gather his stuff--she was driving him back to Basementia for the last hour of practice. #1 was having none of that, declaring that practice was stupid, and that HE didn't need to practice anyway, since they were just two-year-old questions that would not be asked at the tournament. Mrs. HM promised to call the academic coach and explain that #1 would not be allowed to go to the tournament on Thursday, since he had intentionally skipped practice. #1 did not think that promise would be kept, but was more unsure of the follow-through on the second promise to require him to sit in the (GASP!) living room all evening instead of in his room with all its electronic glory. He gathered his things and away we flew to Basementia.

#1 pretended not to follow the line of reasoning about the star of the basketball team not skipping practice even though he was the best, or the question about whether Mrs. HM could simply skip the next faculty meeting, since she knows everything anyway.

Life is OH SO FULL of teachable moments.