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.




Friday, October 17, 2014

You've Gotta Know What You're Working With

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is not a fan of interspersing upperclassmen with freshmen. Not that she has any say in it, of course. Required credits dictate enrollment. So when a new kid shows up from a school that teaches their sciences in a different order than Newmentia, select sophomores or juniors find themselves smack-dab in the middle of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's high school newbies. Sometimes there's an errant upperclassman repeating my class for a credit, but the majority of my uppers are thrust into my matrix through no fault of their own.

Here's the thing with freshmen. They are playful, frolicking puppies. They want attention, good or bad, and will do their darnedest to get it. While I can't actually swat them with a rolled-up newspaper, nor nip them until they yelp like another puppy peer might do, I CAN get their attention and make my wishes known. Freshmen are very teacher-centric. The kids have not developed such a mob mentality. They relate to the teacher one-on-one, especially for the first half of the year. Then they pull away and begin that quest for independence.

Freshmen are especially enamored with upperclassmen. They are COOL, no matter if they really are or not. So I have to befriend those upperclassmen, and make sure we're on the same page. Not buddies, but co-workers. You can't treat uppers like you treat lowers. They're more sophisticated, Sometimes surly, and quite likely to tell Mrs. Hillbilly Mom to go jump in a lake. Their tender self esteem does not depend on the approval of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. So they get a bit more explanation as to the reason for things, rather than a commanding STOP THAT RIGHT THIS MINUTE or a flat-out NO. The freshmen kind of catch on, and see that with maturity comes more respect. They settle down so as not to be seen as foolish in the eyes of the upperclassman.

It's been working so far. Even with transfers who must be trained in the ways of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. It's worth the investment. As the upperclassman goes, so goes the class.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Cus Strikes From Beyond The Grave



Perhaps it’s a function of the advancing Halloween holiday, perhaps it’s a function of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom’s advancing age, or perhaps it’s just a funk that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has fallen into rump-over-teakettle. But it certainly seems that Cus is striking from beyond the grave to make sure Mrs. HM’s life is less than smooth. That the fabric of Mrs. HM’s working life is more akin to rhinoceros skin than to the soft, soft epidermis of a dainty Arabian show-horse’s muzzle.

Okay. Striking from beyond the grave may be misleading, because Cus is not in the grave. Cus is merely dislocated, relocated, other-located from Newmentia. However…the spawn of Cus still stalks the hallowed halls of Newmentia, same as The Pony prances hither and yon in the same facility. It seems as though CusChild is channeling the master.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no issues with CusChild. In fact, I wish I had a whole passel o’ CusChilds in my class. Because CusChild is pleasant and respectful and conscientious about the coursework. And because of that, CusChild is quite thorough when completing assignments. However…this thoroughness can sometimes be a thorn in Mrs. Hillbilly Mom’s ample side. Like when she gives instructions on a test that is given at the end of each quarter, which include the phrase, “Please do not write on the test questions.” You see, those questions can be used over and over, without need for jamming the Kyocera and killing trees. Unless, of course, a student writes answers on the test questions before copying them onto the answer sheet.

Not only did CusChild write the letter of the answer on the tiny blank beside the questions, but CusChild also circled the letter of the answer. But that’s not all! In addition, CusChild slashed through the letters of the unwanted answers. Which is good test-taking strategy, really. But quite a fly in Mrs. Hillbilly Mom’s test-question ointment.

There are 52 questions on that test. Times five. Five items per test question that had to be erased. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom’s Pink Pet was panting after that erasure session. That was 260 items to be erased: letters, circles, slashes. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom might have to go on the disabled list due to carpal tunnel syndrome.

No, don't get me wrong. I enjoy having CusChild in class. Just not so much on test day.