Diapers and Dragons

Friday, May 21, 2010

O Man! Who Knows Thee Well Must Quit Thee With Disgust*


--1--

Yesterday when I picked the kidlets up from school, DramaBoy discovered a fuzzy little caterpillar on the sidewalk. He pounced on it immediately like it was his long lost best friend and let it run all over his hands.

It took all my motherly fortitude to respond to his delight with a Oh wow! That's so very cool! rather than squealing like the girly girl I can occasionally be. I then informed him that he could NOT take it into the car as a pet and that it would be happier in the bushes.

Apparently he now plans to check on his little buddy every time we enter and exit the building.

If he becomes an entomologist, I'm going to have to make him bathe in sanitizer before he ever steps foot in my house.

--2--

This morning I was checking in homework with my first hour junior class. One student checked his in. About five minutes later another student walked up with a paper to check in. I looked at it and immediately recognized it as the identical paper (not even a copy--THE SAME PAPER) that the first student had shown me, just with the second student's name on it. They both received zeros--the second student for trying to pass it off as his work, the first for collaborating in the attempted deception.

What pisses me off the most? They thought I'm stupid enough not to notice. Now that's just insulting.

--3--

Today is the unofficial Senior Skip Day.

It makes me angry every year.

Seniors get out two weeks earlier than everyone else. They have final exams next week. Final projects are coming due as we speak. What on earth makes anyone think it's okay to simply not attend school at this point in the year?

What makes it worse is the parents who readily excuse the absence.

When I tell my students that my own children will not be allowed to do this, nor be allowed to run off to Mexico or Florida or other such hedonistic destinations for Spring Break during high school, I'm treated as though I am violating an essential human right.

Today during my Myth class, which has a heavy contingent of seniors, students will be doing a participation-based activity. Those without hospital notes or court papers will receive a zero. Want to challenge that? Check the attendance policy.

Being a Righteous Bitch Teacher: I'm doin' it right.

--4--

MTL and I keep overhearing people who are upset about the recently enacted law here in Michigan that bans smoking in most public places. These people keep complaining about how the state is violating their personal rights and that the government has no right to try to make them quit smoking.

They don't get it. The government isn't trying to get them to quit. Cigarettes are still legal. They can still smoke. Just not where MY personal rights (and lungs) will be violated by their cigarette smoke.

They keep saying it will hurt the economy, too.

Oddly enough, the neighborhood bar where I had pizza last night was just as full of people as it usually is on a Thursday night.

Go figure.

--5--

Fifteen years ago as a high school senior I dated a junior boy very casually for a couple of weeks. Then we broke up, but stayed friends. I received a letter from him a few months after I started college. It was six pages of explicit horror, describing things I'd never even imagined, much less (in my naivete of the time) heard of before. He ended up getting in big trouble with the school administration because of it. It took me three years to stop shaking when I talked about the incident.

Two years ago when I began using Facebook, he tried to friend me. I ignored him. This morning I found an email in my inbox notifying me that he had friend requested me again.

What on God's green earth makes him think I want to have anything to do with him? I don't care whether we have 92 Facebook friends in common or not!

Guess who's getting blocked on Facebook today?

--6--

I should be legally divorced by now. I should have been divorced as of ten o'clock yesterday. The idiotic judge decided to make us jump through one more (unnecessary and ridiculous) legal hoop and therefore adjourned the trial date to June 8th. If I wanted to jump through hoops, I'd take a gymnastics class.

On the silvery side of things, The Ex and I haven't been this united in a very long time. Both of us just want to be DONE already. We were positively friendly in the wake of our joint disgust over the situation.

--7--

My tenth graders are reading Elie Wiesel's Night right now. It's an amazing book, well worth the prizes it has earned, but it's very difficult to read. Not in language, but in detail.

I struggle with stories of the Holocaust. Whether in movies or books, there is something about that horror of human history that stabs me to the core. I've been struggling not to weep during our discussions.

This morning we talked about what happened to the children. The infants flung into the air as target practice for Nazi guns. The babies ripped from their mothers' arms and bashed against walls, then discarded like broken dolls. The tiny bodies tossed into the furnaces of Bergen-Belsen, Auschwitz, Birkenau like so much cord wood.

My body revolts against the images in my mind. My lungs strain for air. My eyes well with tears. My voice hitches, halts, stumbles on.

My students are still, visages stone as they struggle to comprehend the inhumanity of Man.

My sorrows run pale and shallow in the face of the words I read.

---------------------
*Lord Byron, from "Inscription"

11 bits of love:

sAm said...

Wow. I read "Night" a couple of months ago (looking for 7th Gr. lit books) and couldn't IMAGINE reading it as a class. You are one tough lady...good for you! And as for the non-smoking law, I LOVE it! I can now go out and not have to worry about the smell/asthma attack. Bravo, Michigan.

PantsWithNames said...

What is it with small boys and caterpillars. Mine have obsessions with them at the moment too...

No smoking laws? Bloody brilliant. No question. Really fantastic.

Stone Fox said...

i give you a lot of credit for being a teacher in the first place; teaching teenagers is pretty much a shoe-in for sainthood in my books.

i'm glad you are reading them something difficult, scary, and true. teenagers, in my opinion, are allowed to slide so much these days. very few, that i have seen, are made to do anything outside their comfort zone. nobody makes them visit the old folks home, or work at a soup kitchen, or volunteer with the rotary.

somewhere, someone needs to introduce them to the history of people, not just the history of politics and war.

mom said...

I love DramaBoy and the fuzzy caterpillar! I am with you on stupid kids trying to deceive you and living a lie. I can't wait to come back to MI and experience breathable air in public spaces. And I bleed inside over the Holocaust. I'm really glad you make students read it and face up to the suffering that humanity is capable of inflicting on its siblings. Without that, it is all to easy to blithely assume that all is well on Planet Earth . . . until it hits close to home.

Adelas said...

1) THANK YOU for assigning that participation assignment.

2) Smoking: YES, THANK YOU. If someone is going to be violating someone else's rights and wants, then it damn well better not be those who force those around them, including minors, to breathe in their stupid toxic breath.

And for the record, here in Collin County, TX smoking is outlawed inside of, and within 20 feet of the entrance of, all public buildings, and also in restaurants. (Bars, places where the primary income is from alcohol consumption, are exempt.) And shockingly enough, we're consistently voted one of the best places to live in the country. And our employment rate is one of the best in the country. Who'da thunk?

Draft Queen said...

Everyone in MA said the same things about our smoking laws and nothing catastrophic happened. Even some of my Libertarian friends supported the law because without it the rights of others were being violated. I was a smoker at the time and even I agreed with it. Just because I wanted to do it, didn't mean I had to make everyone around me suffer. It's why we never smoked in the house. Same concept. People are just drama-whores.

My senior year of high school they made us graduate the day before everyone in the school got out. We took finals the very same week as the others and several of my classmates were arrested for truancy on "skip" day. (I was let off with a dr's note.) The very next year they went back to the seniors getting out in May and no one made a big deal out of skip day. They were allowed a Senior Breakfast (we were not) and a class trip (we had to have ours on a Saturday.)

Heidi said...

C is pretty obsessed with bugs too. He was charmed by the pillbugs we found under one of my flower pots this weekend and was quite pleased to have it crawl on his hand.

GingerB said...

I'm glad you are a butt kickin' teacher. As a sometime teacher of college level courses I was horrified by what some students thought was passable work, and further horrified when the administration did not support me in how I handled plagarism.

I visited Dachau on my first trip to Europe with a study abroad program, and I really won't get over that experience, and I don't think I am supposed to.

Wanderlust said...

I read Night in High School. I read it again in college. I dropped out of college and then returned, several years later to another college. In Humanities we were assigned Night and asked to write a response to it. The next day I handed in an elegant and well-reasoned argument explaining why, while I understood the importance of our generation fully understanding the significance and inhumanity of the Holocaust, I would never fucking read Night again. I got an A on my paper.

Ed Pilolla said...

i tried to slip someone else's work by a teacher-- and got away with it! oh, yes. i did it multiple times. i was lucky, and pushed my luck. doesn't sound like you would have been so gullible.

Lauren said...

M, am thinking... am thinking... Junior boy? Email me. Please.

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