Friday, October 24, 2014

Frankly My Dear, I Don't Care If You Drive On The Bare Rims

Oh, dear. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom can't stop telling tales out know.

As Even Steven would have it, I was blessed with a new student on Wednesday. Exactly five days after the start of the new quarter. Five days after I had copied names into my old red gradebook that is so much handier than the computer gradebook program, what with keeping track of absences, missed assignments, and having a list of alphabetical scores to type in for the computer to do its averaging magic. So now that class is all out of kilter, I must remain ever-vigilant in score-entering. But that's not what we're here to hear tales of tonight.

I have had this newbie only one day so far, because of the parent conference schedule. I can hardly wait to see what lays in store for me on Monday. Okay. I can wait. But I'm on the edge of my rolly chair in front of New Delly in my dark basement lair.

Everybody knows that cell phones ain't allowed in school. Right? Like smokin' ain't allowed in school. Except they are, just a little bit, in the cafeteria and in the halls, unlike smokin'. But not in the classrooms, by cracky! That is a zero tolerance zone. No seeing, no hearing, no speaking by thumbtip or vocal cords. Turn that sucker off. Not on vibrate. Not on silent. Rip its guts out if it can't keep quiet.

So here's Newbie, sitting directly in front of my desk, nobody impeding my vision, the rest of the class taking the test. I could see she was turning her back on me. Reaching. Like a cop knows when a perp reaches for a weapon, a teacher knows when a teen reaches for a cell phone. So I announced, "I know I told you that you could listen to your music when you're done. That means you turn it on, then put your phone away. No fiddling with songs. No texting. Turn it on, put it up." I had to comment a couple other times. It wasn't for the benefit of my regular quarter-long students. I did not want to single out Newbie on the first day. But she just wasn't picking up what I was laying down. Not catching the hint. Finally, on the fourth time, she turned to look at me like I was a crazy woman.

"Yes. I'm talking to you. We do not allow cell phones in the classroom. The student handbook, which I'm sure they gave you, says so. If teachers see it or hear it, the policy is to take it away and turn it in to the office. The student gets an automatic day of in-school suspension. I know you've had that phone out at least four times. You need to put it away, or I'll have to take it."

I thought I made myself clear. I really did. I was giving her a break on her first day. But since I'd laid out the law, she would now have to abide. No excuses. She couldn't claim she didn't know. Did she thank Mrs. Hillbilly Mom for explaining the rules, so she wouldn't get her phone taken away? Did she nod and say, "Okay," and put the phone back in her pocket? What do YOU think?

"I was texting my grandma about getting tires for my car!" This, in a gravelly, grinding tone, as if the rage she was choking down was strangling her.

"Well, that's something you'll have to do on your personal time. Not on classroom time. Put your phone away, or I'll have to take it."

I swear she muttered something about this school or this rule sucking, and that it should be had sex with, though not by the F word.

Who do you think Mrs. Hillbilly Mom will have her eye on come Monday?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

It Wouldn't Exactly Make You Die Of Fright. Pregnant Women And Those With Weak Hearts Will Be Fine.

Tonight is the debut of The Pony’s costume at the big Newmentia Halloween dance. I was up half the night working on it. Okay. I was up half the night, but I wasn’t working on it. I got some of the basics done on Tuesday during the lag in visitors at parent conference night.

I looked up that Devil’s Playground logo and checked out the dimensions in relation to each part, then I calculated my own template for The Pony’s shirt. It helps to be a fan of ratios. Here’s how I laid it out on my school workspace:

Wednesday night, during the boring talky parts of Survivor, I colored in the white sections of nametags with a yellow highlighter. Then I traced around some of my template exclamation point thingies. I cut them out for sticking on the shirt. By the way, The Pony found a new shirt that I had not even cut the tag from, most likely meant for his MSA interlude last summer. Instead of the navy blue polo I had envisioned, this one was royal blue. The Devil’s color.

Funny thing about those stick-on nametags when you trim an exclamation out of them. There is no way to peel the backing off the sticky part. Believe me. I tried every which way to Sunday. So…back to the old drawing board. I colored six more exclamations with yellow highlighter while The Pony was in the shower, leaving a corner of the peel-away part attached to trim after peeling.


Here’s the finished product, laying on our pool table:

I would show the name tag that I fixed up with a 72-point font in Times New Roman and gluesticked on, but that would reveal The Pony’s real name, so, um, NO.

I think it turned out pretty good. Hope the little shaver doesn’t scare his peers TOO much!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I’m Mad As Not-Heaven, And I’m Not Going To Take It Any More!

This morning Mrs. Hillbilly Mom sat at her desk, grading papers. Her students were given free rein to move about the classroom, having behaved themselves during the lesson, and being her very bestest class. Just before the bell, a situation arose that demanded Mrs. HM’s attention.

“You old lady!”

Let the record show that this invective was not hurled at Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. It was a discussion between two dudes, who are friends, but cut each other no slack. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom could not resist inserting herself into the conversation.

“Hey, that’s enough. I am highly offended by that remark!”

“Huh? I just called him an old lady. That’s not bad. He’s an old lady. He carries a TISSUE in his pocket.”

“As spokesman for all old ladies everywhere, I am offended! I say it is time for people to stop using our name to refer to things they find to be not-cool.”

“Oh. Okay. I apologize.”

“I’m not really mad! I’m just acting like everybody who gets outraged over the least little thing. Just because he carries a tissue does not mean he’s an old lady. You act like he’s carrying an embroidered handkerchief.”

“Yeah, well…dudes don’t carry tissues. Turn in your dude card.”

I guess there’s an unofficial competition to see who’s the dudiest. I plan to enter the unofficial competition to see who's the outragediest.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Party 'Til The Pony Comes Home

The Pony is not exactly a party animal. He keeps to himself. Not one to go to the Elementia sock-hop back in the day, like the #1 son. Seems like only yesterday #1 was wearing a little astronaut suit, or striped criminal black-and-whites with a plastic ball and chain, or a slice of pepperoni pizza, kicking up his crusts with classmates at the Halloween party.

This year, Thursday to be exact, The Pony plans to attend the Newmentia Halloween dance. It used to cost two dollars more if you didn’t come in costume. This year, rates have been slashed. One admission fits all. But The Pony still wants to dress up. Therein lies the dilemma. He originally wanted a costume for his Missouri Scholars Academy reunion coming up in November, and planned to wear it to this dance as well.

The first costume idea was a Roman soldier. The Pony has much memorabilia in the form of helmets and swords, picked up here and there at auctions or Christmases. He knew he couldn’t take a sword. He had his eye set on some armor, the leather segmented kind whose name escapes me now. Of course it costs in the mid three figures for a replica. So I told him that was not really feasible, and that I couldn’t imagine him actually wearing it when the time came. He mulled it over, and relented.

The second costume idea was Gandalf. I found a good costume on the innernets, and The Pony had a grand plan for him and his dad to make a staff with a light in it from a walking stick he could find in our woods. Then he must have thought about actually wearing that dress robe in public, and changed his mind.

The third and final idea for a costume will be worn to Thursday’s dance. The Pony is going to attend as…are you ready for this…drumroll…A DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND EMPLOYEE! Shh…don’t let it slip. Nobody is supposed to know until he shows up. He says all he needs is a pair of khakis, a blue shirt, and a nametag. Check, check, and check. Now all I have to do is make that little six-exclamation-point logo to put on the back of his shirt. Let’s see…it’s Tuesday night…conferences run until 7:00 p.m.…he needs it by Thursday before I go to work and more conferences…yeah. We’re on schedule.

I cautioned The Pony that some kids whose parents might work for The Devil could find his costume insulting. He said, “My whole premise is that I am my own worse nightmare, a 30-year-old Devil’s Playground worker living in my mother’s basement.”

Yeah. A frightening premise. Hope nobody has a weak heart.

Monday, October 20, 2014

All Creatures Break And Maul

Carnage was afoot in the hallowed halls of Newmentia this morning.

As I entered the building, past the outside surveillance camera, stepping through the double doors to be picked up by the inside surveillance camera, an insect of indeterminate order scurried past my feet, making a break for the great outdoors. Hot on its six heels was a millipede. A tiny baby millipede, nothing like those monsters we get inside the Mansion basement every couple of years, strong enough to move a glass bowl set down to dome it from creeping.

I let them pass. Until I am specifically told that the "other duties as needed" clause in my contract requires me to don my exterminator hat, I shall refrain from horning in on Orkin's business. This critter parade has become so commonplace that I did not even wave a white flag inside my classroom door before entering. No matter what beasty that harsh taskmistress Mother Nature plans to take me out with, it will happen when it happens, be it at school or in the Mansion.

Today and the whole week being a bit hectic, I had other items on my agenda than minding the creepy-crawlies in the common areas. Above my pay grade. I am employed to work with the two-leggers.

The first bell rang, and I strode to my post to observe hall traffic. Students proceeded in an orderly manner from the cafeteria past my door. Then there was a ripple in the flow. A slight reversal. One young lass turned, took two steps back, and STOMPED the tile. She immediately resumed her previous speed and direction, leaving behind a writhing curlicue that had once been a tiny baby millipede.

Mother Nature is not the only harsh taskmistress in Hillmomba.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

If Only I Had The Nerve To Send Out Letters Like My Sons' Elementary Teachers, Saying That The Student Is Doing Fine, And There Is No Need For A Conference...

Time grows short. It's the dreaded conference week. Sure, there's a Friday-off carrot dangling at the end of the five-day stick. But first we have to get to it.

The Pony will stay late tomorrow to work on his pumpkin-flinging mangonel. Yeah. I didn't make that up. It's like a trebuchet, I think. A catapult. He's part of a club that is building this device. Tuesday I will stay until 7:00, conferencing. Wednesday The Pony has Scholar Bowl practice. And Thursday I will stay until 6:00 twiddling my thumbs, because nobody comes on Thursday when the kids get out early. Oh, but my night will not end at 6:00, because The Pony is going to the Halloween dance which ends at 10:00. Putting me back at school to pick him up, then a 45 minute drive home. I'm tired already.

This month is flying by already. Bill-paying Friday, which has the audacity to fall on Halloween, is marred by Trunk or Treat. The Pony must hand out candy in front of Newmentia from 5:30 until 6:30. I think I will leave him there after school and take my mom with me to pay the bills, returning just in time to scoop up The Pony. On the road again...sing it, Willie, you high-as-a-kite, gasohol-guzzling, red-headed stranger.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom grows weary with responsibility.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Predicts That The Upcoming Winter Will Be Average

On the way to town this morning, I saw three of these:

They were longer than this example, but they had just about as much brown. So unlike last year's woolly bears, which were totally, completely, unequivocally, inexplicably black.

In case you've been living under a rock waiting for GEICO put up a billboard telling you how 15 minutes can save you 15% on car insurance...woolly bear caterpillars can predict winter weather. Uh huh. It's true. I read it on the internet. Also, I saw those black caterpillars crossing the road last year, and in case you didn't hear, what with being so busy living under your rock, Newmentia had 21 SNOW DAYS! Which means those woolly bears knew something. AND I was seeing them crossing the road in July and August. Way too soon for the winter predictors to be out.

I'm going out on a limb here and declaring that this winter will be average. Newmentia may see a smattering of snow days, four or five, perhaps. STOP! Do not throw erasers at Mrs. Hillbilly Mom! That is hurtful. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom does not control the weather! You disgruntled educators need to track down that faculty member in your building who does the snow dance. It is not Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

I still need to run this prediction by the persimmons for verification.