Diapers and Dragons

Friday, April 30, 2010

I Didn't Anticipate This When I Chose My Nom de Plume


Today did not start well. The boylets have gotten into the habit of staying up far too late regardless of when I put them to bed, and last night was no exception. I sleep downstairs on the couch, too far away to monitor all that happens up there after lights out, and I discovered this morning that The Widget had committed the No-No (NO NO NO!!!!) of playing with my makeup. An eyeshadow container displayed mini-finger-sized gouges, which also explained the interesting brown war-paint that decorated his sleeping face. I suppose I should be happy it was makeup and not, well, Other Brown Stuff.

So we began the day with whining and complaining and Consequences. I was all set for the day to be a Horrible, Terrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day.

Then I got my Good Morning text from MTL.

The Widget wore Big Boy Underwear to school today, because he has finally turned the corner with potty training.

The boylets stopped whining and gave me kisses instead.

The Color Guard Booster Parents coffee stand had cherry-flavored coffee this morning.

And I started counting my blessings.


One of my students who had Messed Up begged me for mercy over email the other day. He showed up with donuts and coffee for me this morning. My students seem to have figured out my weaknesses. They are:
  • Bavarian Creme or Boston Creme donuts
  • Brownies, especially thick gooey fudgy ones like another contrite student brought me yesterday which were the Best Brownies Ever. I had to scoop them into my mouth WITH A SPOON. And with every bite, I giggled. No, really. And then I took the rest to MTL and he nearly wept with every bite. That student gets an A+, he informed me. For everything. Especially if he makes them again.
  • Godiva dark chocolate bars with raspberry filling
  • Dark chocolate anything, really
  • Especially paired with raspberry, for that matter
  • Food, now that I think about it

My waistline is becoming an issue, what with all the Tribute and Mercy Offerings and the lack of exercise due to OMG MY BACK AND HIPS OMG.

My physical therapist said yesterday would be our last session until fall, when hopefully some of my OMG STRESS OMG will fade and he can focus more on my neck and upper back issues. In the meantime, I am carrying on with the alignment exercises and strengthening exercises and the strange things I do with a long white noodle and a small yellow ball. Don't ask.

I asked what kind of exercise I am allowed to do that would address my waistline and brownie muffin-tops. He said nothing weight-bearing or high-impact (so no Zumba, *sob*). Ideally, I should do twenty minutes on a stationary bicycle three times a week, achieving an aerobic heart rate level of 120-130 bpm.

This would be lovely, except I do not have a stationary bike and am a bit hesitant to fork over cash for membership at a fitness center, what with OMG NO MONEY OMG and only using one machine for an hour a week. I suppose I could exercise here at school, but that would involve finding space and time in the weight room, as well as puffing and swearing sweating away in front of students. Oy. Must think on this.

But at least I have options and my hips and back are so very much better and I cannot recommend my physical therapist highly enough because he is a miracle worker.


Not all students clog cheer up my heart with chocolate alone. Yesterday a young lady came in the room with her mother.  I had her two years ago as a sophomore, and she has visited me frequently since then. She came yesterday, however, to say Goodbye. For various personal reasons, she had decided to withdraw from school, get her GED instead, and pursue college after that. But she came to find me first.

I wanted to tell you, she said, that I'll miss you and you were the most influential teacher I've ever had.

Later one of the co-principals told me she had mentioned my name in her exit interview and said I was one of the only people who had made her academic experience a positive one.

I can't win every student's heart, and that's not the reason I'm here, but hearing these things from time to time is what makes this career worth all the stress and exasperation and downright pain.


My classroom has scattered memorabilia from current and former students all over the walls and boards. Bizarre cartoons, surrealistic sketches and paintings and drawings, amusing or stunning posters and projects, senior pictures, little notes of affection and/or snark. This morning a student whose schedule change required her to switch to a different English teacher at the semester break came to visit before her next class. She left behind a markered note on my board: Kaylee <3s you!

I like Ms. P, she said, but I miss your class so much. I wish I hadn't had to switch out!

She had nearly failed my class first semester. Oddly enough, quite frequently it's the students who fail or came very close to it who come back and say they miss me the most. I was always an academic high achiever: I cannot help but wonder why I connect so strongly with students who struggle in the classroom setting.

It certainly isn't because I coddle them. I'm more likely to give them a verbal kick in the ass for not living up to their potential. I believe in Tough Love. Success only matters if you earn it.


I've never considered myself a maternal sort of teacher. At least, not in the gentle, cuddly, sweet sort of way. Not that I'm a soulless sort. I'm fairly decent at adjusting my approach to individual students as appropriate, and I've had my share of sessions comforting a distraught student in the hall. Nevertheless, I'm more likely to kick them in the ass (metaphorically speaking) than not.

So I was caught off guard this year when a close-to-my-heart former student told me he sees me as his mom, certainly more so than his biological mother (let's just say they have a difficult relationship). And then when I had a good half-dozen or so current students tell me I sound like their mothers. And then I realized that a good number of the comments I leave on former (as in graduated) students' Facebook Walls have a rather mothering tone to them.

In a snarky, raised-eyebrow, slap-upside-the-head sort of way.

I mean, I'm barely old enough to be the biological mother to my (younger) current students, and even then I would have had to be a teen mother! Somehow, without meaning to, I've crossed some invisible border into Mom territory. Although definitely more on the Roseanne (but with WAY more class) (I hope) (please God) side of the mothering spectrum than the June Cleaver one.

I'm not sure what to think about that. I'm still figuring out how to be Mom to my biological kids without adding a few hundred more to the list.


Those kids and those relationships, however, are the real reason I do what I do. It's the main reason I've stayed in the high school arena rather than moving up to the college level, as was my original plan when I started this career. I would miss the kind of interaction I can have with high school students.

There are perks to maintaining those connections, too. Tonight I will attend a play at Wayne State University in which a former student is performing, and I'm going for free. She gave me a comp ticket out of gratitude for a small favor I did for her. MTL is going along, and we'll go out for coffee with my gorgeous, talented former student afterward. And who will be watching my kidlets while I do this, you ask? Yet another former student. One of the four or five former students who babysit for me. At a marvelously reduced rate, I should note, and occasionally with my offer of payment refused.

Because they love me.

I may never have a building named after me or a statue erected in my honor or be a household name. But when I look at my life and what I do and why I do it...

I have not wasted my time.

Today is a good day.


As a two-for-one, today is also Flog Yo Blog Friday over on MummyTime. Join in the awesome!


8 bits of love:

Arby said...

Skip the building named after you. Free babysitting! Way better.


mom said...

I've missed you so much this week -- I was up in Bobo without Internet. And this post is just so you. I felt like we had a phone call (not a bad idea, that.) May there be many more encouragements these days, hon.

Tim Riley said...

As a teacher, I really enjoyed this post. It's the connections with kids that keep me motivated too-it sure ain't the money.

Madmother said...

Teachers can make or break a student. Kudos to you, as it appears you are in the wonderful first category.

My firstborn still looks to his amazing Grade 3 teacher with any of his big achievements. Hell, he is only in Grade 6 now, but she is the one he seeks out to tell.

His words: "She believes in me Mum."

Brenda said...

Happy FYBF, TM.

And you know I think you're full of The Awesomes! Yes?!

MomZombie said...

What a good feeling to know your hard work and dedication delivers rewards of gooey brownies and gratitude.

Draft Queen said...

Free babysitting. Heck, finding a sitter at all. PRICELESS.

Anywho, I've tagged you.

You're welcome.

Stone Fox said...

when you expect your school kids to live up to their potential, the message they get is that they actually HAVE potential. that's pretty awesome for a kid who is struggling or failing. obviously, sometimes hearing that is just the thing they need to be successful.

my husband walked by and saw the words "boston creme" and now he's harassing me to make a boston creme pie. so, thanks. now i'm going to have to make one and probably i'll eat most of it and then i'll be even more of a chunky butt.

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