Monthly Archives: February 2009

A Pox on Thee, Dav Pilkey!

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This morning after recess, we took a few minutes out of class time to practice for the talent show.  With the big night only two weeks away, the kids have been buzzing with excitement, visions of their own American Idol moments dancing through their heads as we work on our bring-down-the-house kindergarten musical numbers: Magalena Hagalena, Grandpa’s Farm, and the class favorite, Fishy.

“Have you ever seen a fishy on a hot summer’s day?

Have you ever seen a fishy out swimming in the bay?

With his hands in his pockets and his pockets in his pants,

Have you ever seen a fishy do the Hootchie-Kootchie Dance?”

We’ve sung it a thousand times, but during today’s practice session, the giggles and squeals grew progressively louder, exceeding the usual gleeful enjoyment that accompanies each child’s personal interpretation of the “Hootchie-Kootchie Dance.”

I looked around for the source of the uproar, and there he was.

My son.

His jeans were puddled down around his knees, his Disney Cars underwear boldly flashing back and forth as he clapped in time to the song’s rowdy chorus.

“Caleb!” I screeched.

The note of hysteria in my voice finally penetrated the cloud of delighted chaos that had overtaken the class at the sight of one of their classmates in his underwear.  A hush descended as they all waited to see what hideous repercussions might befall the perpetrator of such a shocking act.

What are you doing?” I hissed.  “Pull your pants up!  Why are you doing that???”

He did as I asked.  Finally, nearing tears, he explained, “Mom, I was just showing everybody the Underpants Dance!”

Oh.

Oh, no.

Oh, no, no, no.

I recognized that dance.  Somewhere inside, I had always known that my carefree, lackadaisical attitude toward juvenile reading material would one day come back to haunt me.  As it turned out, today was that day.

My baby, my precious little boy, had been hopelessly corrupted…by Captain Underpants.

I tried to continue with the class, but, as with a natural disaster or a cataclysmic world event, there was no going back to normal life without a pause for closure.  We finished singing our other songs, and I looked around to see Caleb, dejected, staring at the floor, barely moving his lips.  As the class took their seats, I gently asked him, “What’s wrong, bub?”

“I’m embarrassed about myself, Mom.”

“It’s okay, buddy,” I reassured him with a hug, having had enough time to recover my own composure.  “You didn’t know.  And everybody in here still likes you just fine.  Right, class?”

“Right!” they echoed dutifully.

“For future notice, though–and this is a rule for everyone,” I emphasized, raising my gaze to take in the entire room, “Underwear is private.  You’re not supposed to show it to anyone else.  Okay?”

“Okay!”

And just like that, it was over.  We moved on to math, and the incident wasn’t mentioned again all day.

Still, a part of me is waiting for that phone call from an irate parent demanding to know just what kind of talent show we’re running here.

Sick Day

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bacteria

Well, it was bound to happen.  I’m only surprised that it took this long.

After five months of inexplicable good health, I finally caught the Kindergarten Krud.

In a room full of kids just learning the ins and outs of nose-blowing and hand-washing, germs abound.  Today, for example, I caught one of my students using a Kleenex she had just sneezed in to “wash” her desk.  Though I instantly cordoned off the area and hosed it down with hand sanitizer, it made me wonder how many other incidents of inadvertent plague-spreading escape my notice every day.  Kindergarten is a place for hugs and hand-holding and sharing snacks and trading pencils.  It’s also a place where germs meet, fall in love, and have millions of offspring–a roiling, boiling kettle of bacterial diversity.

Apparently, my very robust immune system has met its microscopic match.  It started Tuesday with a tickle in my throat.  By Wednesday, my nose was running and my voice was hoarse.  And today, it feels like a tiny army of dwarves is mining the inside of my skull with picks and shovels and illegally dumping the debris in my lungs.

So tomorrow I’m taking a sick day.

It’s my first (and hopefully only) sick day this year.  Unfortunately, it’s also the school’s annual Skate Party day, when all the students are loaded into cars and driven over to the local skating rink to spend the day skating circles around their less graceful teachers.  I was really looking forward to breaking out my old backwards skating moves and revisiting the Hokey Pokey.  Instead, I’m going to be hacking away in a sea of Kleenex, waiting for the ibuprofen to put the dwarves to sleep.

This is so not fair.

Fortunately, I have an amazing room mother coming in tomorrow morning to save the day.  She’ll be herding kids in my place and making sure the class gets where it needs to go.  So at least if I have to forgo glory under the disco lights, I know my class is taken care of and having fun.

I’ll just have to save my sweet limbo skillz for another time.

Prince Charming

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(An online friend of mine who writes a feature column in the local newspaper is doing a special on love stories to celebrate Valentine’s Day.  I was delighted when he asked me to contribute a few paragraphs about my romance with Paul.  I thought I’d post my contribution here, too.  If you’d like, use the comments to share what you love best about your Valentine!)

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He wasn’t wearing armor or waving a banner, and his lemon yellow Oldsmobile Omega was about as far from a noble steed as you could get, so when my white knight showed up one unassuming August day in the hallowed halls of Harding University, I very nearly missed him.

Like so many single girls, I’d spent years dreaming up my own vision of Prince Charming—some impossible combination of Antonio Banderas and Atticus Finch, gorgeous and intelligent and whimsical and high-minded and mysterious and transparent and powerful and gentle and confident and humble and…and, and, and. In short, he was the perfect man.

Thankfully, he was entirely fictional. Had I ever actually met him, I’m quite certain he would have driven me crazy.

Instead, I found Paul. Or he found me. It was sort of a mutual finding, taking shape over long afternoon walks and dollar menu dates. And in the years since, my picture of Prince Charming has been gloriously remade in the image of the wonderful, stumbling, passionate, funny, amazing man that I married. He snores. He tells the same jokes over and over. He forgets to write things down in the checkbook. He gets cranky when he hasn’t eaten in a while. And when I am lying buried under a heap of worries and frustrations, he is the one who puts a strong shoulder under the pile and helps me carry it along. From his willingness to take on the tasks that I hate (like dealing with the phone company) to the spontaneous backrubs he gives when he can tell I’ve had a crazy day, everything Paul does sends the message: “We’re in this together, babe.”

Together, we specialize in laughter and finishing each other’s sentences. We play Scrabble ferociously. We fight and make up in almost the same breath, because pouting wastes precious time that would be much better spent discussing who would win in a fight between Batman and Spiderman. We go out a lot, but we’re secret homebodies, thankful when weather or cancellation or even sickness throws our plans to the wind and gifts us with a sweet night curled up on the couch in front of a movie.

“I married my best friend.” It’s inscribed on countless greeting cards and wedding invitations. It’s also written on the map of my life, the turning in the road that completely and forever changed my story. In this land, hand in hand with a real, live Prince, a two-bedroom apartment is a palace, a mud-splattered Ford Escort is a royal coach, and a Wendy’s Junior Bacon Cheeseburger is a feast.

I defy even Antonio Banderas to create that kind of magic.