Class Dismissed

I channeled Miss Emily Litela today as a parent chaperone on a field trip to the subversive produce mecca of the 17th Street Market, though I didn’t realize it at the time. For those of you not fortunate enough to be reared by parents who worked late into the night, thus allowing you unfettered access to comedians like the brilliant Gilda Radner, take a gander:

Oh, Big Brother and I spent hours dotting and crossing on Mom’s chalkboard! Perhaps this goes some distance explaining why I’m such a teacher groupie, or why I adore the cardigan, or why I can’t pee in the ocean. I think this skit was probably the inspiration behind my brother and I silently, or loudly, saying, “Vacuum!” to one another, though we did occasionally say, “Olive juice,” as well. There was no sport in letting our parents presume we liked each other. Our alliance was forged in secret. Such subversiveness allowed us far more nefarious activity than we otherwise would have enjoyed. When Big Brother is watching over you, you get to hang out at Expresso Royale. Oh, yes. And it went without saying there was nary a snitch about our willfully impious cherry vanilla Italian sodas or peppermint tea brewed in a French press. OUI!

That must have been when all went wrong. Espresso Royale, secret codes, and Miss Emily Litela. “Vacuum? I just did it yesterday. F*** you? Oh. That’s different! Nevermind.” But today was about olive juice with the kid I can actually claim to love in public without Olympic eye gymnastics. Hawt Mz invited us to name our favorite part of the market. Just because I played rugby doesn’t make me a fish fan, but I gotta say the fish monger was my favorite. Brett must have known because he took a picture. And looky who’s there with me!

Yes! I looked deep into the eyes of Emily Litela and hadn’t a clue as she and I mirrored each other’s every move and gesture and indoctrinating comment to future voters of America. At the same time, I think I’m an adequate foil to Hawt Mz, who made fun of me for taking my group to the frozen food isle to admire the ice cream and define decadent for first and second grade students. That’s right! They can’t hear POTUS tell them to stay in school, but it’s totally cool for Emily Litela to define decadent. And that my friends, is nefarious.

Teaching, Testing, Thinking

Today was the first day of school for Arizona Wildcats, and in a sense, for my son too. Today, a week into school, the 9 YO was assigned a teacher, Mr. Dub*. I’m not complaining (anymore) because 1) he had the most amazing, stupendous, wonderful substitute teacher and 2) his new teacher is gonna be good. One of the things Mr. Dub told us was that he didn’t believe in punishing kids who complete their work early by giving them busy work, but would rather give them tools to help them think more deeply about the subject. Also, he talked about presenting materials in multiple ways rather than in repetitive ways, to catch students how they learn whether it’s visually, orally/audibly, or tactilely (really, people should not let me make up words).

Video courtesy (I presume since I didn’t ask permission) of

As a mother who tried unsuccessfully to limit wasteful (in all senses of the words) tests (mostly as mandated by NCLB) administered to my innocent children and only quit under threat of meanness (so much for parent rights), I love Mr. Dub’s theory of helping children approach their learning (he is in great company among educators, most of whom would rather not be scripted or teach to the test). Sure, some things have to be rote, but not everything. For example, Stupendous Sub taught math using block printing of Islamic tiles. Oh, she is sooo smooches and cream.

Whatever. I just want to show a photo** of the 9 YO explaining to his art teacher from last year why he wrote “Schookson” (Pima) or “Cuk ᚢon” (Tohono O’Odham) or “Chuk-son” (“Indian”) or “Schuk-shon” (Pima) in the sky. Using water color and collage techniques she showed him (over the objections of some hum-hum), 9 YO won a Postal History Foundation art contest in both his age group and over all age groups. (Nine YO’s friend and his little brother came in 4th and 3rd place!)

And also this photo** of the 7 YO with her first teachers, her family, in Sabino Canyon.

Uh, the family is off camera. The critter isn’t actually part of the family and 7 YO’s not going to start a family any time soon so no kissing toads, or frogs. Not yet.

And that’s how you teach a kid (as if I had a clue).

* Names have been changed because I’m fun like that.
** My photos were prettier before Ultimate made me freak out about size. I may have to ignore him. Happy Birthday, Ultimate!

Wheat and Chaff

Todd-o and I separated the wheat from the chaff last night. Before you go casting me as a crunchy wheat berry hippie, also know that I just polished off a package of Zingers with Suzy Q’s set aside for tomorrow. Diabetes update to follow.

Threshing wheat works nicely, whether by hand or machine. Threshing schools is not such a lovely task. (Winnowing sounds more poetic and does involve a gentle breeze, but it’s not expedient for this transition.) Guess what about charter schools in Arizona! Yeah, that’s what. Needs threshing. Unfortunately, where politicians talk about “government schools” one would expect to see various programs like open enrollment, magnet schools*, and vouchers pop up. In effect, these options overwhelm parents leaving us second-guessing every decision we make with regard to our children’s education. At the same time, these programs suck resources from neighborhood schools and skim the perceived cream. Icky chaff!

How do we find top-notch students to segregate whisk away to bastions of learning? We could always test them, but when the best indicator of test performance is zip code (Google “Volvo effect”), then why bother with the tests at all? Just check out the vehicles in the pick-up lane. Put those kids with their parents’ money in one preci$ely located school easily identified by realtors and watch them soar. Of course those left in the time/talent/treasure void may not perform as well as a group and therefore we should punish those kids by closing down their schools and refusing to educate the former enrollees unless their parents manage to secure digs where property taxes are higher, swing their own college education, and give up on any service sector/civil servant jobs in favor of something tastefully white collar. Of course, a few children will slip past our ivy gated communities and we will laud them as an example of why the rest are truly undeserving.

* I’m not a hypocrite as my kids are special. They attend magnet schools where everything is perfect in accordance with the needs of my gifted and talented (and gorgeous) children. Magnet status, btw, didn’t prevent 1/3 of the faculty getting riffed and the total absence of a librarian at the 9 YO’s school. On the other hand, they have a part time attendance clerk because someone should watch after Adequate Yearly Progress.

Killing Time & a Review

The poll closes in five days and it appears as though my multitude of five imaginary readers (thanks Dad, Volpone, Shylock, Rover, and Mrs. Pinchwife) want to know where I refuse to live. Then again, yesterday I received six of the cutest photographic gifties, so perhaps the pulse of the people will change.

In the meantime, a certain 7 YO is getting a jump start on the summer promises she made to her teacher. Of course I’ve obscured their identities so no one will ever know of whom they read. I’m certainly not implying it’s these jokers. Clearly these two straight laces couldn’t be carried away to story worlds.

Dear Tree Teacher, I finished reading Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Basil, by Wiley Miller* and I thought it was a touching story because there was a friendship between a boy and a girl. One day at school, there were a few girls going to the playground and a boy asked if he could play with them. They said “No, you are a boy.” I wish more people were like the characters in The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Basil. I also liked the part in the book where it said what makes music magic. I do think music brings joy. Love, the 7 YO girl

* Did I mention I am a sell-out, er, Amazon Associate?

Mother of the Year

In spite of what my children might like to tell you, I am a really good mom. I’m a really, really good mom. No. Really. My pal Martha sent me this link as evidence. Here’s additional goods to prove it.

My 6 YO (soon to be 7) girl left this on her doorstep. Let me walk you through it. At first, she simply refuses my access. Note that she can’t bring herself to call me “Mom” and uses my name instead. She then progresses to actively protest my existence. Finally, she recruits family members to “Join the anti-Rebecca club (unless you are Rebecca).” My kids had an awesome K-1 teacher, or so I thought until I realized she taught them to write. I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the Hello Kitty stationery labels this series, “Moments to remember.”

Just because I’m actively inspiring admiration in the girl, doesn’t mean I’m slacking off on my obligation to scar the 9 YO boy. Not long ago I bought him a book in the kids’ section of CostCo. The book, Indiana Jones and the Peril at Delphi*, was handed to me by the 9 YO with the direction to read the following excerpts:

“First, I should tell you a bit about my family,” she said, arching her back as she washed the base of her neck, and the rosy tips of her breasts pushed through the bubbles. – p. 81.

“Put the glasses down,” she said, and slipped her hand around his neck.
“What are you doing?”
She pulled him to her, and retsina spilled on the floor and in the tub. “I think you need a bath.” Her voice was husky, soft, laced with laughter. She wound her wet arms around his back and he toppled over the side, splashing into the warm bath as Dorian’s soft limbs wrapped around him. – pp. 83-84.

That same K-1 teacher who taught them to write taught them to read. It’s really all too bad because I was a much better mom before they learned stuff. Just to add insult to injury, Mz. K-1 had just warned me that kids with mad reading skillz, yo often run into inappropriate content. Just because they can read something doesn’t mean they should. Oopsalay.

The takeaway from these two instances of my children begging me to be a better mother is that I’m a really, really good mom. No. Really. Somebody alert The Mix.

* Did I mention I am a sell-out, er, Amazon Associate?

All Well and Good

Speaking of jejune, I totally forgot the truest jejuney thing ever! I couldn’t stop picking at the imperfection. Turns out it wasn’t a birthmark, nor was it even a pimple. Nay, it flaked off rather easily reminding me of the importance of exfoliating. The routine sloughing off of dead cells is an important part of the revitalization process.

Shrugging off or heading off this invented drama helps me appreciate the hilarity of the kids who allow me to be a member of their learning community. It ain’t always easy and they frequently frustrate the bejesus out of me, but rare is the interaction that leaves me void of synaptic stimulation. Yesterday four kids and I planted tomatoes. Badly, I might add. The kids made a connection between the tomato plant and the mesquite tree. Both flower then fruit/seed. The seeds die, are eaten, or are harvested to grow another plant. They are studying cycles, so when they recognize a cycle – fireworks.

That is all well and good, but expected. The students accompany me into the garden or the bird sanctuary expressly to learn something. The fantastic part is their language. At one point a kid asked, “Can I put the worm poop in my hole?” “Not yet,” I said. “Okay. Is it time to tickle my bottom?” Right? Because everyone knows that you loosen entangled roots before planting and save the compost to sprinkle on top.


My friend, the Caddo Artist, has a nascent blog focusing mostly on how she’s trying to quit smoking. You can do it! Today she offered up her experience volunteering for her youngest’s field trip to the zoo while jonesing. In part, she writes, “Isiah ate a rollypolly. He threw up in a trash can, and it gagged the other boys.”

Excessive Misery

I don’t even want to get into the drama clouding the pastoral existence I’ve so desperately attempted to carve out for my family. Don’t ask and don’t tell, please. I’ll keep mine to myself. You keep yours to yourself and we will pretend everything is fine and dandy like a hard candy Christmas. Leave me alone, I’m doing fine, Just go away, I’ll be okay, Please don’t touch me… (an inside joke shared between my family and millions of SNL viewers).

In the midst of major dramas, there are minor dramas. Each fire is put out in its own turn. We plod determinedly ahead. Considering our real-life, unavoidable drama, I have no desire for avoidable, made-up crises – even if they make me giggle a little.

Now, forget everything I just said because I’m gonna share a wee bit o’ priceless, made-up drama. Due to planning shenanigans (avoidable drama), I unexpectedly attended a field trip with the 9 YO boy’s class today. His unhappiness about water molecules made me giggle a little. Dra-ma!

Clearly, as the photo evidences (noun verb, boo-yah!), I am nothing but a loving supportive mother. I’m hugging him; I have a clear look of concern on my face; he has a kissy mark on his face. Yet he sees me as a mustache-twirling evildoer on whom he wishes doom. Or perhaps he’s thinking, “Kill me now!” Whatever the case, I’ll be ready for your drama in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, don’t be surprised if I laugh at your lack of molecular diversity. ‘k?

These are the days, my friends…

I should start at the top of the morning. The 9 YO boy debuted his mad skillz as a photojournalist. He’s got reporting in his blood from Gramp-A-Long and a fair amount of language ability from both Gigi and Grammanina. Also, as he reported to KOLD, his mom is always at school and I guess his boredom with that or my insistence that he entertain himself inspired him. The story was written one morning after a Borton Community Garden meeting and during the time I take the girl’s class into the garden. Use the link since my scanned copy, well you can see the problem with it.

Then the Friday routine hit with the BELL coffee cart (donations welcome), frequent readers help (the 6 YO made a book mark and earned two books to reward her, er, frequent reading), work for pay, then help the newly single mechanic watch himself and his kid on television (Did you hear that girls? I have a single male friend who can fix stuff AND be daddy about school). Around lunch, I came home to find gently used shorts for the boy and these freshly picked goodies.

These oranges are HUGEMONGOUS! That’s one of the largest bowls we have and you can see the oranges dwarf it. I need a new descriptor for my friends because they are beyond “awesome” and “generous” to the degree of “intergalactic” and “magnanimous” or something like that. OH! I needn’t neglect reporting the glorious package from the artiste in Oklahoma with 50 YO heirloom 4 o’clock and lemon basil seeds, pet rocks, a pep talk, a totem for the chicks, and an indication that my pal also loves credit unions.

Oh, but that’s not the end of the day. The librarian sent to the planet to make my life wonderful set up a little RR viewing on the big screen. Robyn, point out to your mother that one of her hand sewn dresses made it onto national television. If you look carefully, I’m person in the crowd 1, person in the crowd 2, person in the crowd 3 ….

Hawt Mz Molly was mas bella tan siempre (I’m trying to learn Spanish again), if a bit touchy at being the center of the universe for all of 3 minutes. Molly, I know you love math, so how about this equation? 15-3= 12 more minutes of fame to account for. What’s next?

I hope it never ends.

Still Not Fine in Aught Nine

Leggings McGillicuddy and her ununiformed daughter infringed upon my daughter’s cookie selling territory yesterday. I was close to making a stink just to be shitty, but restricted myself to flashing the stink eye. THIS is why I didn’t want to do Girl Scouts. THIS is why I didn’t want to do PTO*. It makes people like me small. Next thing you know, I’ll be scooping up the field mice and bopping them on the head. Kill me now. Send me to hell so the hounds can pick apart my cold black heart.

To emphasize my capacity for smallness, consider my “teaching time” in the 8 YO boy’s class as we discussed social justice and taking action. I discriminated against half the class by denying them a gew gaw that I gave the other half of the class. “Is this fair?” I asked. “Yes, because maybe you didn’t have enough for all of us,” said one do-gooder smarty pants. “We can share,” offered another. “No, no, no, no, no! We we don’t share! There is no sharing!” You know what it was? The gew gaw was STUPID. I should have given half the kids a Wii and then asked if that was fair.

My dear sweet hubster, who knows the darkness deep within my soul and is terrified by it, uhm, I mean who clearly loves me dearly, brought me the most perfect cup of coffee last night about 9 p.m. After a long, busy day, I had just returned home from my last Vestry meeting as a member of that body. I went out approving a deficit budget. What a spirit crusher that was! The deficit budget capped off a fine day of looming dark clouds between my ears.

Back to the coffee – I am currently involved in a project or two. One such effort is a series of on-line computer classes to help me with the Internets and Web site stuff to keep me employable. The hubster fed and put to bed the anklebiters and presented me a quiet environment in which to pursue my learning. The perfectly prepared and snuggly warm coffee by my side was intended to feul me through xHTML Because You are Old 101. Instead, I wasted that time doing, uh… social networking? E-mail? Stalking Whiskey. Whatever. But at 2 a.m., I decided to get some shut eye. At 3 a.m. the eyes still weren’t shut. Shortly thereafter the 6 YO girl crawled into bed with me. Shortly thereafter the alarm went off. I’m tired and hungry and small. So, I’m just saying, maybe, if you see me, you can find some charity for me that I’m quite sure I wouldn’t recriprocate.

* Just to clarify, I love the PTA and all their good work. I just can’t do the PTA.