Monthly Archives: May 2012

Wore, and Other Bits of Profanity

When secondary school students walk into a classroom and see an unfamiliar adult, their immediate question is always, “Are you the sub?” Followed by either an inquiry into where the teacher has gone, or what we are going to do today.

When elementary students walk into the room, their first question is much more direct: “Are you nice?”

Rarely, if ever, do any of them expect me to actually know answers to anything more complicated than that. I actually had an argument with a second grader yesterday.

Me: “Mr. Phillips would like us to correct these sentences on the board. Who would like to read the first one for us?”

Cute Little Girl: “Yesterday, the boy where a hat to school.”

Me: “Do you see anything wrong with that sentence?”

Cute Little Girl: “Yeah, it should be the other wear, like w-e-a-r.”

I rub out “where” and replace it with “wear”. “Is that better?”

Half the class looks doubtful. The other half agree with her.

Hesitant Little Boy: “I don’t think that’s right, either.”

Me: “What do you think it should be?”

HLB: “Wore?”

I start to rub out “wear”, but I am interrupted by Adamant Little Boy.


Me: “ALB, did you have something to add?”

ALB: “It’s WEAR, not WORE. DUH.”

I assure him that HLB was actually correct, and I have him read both sentences out loud, hoping that maybe channeling the words through his own mouth will convince him of the truth. He still doesn’t believe me.

ALB: “The boy WEAR a hat to school. Geez. Wore is like those bad words we aren’t supposed to say.”

Me: “Are you thinking of swore?”

ALB: “No–wore, like cuss words.”

Me: “Hmm. Well, I’ve never heard that used as a cuss word. And in Mr. Phillip’s sentence, it’s wore, as in he had a hat on yesterday. Yesterday, the boy wore a hat to school.”

ALB rolls his eyes and looks at me like I’m a complete idiot. “Whatever,” he says. Then he writes down his version of the sentence, and all his tablemates dutifully copy him. After all, what could a sub possibly know?

I’m trying to imagine the conversation around his dinner table tonight. “Hey, Mom! You know that word Pedro isn’t allowed to call his Marissa anymore? Our teacher tried to make us use it in a sentence today!”

Actually, I pretty much try not to imagine the conversations that occur after I leave the classroom. And here’s to hoping I find a real job soon. Before I ever again have to sub for a high school weightlifting or an all-male industrial arts class. The other PE teacher during my weightlifting gig assured me that the class was actually Cell Phone Usage/Checking Ourselves out in the Mirror 101, and not to worry about it. Just stand there for 90 minutes at a stretch, and try to prevent bloodshed and/or too much intimacy from occurring. The industrial arts class was 3 hours and 15 minutes long. It consisted of 10 males: 6 Mexicans, 2 Russians, and 2 Caucasians, with unlimited access to power tools. Most of them wanted to kill each other.  And/or accuse one another of sexual perversions I am pretty sure you have never heard of.

Today’s “health” class for high school freshmen who are euphemistically labelled “historically unable to succeed in school” was interesting also.  Who knew that “rape” could be a possible answer to every. single. question.


Subbing in middle school band tomorrow. Giddy with excitement, over it, too.



Mothers and Masters

Sitting in church on Mother’s day, listening to the speaker–a mother, naturally. She says something about how when her kids come home from other people’s houses they have these stories about elaborate crafts and fancy birthday cakes, etc, etc, and how she really doesn’t do any of that stuff.

My nine-year-old turns to me and his eyes are enormous. He says, “MOM! She’s like you!”

The poor deluded child thought he was the only one in the world shortchanged in the mother department.

My sister is one of those other mothers. You know the ones. The over-the-top, incredibly crafty, talented women. She’s interior designer, artist, photographer, hyper energetic, all that and more.

I have been known to put candles in carton of ice cream and call it a birthday party.

But I’m okay with that. Something about being closer to forty than thirty maybe, inclines you to make peace with yourself. My kids will get different things from me than hers will from her, and they’ll all probably survive.

If nothing else, I do hope mine come away from their childhood with an appreciation of what effort can do. I see it more and more in the schools–a disconnect in the brains of our youth between effort and achievement. I want, more than anything, to see my kids grow up understanding that all that lies between them and a wonderful life are their own choices.

I agreed to sub for an “elementary school PE teacher” today. The electronic job description didn’t mention that this particular elementary teacher also teaches three classes over at the middle/high school.  Sixty minutes in a weightlifting room with 40+ boys, only three of whom actually lift weights. The teacher’s instructions: “Don’t worry about them doing anything. They just take this class so they can mess around with their cell phones.”

Apparently this is acceptable. It makes me absolutely crazy to see how many students sit around in one holding pen after the next, just waiting for the bell to ring. This is not education. But that was the subject of my thesis. What I really meant to do here was to post a picture, especially for those of you who inspired me to go back to school two years ago and earn my master’s degree. Two master’s degrees, in fact, and a third just one thesis shy of completion:

A Stitch In Time

Yesterday, I:

Ran five miles.

Drove 242 miles to defend my thesis.

Received a text from my sons requesting advice about what to do when the contents of the toilet, upon flushing it, come out between said toilet and the bathroom floor.

Realized I still hadn’t picked up more black satin.

Today, I:

Assured my editor that those four articles really will be done by next week.

Bought more black satin. And wax toilet rings. And bolts.

Did some interviews, found some more contacts.

Attended a informational meeting to decide whether or not I should agree to put my name on the ballot in November for PCO of O’Sullivan Dam 1. (I probably am, unless I can find someone else to do it.)

Finished altering my daughter’s prom dress. With minutes to spare. Literally.

This was at 5:59. And yes, in three inch heels, she really is 6’3″ tall.

At 6:02, her date arrived:

With a killer corsage:

And a very nice smile:

I think I like this kid. And it was a strange thing… to stand there, realizing that my daughter is a beautiful girl, and that I like her choice of young men (and not just because he’s leaving the country for two years in August, either!) and that relatively soon, we could be repeating this process, with a very different dress, in very different circumstances. Egad.

I was asked a month or so ago, if it was going to be hard, to let her go this fall. I laughed and said “No–she already left. We never see her anymore.”

But it was different, seeing her this way. Wonderful, and yet… well. You have either been in my shoes and know how it feels, or you don’t.

She really is leaving, isn’t she?