Friday, October 31, 2014

The Pony Is An Odd Duck

We all know that The Pony has his little idiosyncrasies. They were quite apparent at our heroin assembly yesterday. Lest you think that we are some progressive, I’m OK/You’re OK, everyone’s a winner, touchy-feely, self-esteem academy, rest assured that we were NOT handing out heroin for the kiddos to try. The event was a guest speaker we had never hosted before.

I saw The Pony sitting on the front row of bleachers. That is so unlike him. But…he was sitting on the end to make a quick getaway, and on the other side was a young lady he may or may not have previously had designs on.

There were some handpicked kids who were helping the presenters. Three of them were carrying fake babies though the audience. They would proffer the babe, and let it be passed down the row, like hot dogs at a stadium, but without the exchange of money.

I saw a dude go to The Pony’s row. He held out the swaddled young ‘un to my boy. The Pony held up both hands, palm out, and shook his head. Like Jerry refusing a bite of pie from his date. Three times The Pony was encouraged to hold the baby. I could almost hear Elaine’s friend: “You’ve GOT to HOLD the BABY!” I asked The Pony about it later.

“I didn’t WANT to hold the baby. My friend also refused. But not before she told that guy, ‘Are you sure you want to give HIM a baby?’ She knows what I’m like. Everybody should know.”

“You held your cousin’s little baby.”

“Yes. But I almost dropped her.”

“Which baby was this fake? The normal baby, the heroin baby, or the alcohol baby?”

“It was the alcohol baby.”

“How could you tell?”

“He told us. And it had legs like sticks, and they were all bowed, and its face was different.”

“I can’t believe you rejected the alcohol baby! I guess you really DON’T like to help people.”


“So…what did you think of the program?”


“I know. I think they’re new at this. They had the right idea. The addict with six years clean was the best part.”

“Yeah. He was interesting.”

“The rest of it just seemed like a class. We needed more personal stuff to get the kids involved. If they wanted a lesson, they could have stayed in class.”

“I know. I was there. Their PowerPoint wasn’t the greatest.”

“I don’t know much about that. I didn’t bring my glasses. They had good pictures of people near death from heroin. But they didn’t have to read the statistics and symptoms word for word.”

“Um. A LOT of their words on their PowerPoint were misspelled.”

“Oh. We probably won’t invite them back. Not because of their spelling, though.”

Yep. Red Ribbon Week assemblies are kind of like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get. If The Pony had his way, we would always bite into a piece with proper grammar.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Brings You A Never-Mind Moment From The Workplace

My work day flies by.

I barely have time to take a breath, take a tinkle, and stuff myself with sustenance on my 22-minute lunch hour. After all these years, I have a routine. I know what I'm doing. I know how much time each activity will take. It runs like clockwork, NOT!

Because the phone rings, or somebody drops by to give me something or to need me to give HER something, and the intercom hollers instructions for this and that, and I get lists of kids who will be gone with various activities, or a stack of homebound work appears, then the gradebook program gets worked on for the first time the day I get six late assignments left on my desk or in my mailbox after school. So there is never any true catching up. Which keeps me off balance. Which makes the day rush by in a blur, with me always thinking I'm just about caught up. And then the final bell rings.

Yesterday I was trying to suck in a deep breath just after my class left the room and just before I had to rush out to the cafeteria for lunch duty. There came a tap tap tapping at my door. No gently rapping. Nevermore. It was The Pony. Of course my door was locked, per policy, so I had to get up and shuffle to the opposite corner of the room to let him in.

"What are you doing? You never stop by. You're killing me! I've got to finish this last bit of grades and get to the cafeteria."

"Oh. I have a headache. And you always tell me that if I get a headache to come get medicine, before it gets worse, and is harder to get rid of."

"Yeah. Here. It's an ibuprofen. But part of it looks white because it was in my pocket, and it must have gotten wet, and part of the coating came off. But it's fine."

"All right. I'm going to grab a cookie to go with it, because you tell me not to take one on an empty stomach."

That's my Pony. A true direction-follower. He pulled open the bottom file cabinet drawer to get into the stash of snacks he keeps for after school. His grandma gave him a big baggie of cookies the other day. Not homemade. But she took them out of the package and baggied them for some reason. I went back to my desk to finish entering grades on the previous hour's assignments. The Pony went on to Chem II, and I gathered my broughten lunch.

We had an eventful lunch 1/3 hour, what with the smack being laid down on fee-owers and ID-losers. Did you know kids don't like to be sent to the back of the line, or told they can't have double or triple trays? Yeah. The audacity of a school, wanting the money it's owed, and expecting kids to identify themselves to the lunch record-keeper!

This year my plan time is after lunch. I'd say AMEN to that, but I fear it might violate some separation-of-church-and-state statute. I was a bit perturbed upon entering my room. The last class in there was a pleasant enough group. They are small in number, and I sometimes allow them to switch to another seat after turning in the assignment. We don't really have issues with wildness or slovenliness. But today, the chairs were out of place. Sure, it could have been from the hour before them. Time flies, you know, and I barely make it to the door to let the next class in before they start banging on it like an angry mob demanding their learnin'.

Not only were the desks askew, but there was some kind of crumby foodstuff on the desk where I had seen a girl pull up a chair and sit, head tucked down, talking to a guy. They are both civil, polite, low-maintenance pupils. I had thought nothing of it. But now I was about to come to a boil. THEY HAD BEEN EATING IN MY CLASSROOM! That is not allowed in Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's realm. No Food. No Drinks. No Slurpage. That should be a sign. I would buy one and hang it on my door. Every now and then I find a wrapper of some breakfast treat inside the desk. But these two had left no packaging evidence. I had a good mind to yank their two points a day for good behavior right out from under their grade-point average. But since they had been good kids so far, I talked myself down and decided to give them a stern talking-to the next day.

Of course I had to clean up the mess. That, or listen to the next group complain about it, like I had personally soiled their learning furniture. The captain swabs down the ship, even if the cabin boy besmirched it. I grabbed a paper towel and some Fantastik and set to work.

Well, don't that just beat all! The foreign foodstuff was the remains of about 1/4 of a CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE!

Never mind.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Boysenberry Huckleberry. Huckleberry Raspberry. Raspberry Strawberry. Strawberry Cranberry. Peach.

Sweet Gummi Mary! Everybody wants a piece of our pie!

Not my pie. Heh, heh. Like I could make a pie by warming things in the oven or heating them in the microwave. Nope. Not Hick’s pie. My grandma used to make him blackberry cobbler if I picked the blackberries from our field ahead of the berry-snatchers who made it their business to drive up a private gravel road every year, traipse onto our property, and fill their buckets and gullets with the fruit of Hick’s labors. It got to the point where he quit mowing around those brambles. Let them eat cake! Or, rather, let them get all itchy and tick-y while robbing us fruit-blind.

No, I’m not even talking about the pie the Jeffersons got a piece of when they moved on up to that deluxe apartment in the sky-y-y. Not pie on the lunch tray. Students are not allowed pie anymore, unless it has whole wheat crust, no sugar, and limited salt. As if anybody would want to eat such a pie, even if they got it for free. No sirree, Bob! What I’m talking about is the educational pie.

Just before my lunch period at 10:53 a.m., a lunch period which was pieless, I might add, consisting of triangle sections of some quesadilla-looking thing that was supposed to be a taco, broccoli, canned fruit salad, and milk, an announcement blared over the ceiling speakers. “Teachers. During your lunch period, be sure to stop by the teacher workroom and see the three representatives with the Blues hockey team about opportunities they have to offer.”

Huh. Like my lunch 22 minutes is too long to keep me occupied actually eating my pieless lunch. Blues representatives in the teacher workroom meant something else besides opportunity to me. It meant three extra people to hear me peeing, three extra people to sit around the table in that limited space and block my path to the in-school suspension assignment box, and three more people to see my butt as I bent over to pick up reams of paper, rip them open, and deposit them in the bottom (heh, heh, I said bottom) drawers of the Kyocera.

A few fellow faculty went to visit. Apparently those guys had some good deals on buy-one/get-one tickets to Blues games, except you can’t pick the dates, and you have to pay $50 for your first two tickets. Like teachers carry that kind of money around with them, this being exactly six days away from payday. The #1 son LOVES the Blues, but with him being an RA this year, and away at college with only a few weekends off during the semester, I don’t think it would be feasible for us right now. How much money, really, do the Blues think they can make by selling tickets to teachers door to door?

I’m waiting for the next announcement. That the Fuller Brush salesman is here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

You May Find This Hard To Believe, But There Is A Bigger Giver Out There Than Mrs. Hillbilly Mom

Because Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is a magnet for weirdos and odd happenings, she has a story to tell. Mmm hmm. Mrs. HM must have been especially attractive this afternoon. If only she was fast enough to whip out her phone and snap a photo. Or fast enough to holler over her shoulder to her chauffeured young 'un, The Pony, "Whip out your phone and take a photo!"

We left school by 3:30. That's early for us. Not even NewCus believed me when I said, "I'll be leaving in a few minutes." But off we went, headed home by way of Save A Lot to pick up some treats for The Pony's secret pal for Halloween.

I was behind an annoyingly wide electric-blue pickup truck. Couldn't see around it. Couldn't back off because it was so slow. I decided to take the lake road to get off that guy's bumper. At the Casey's where we get T-Hoe's gas, I pulled into the left turn lane, there catty-corner from my mom's bank, the one that cheated her out of ten dollars. It took me a minute to get into the left turn lane, what with oncoming traffic deciding it was THEIR left turn lane, filling up that middle-of-the-road waiting area like they had the right to be there. Kind of like me, when I'm coming the other way.

I was so intent on getting over to make my left turn that I did not notice when the wide electric-blue pickup truck kept going, and a dump truck pulled out to follow it from the lake road. After all, traffic was at a standstill what with me waiting to get in the turn lane to get on the lake road. Sure, my subconscious knew Dumpy was there. You know how your mind kind of goes on autopilot when you have years of driving experience? I knew Dumpy, the white dump truck, was sitting there at the end of the lake road, waiting to pull out left onto the main road, because I would have to swing wide around him to get onto the lake road.

What I DID notice, upon taking my rightful place in the left turn lane, was that some kind of construction had been going on. It was like the public works department had dug across the middle of the road to replace burst water pipes, which happens at the drop of a hat in Hillmomba, and had filled in the trench with gravel. I even commented to The Pony, "What in the not-heaven is this crap? They've dug up the road while we were at school." The construction area was just ahead of where T-Hoe was not going. Didn't affect my left turn onto the lake road.


My subconscious kicked me in the shins, gave me a noogie, and attempted a titty-twister. That swath of gravel from the construction was expanding. All the way up the road where I was not going. I let my eyes flow along that construction site, and saw that the gravel ended at the back of a white dump truck. But it kept going.


Uh huh. An entire truckload of gravel was being spread along the blacktop of the main road. Pretty as a picture. If you're not a country-dwelling denizen, you might not appreciate the symmetry of this accidental endeavor. Dump trucks open their back flap tailgate thingy from the bottom, drive forward, and leave the smoothest, prettiest flat ribbon of new gravel that you've ever seen. It's like a dude's equivalent of watching a layer of chocolate be poured. I'm not a dude, but I'm a country gal who has purchased more than her share of truckloads of gravel. This grand dumping was real, and it was spectacular.

Part of the beauty of the event was the knowledge that Dumpy had no knowledge that he was losing his load. On he chugged, up that slight hill, cars behind him swerving to the left, DRIVING UP THE LEFT TURN LANE to avoid the gravel. I suppose Dumpty might eventually have noticed that his load had lightened. But once we made our turn onto the lake road, we met another white dumper loaded with gravel. Oh, how I would have liked to see that driver's face when he got to his turn, and saw DUMPY's deposit. I imagine he would get on the radio and let DUMPY know that he lost something.

I don't know HOW they're going to clean that up.

Monday, October 27, 2014

An Unfortunate Case Of Timing

Hey! Mrs. Hillbilly Mom! Can we listen to music while we do our assignment?

C'mon. You let us before.

We were quiet during the lesson.

So can we listen to music now?

What's that?


Whose is that?


That's nothing.

Um. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom? Can I check to make sure my phone is off?


So? Can we listen to music while we work?

You just listened to all the music you're going to listen to.

What? That phone?

Ha ha. The phone was music. Ha ha.

Seriously? Just because of that? You're not going to let us listen to music today?

No. That phone was NOT music to my ears. No music for you.

Ha ha. It wasn't music to her ears!


See? Mrs. Hillbilly Mom  can be fair and impartial. You scratch her back, she'll scratch yours. Except without touching, of course, because that would be...well...ICKY! As well as inappropriate. Yep. They are learnin', by cracky, that privileges are earned, not granted indiscriminately. As George Costanza might term it, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has hand.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

When You Lack An Essential Nutrient, You Are Just Not Yourself

I'm not sure how to break this news. I'm actually getting it second hand, but it's from a pretty reliable source. Are you sitting down? Hold onto your armrests. Take a deep breath. Here goes.


My mom has been without slaw for about a week now. She has looked for it at The Devil's Playground, and also at her regular store, Country Mart. No slaw to be found. The space for it is empty. The question remains as to whether there is another food poisoning scare, or if people are grillin' and chillin' and slawin' for the weekend.

With this lack of slaw comes a lack of good judgment for my mom. That's the price she pays for withdrawal from her favorite side dish. She's simply not thinking clearly. Just this evening, when I called her around six, she sounded all marble-mouthed.

"Are you eating?"

"Well. Not really. I just found this cookie, and I took a bite right as the phone rang."

"What do you mean, you just found this cookie? How can you find a cookie? Was it on the floor?"

"No! It wasn't on the floor! It was laying here on the table by where I keep my remote control and my Sudoku book."

"So you just found it, and picked it up and ate it?"

"Only a bite. I usually have something like this when I take my pill at 7:00. I've been trying to wait."

"Not very successfully. Good thing I called."

"I only took one bite."

We chatted for about 15 minutes.

"I've go to go, Mom. I'm cooking supper. Stay away from that cookie."

"Oh. It's closer to 7:00 now."

Seriously. How can you FIND a cookie in your own home when you live alone? It's the slaw, I tell you! We've gotta get my mom some slaw.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

If Only We Could Ban The Bane Of Our Collective Existences...

In Mrs. Hillbilly Mom’s self-designed universe, the enrollment rosters would slam shut after the first week of school, quicker than a booby-trapped (heh, heh, see what I did there?) temple door in an Indiana Jones movie. Pick a school, any school, and go there. Anybody is free to move about the country, but their kid will still only be allowed to attend that one district. We’ll bend over backwards to send work if you want to move and declare the kid homebound. Pay $20 for an office visit, and get a doctor's note so we can put your child on medical leave. No penalty. Work sent. But we won’t admit any student after the first week. Just like moviegoers will not be seated after the previews, and plane passengers may not get out of their seats after the Fasten Seatbelts sign. The line must be drawn, and Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is drawing it with a wide brush and iridescent paint.

It’s not that we don’t like new kids. We’ll gladly take them during the first week of school. After that, our portals are sealed. We don’t have time and energy to be breaking in everyone all over again. Our indoctrination is complete until next school year. We can’t be breaking the bad habits that have been ingrained in other districts. Classroom dynamics and seating charts have been established. Lunch table cliques are set. Rules have been emphasized. Emergency drills have been practiced. Club dues have been paid. We’re set for the rest of the year.

The majority of our discipline incidence rate comes from the News. Gotta establish who’s boss. The News, sadly, find out that it is not them. The Olds have about a week of show-offing to reveal the pecking order. Then the News settle into a group of like-minded Olds. Things run more smoothly then, but at the cost of that first week. We can’t be devoting our time and effort to so many first weeks throughout the year. It’s detrimental to the Olds. We just want what’s best for our current students. Is that so wrong?

Imagine, if you will, Mrs. Not-A-Cook with her newest Newbie. Mrs. Not-A-Cook is not a slouch in the instruction department for her select group of students. Nor is she a harsh taskmaster. Listen to the lesson, ask for help if needed, then complete the assignment. It’s not like she’s asking them to write a Ph.D. dissertation each week. Nor is she asking them to come up with an alternative to Euclidean geometry. Just the basics. Explained. Re-explained if needed. Assignment collected and graded.

So here we are, back to imagining Mrs. Not-A-Cook standing at her white board after the lesson, asking if there are any questions, and pointing to the assignment she has written on that very same white board. And her newest Newbie, Newb, says, “That is excrement from a male bovine.” Not in so many words, of course. But in his own vocabulary, and plenty loud for Mrs. Not-A-Cook and the other students to hear. So Newb received the bum’s rush to a special room in which he can complete his load of male bovine excrement in a small-group setting, with other fans of ungulate droppings, for a period of two days.

Therein lies the problem. Our Olds would have never let the excrement-from-a-male-bovine bomb fly. They may have thought it. They may have mouthed it silently. They may have muttered it so softly that a bat, king of extreme hearing in the mammalian world, could not detect it. But our Olds would never had put themselves in such a predicament. The News, however, have to test boundaries. Have to impress the Olds in order to find where they fit in. Have to look like a bad-butt to protect themselves from what they fear might be future bullying.

Life would be so much simpler if we sealed our educational borders after the first week of the school year. No enrollment until next year. Health insurance companies can do it. People want schools to run like the private employment sector? This would be a step in the right direction.

So sayeth Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, sitting high upon her throne atop her pedestal, deeply inhaling her rarefied air, watching the unicorns cavort on a nearby mountaintop, as she sips daintily from her crystalline flute of nectar, her bejeweled crown gleaming in the last golden rays of the sunset, as the world below lies shrouded in darkness.

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!