Monday, September 29, 2008

Peanuts and Grapes

Last weekend was such a gorgeous step into Fall - even with the rain. I am finishing up the canning, making Cortland apples into sauce and the house smells all crisp with tendrils of cloves and cinnamon curling into the cool breeze that politely eases through the kitchen window, ruffling the curtains only slightly.

My little peanut wanders into this cornucopia of autumn, searching for red grapes. More grapes, actually, since this would be her second helping.

"Wow," she chirps. "I'm starving."

I am one of those moms. The mom who won't let her kids say "I'm starving." It's just a thing with me and the Nut has always accepted it without question. Until today. So when she says "I'm starving," I respond with the usual:

"Oh, honey, we say 'I'm very hungry,' and not 'I'm starving.'"


"Because they're really children who are starving."

"Like me?"

"No, honey, children who don't have enough food to eat, so they are dying from not having enough food."

"I'M DYING?!?!"

"No, NO, you are NOT DYING. We have plenty of food to eat. You are just very hungry."

"I'm really not dying?"


"Whew! 'Cause that would be unnecessary!"

I dropped to my knees and gathered her up in a big hug, telling her "I love you, my little peanut," shaking with giggles.

I then buried my head back in the sauce pot and wondered if all seven-year-olds were like this or is it just mine?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

fireworks and ice cream

I am more than a little amazed. In my line of work, kudos are rare; I mean, really, the teacher usually only gets a call when someone is pissed or worried. So when someone says, "hey, you're alright after all" it's the same as fireworks and a cheesecake flurry on a sweet summer night. With no bugs.

And I would like to apologize for taking so long to pay it forward. I have that icky cold with the nasal drip, papers due for my masters' course, and, yeah, the rest. But here they are: this is my most awesome friend whose blog I seriously check several times a day. She is a talented photographer whose pictures just capture the essence and joy in every person. I love them. Is it creepy to want to be her friend? She has a hilarious, sharp, and real way of writing - the kind of writing I try to get from my students. Well, except for the part about her husband's boobs. Funny from her, but parents would complain.
I have laughed so hard reading her stories that I had to change my sweatpants. Who else would have an army of angry Transvestite Lego people that bear a crazy resemblance to Tony Orlando? I love reading what is going on in her life because she is like me - I feel like when I leave comments I'm just taking up my end of the conversation. It's all her fault I started this blogmadness. She was the first I read - I stumbled upon it while I was researching her for my bookclub (yep, English teacher nerd flag, right there). She is an amazing artist and I love that I get a little more of her writing nearly every day. Plus she keeps dangling a "mailing list" and "fabulous prizes" to keep us coming back. uh, he has Mystery Science Theater as his banner, which makes me love him without question. I like it that he asks questions of his readers and responds to the answers! He is such a fun, awesome read! Her story has touched me, intrigued me, and her humor has kept me coming back. Plus, who knew Canadians could be rednecks?

Those are my favorites, the ones I faithfully read every day. Their stories have inspired me to tell my own and I thank you all for that.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My classroom was taken over by the uber-geek squad. Seriously, not only were they a computer -installation team of seven, but they even wore matching wind breaker suits. I shit you not. I hadn't even realized that they still even made that material since 1984. Fortunately, one of them looked remarkably like Christian Slater, so I chalked it up as a win.

They bustled in, like a swat-team from Revenge of the Nerds, to install my Polyvision board (which is an interactive white board that hooks up to my laptop and I can do all these crazy educational things. oh, um, wait - who's the geek in this story?). I remained at my desk after greeting them, looking all very teacher-busy on my laptop. The plan was to hang the Polyvision board between my two chalkboards, which was really going along very nicely until I noticed that they were NOT HANGING IT LEVEL TO THE CHALKBOARDS. Anyone with a touch of OCD will completely understand my instant stress. So I ask, "Um, excuse me, but could you, like, hang it so it's the same height as the chalkboards?" The ALL turn to stare at me, the only sound the faint rubbing of nylon. "I don't mean to be a bother," I stammer on, "but, um, well, it leaves like a gap."

There is a long pause. The Christian Slater's stunt-double takes a breath and slowly, since I am obviously a mite on the slow side, "that's so the handicapped children can reach it."

"gegh" is all I can manage. They turn back to their task as I ever so gently put my face upon my desk, remaining prone until I hear the last power drill and extension cord packed away, and the soft rustle of nylon as they softly click the door shut behind their exit.

And I wonder why I have yet to win Teacher of the Year.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

It's NOT ok to swear at Christmas?

Today in class I was lecturing/giving notes - something I rarely do - about Joseph Campbell's
The Hero's Journey. Rather than have them read that book and The Golden Bough, I condense it all into notes and we use those notes for all the novels we read, and in one step the Hero usually has to run away, but I have it written "get the heck out of Dodge."

This reminded me of one Christmas a few years ago when the nut was only three or four. We were at Aunt Sharon's, like we are every Christmas evening, with my husbands ENTIRE family. I was sitting by the Christmas tree, snuggled up with the nut in one of those chair-and-a-halfs, when the now 11-year-old, then 7, decided to join in on the cuddle-fest. The nut hates to share, but tolerated him, it being Christmas and all. Then the older girls, 14 and 16, decided to clamber on. The nut was now pissed. She wormed her way out of the mix, yanked blanky out from under one of her sister's butts, and gave all of us the most silent, darkest glare that I have ever been on the receiving end of. I would have never even thought one so tiny and innocent had such ferocity, such righteous indignation within. Oh, but she dug deep and found it. And then stalked off, her tiny spine ramrod straight.

I laughed and said "she certainly knew when to get the hell out of Dodge."

The middle daughter poked me hard - it hurt - in the ribs and said "MOM DON'T SWEAR IT'S CHRISTMAS! And you're being a terrible role model (yes, this is actually how she talks) - the CHILDREN (looking pointedly at my stepson) will think it's ok to SWEAR TOO!" As I laughed, saying oh no, he wouldn't, don't be silly, the boy of the family slowly stood, turned to face us, and said, "oh yeah?"

He leaned in, our attention riveted, and whispered: