First Grader

Today I was a first grader. Not for the entire day, just for lunch and recess. Here’s what I learned:

1. Lunch guests are instant celebrities. Everyone wanted to sit with me and tell me everything about their families, their pets, and their best friends. I spent an hour being the popular kid. It’s about time.

2. School lunches are better if you talk more than you eat.

3. You get in trouble if you talk more than you eat.

4. You know you’re in trouble when the supervisor has to blow her whistle, not once, not twice, but three times before all the kids stop talking.

5. My granddaughter has a boy friend that she really likes, but she doesn’t like like him, she just likes him. Intonation is everything.

6. I think I’m ready for 2nd grade now.

Peace, people.

Kindergarten Connection

I was fortunate to have attended kindergarten in the days before it was made mandatory. I’m sure Mrs. Parks, the owner and sole teacher of the school followed a curriculum, but I don’t remember it being a rigorous course of instruction.

My fellow classmates and I played and sang and created small works of art, while learning about the letters of the alphabet and how to count. A few children in the class learned to read that year. I wasn’t one of those children, but I used to tell people that I was. Nothing was forced as kindergarten learning seems to be nowadays.

At the end of that precious year Mrs. Parks directed us in a play to mark our graduation. One of my Floydada friends posted the picture of our class on Facebook this weekend. Weren’t we adorable?

That’s me on the back row. I’m the tall brown haired girl in the pink dress next to the headdress wearing brave and behind the tiny little doll in yellow.

I can still name all but two of my former classmates from the picture. Floydada is a small Texas town and I went to school with most of those pictured until my family moved to Dumas the summer before my senior year of high school. That was a tough move. I thought my world had ended, when it really was just beginning.

There’s really no message in this post, but our youngest granddaughter started kindergarten this year at a small school in Illinois, and I hope her memories of her year will someday be as sweet to her as mine are to me.

This is Harper on Ag day, which she preferred calling “Egg Day.” She’s a great deal sassier than I ever was. Heaven help us all.

Peace, people.

Workin’ It

After many months of being a domestic goddess I’m off to work again. Part of me is saying, “Woohoo” while the other part is asking, “What was I thinking?”

The toughest obstacle thus far this morning was dragging my feeble body out of bed when the 6 a.m. alarm sounded. I’d been wide awake since 4:30 either from anticipation or dread; I’m not certain.

Obstacle number two was getting dressed in something other than denim capris, a tshirt, and flip flops. I almost cried when I placed my feet in regular shoes. I’m so sorry, feet!

And instead of my normal brunch I had to eat breakfast! To ease the strain of eating something before 9 a.m. I stopped at Cinnabon and scarfed down a serving of Cinna minis with icing. My feet might hate me, but my tummy is so pleased.

Now, having arrived a full thirty minutes early for my assignment, I’m sitting in the car in front of a school in Tallahassee listening to Howard Stern and scanning the cars in the parking lot for my coworkers, none of whom I’ve met. Surely they’ll be easy to spot. We all have identical green suitcases packed with testing materials.

Wish me luck, friends. If you don’t hear from me again you’ll know I truly was allergic to work and couldn’t afford an epi pen.

Peace, people.

Harper’s Day to Ride the Bus

I wrote this piece awhile back for my youngest granddaughter who was two at the time and couldn’t understand why her older siblings got to ride the big yellow school bus and she didn’t.  

Harper D is now three, and today was officially her first day of Pre-K, but I thought it would be fun to revisit this mostly true poem.

  

“D Wants to Ride”

The big yellow bus came to D’s house today.

Garrett got on the big yellow bus.

McKayla got on the big yellow bus.

D could not get on the big yellow bus.

“You must be three, and you are only two,” said Garrett.
“You are way too little,” said McKayla.

“I am big,” said D.

“I can count,

I can sing,

I can climb,

I can swing.”

“Just one more year,” said Garrett.

“You will be a big girl next year,” said McKayla.

“But I AM a big girl!” Insisted D.

“I can play,

I can dance,

I can run

Really fast!”

“D,” said Garrett, “Be our baby for awhile.”

“D,” said McKayla, “Stay little for awhile.”

D thought and thought. “OK,” she said.
“I will be your baby for one more year.

I will still count and sing, climb and swing.

I will still play and dance and run very fast.

But next year I will get on the big yellow bus!”

“Bye, D,” said Garrett.

“Bye, D,” said McKayla.

“Bye big yellow bus!” said D. “I’ll see you next year.”

  
Peace, people!

Back to School

For many of my friends tomorrow marks the day parents long for, children dread, and teachers anticipate with a mixture of nervousness and excitement: The First Day of School.

Having taught I still have nightmares of the first day back. In these I’m usually standing in the middle of my beautifully decorated classroom trying to control 27 kids with hand gestures and fervent pleas to sit down while they run about in fevered chaos destroying all of my hard work.

The first day, so critical to the rest of the year, always left me flummoxed. When I taught elementary school, the first day was usually over by noon and still I struggled to find ways to fill those four hours. 

We practiced all of our procedures (how to line up to leave the room, how to request permission to use the restroom or the pencil sharpener, the proper heading for student class work, etc.). We got to know one another. We wrote our names in our textbooks and completed information cards. All that took roughly one hour, or one and a half if I spoke s-l-o-w-l-y.

I was much more suited to the middle school model. On that first day kids came in, we set our expectations, did a quick name game, and boom! It was time for the next class. I repeated that scenario three or four more times and day one was over.

Teaching tested my sanity, and I’m certain no one really misses my presence in the classroom, but I know some terrific educators at all levels. Some are starting at new schools this year, others are trying on new grade levels, while others are quite happy to be in the same school and grade they’ve been in for many years.

To each and every person who works with children, thank you and best of luck. Have a great school year.

 

Where was Pinterest when I was teaching?

Peace, people! 

To Drive or To Fly?

To say I am a logistics dunce is an understatement. Creating schedules, arriving at informed decisions around dates and times, brings on a headache every time. 

I stand in awe of those who fit together master schedules for schools, making sure each child in every class in every grade gets the required amount of time for the core subjects as well as physical education, music, library, and art, and builds in time for lunch and a recess as well. I’ve watched the process and trust me, it’s incredibly difficult. Never did I complain about scheduling lest someone hand the job over to me. 

But I digress. My current problem is trying to figure out whether it’s more cost efficient to drive or to fly to my daughter’s home in Illinois. If I were working it’d be a no-brainer. I’d need to fly to cut down on lost time at work. But, that’s not an issue.

Help me figure this out:

Flights: The lowest priced flights start at $456, but they have multiple connections. I hate multiple connections.

Driving: The distance from Havana, FL, to Rapid City, IL, is 1004.6 miles. Let’s call it an even grand.

My car averages 27 miles per gallon.

Studly and I used all of our hotel points on our last vacation, and I’ll need to stay two nights on the road. Let’s say I’ll spend about $120 per night.

If I choose my meals carefully I can eat for an average of $10 per meal. If I eat 10 meals on the road that’s $100. Let’s add in some snacks and call it $130.

Have I left anything out? 

There’s no prize for figuring out my best option, and I’ll most likely do what I want anyway, but if this stuff turns you on, go for it!

Peace, people!

  

Those Were the Days

  

Not anymore, but there was a time

When laundry piled up in baskets

And toys cluttered the floors.

Our mornings were hectic

Nothing ever in its place.

Keys always missing and 

Lunch money dispersed.

Backpacks with homework,

Field trip permission forms, and

Last minute projects forgotten til 8.

Life was chaotic, messy; an adventure.

Playground 

sixes and sevens charged headlong,
vying for first place in an
imaginary race to the monkey bars,
and the seesaws, and the slide.

Texas panhandle playground, dirt-covered
unkind to bared legs on cold, windy days
while archaic dress codes demanded
dresses be worn by little girls.

disregarding weather, firm, yet kind
educators shepherded their charges into
stinging maelstroms of gravelly sand.
it was for teachers’ sanity no doubt.

some days impromptu games of
following a self-appointed leader
consumed recess time, effectively
socially sorting first graders at play.

teeth were sometimes lost as children
clamored for a spot on the merry-go-round;
noggins often took bumps and lumps
slipping through monkey bars.

tears weren’t uncommon; neither was blood.
rules were simple: don’t push,
no tattling, leave the teachers alone.
tough, necessary playground lessons.

I lost one of my first baby teeth on a merry-go-round just like this.

 

It never occurred to us that monkey bars might be dangerous!
 
Teeter totters a.k.a. seesaws had all sorts of pinch points and other fun dangerous accoutrement. note: there are more trees in this photo than in my entire town .