Friday, December 9
Today during my 4th period class--a class that usually makes me wish I had chosen a less stressful career, like firearms testing or bounty hunting--we actually had a productive discussion. They did their work and volunteered answers to questions. They refrained from cursing. I didn't have murderous thoughts about any of them.
I should note that on Thursday I went to a workshop and left my classes in the hands of a competent substitute; my favorite class, my bright, energetic honors kids, got the worst report: rudeness, disrespect, failure to stay on task. My fourth period kids, these trash-talking potty mouths who are in my class because they have not yet earned an English I credit, got the best report. They were quiet; they did their assignment (a lengthy set of questions that accompanied the film "Rudy," the final activity in our "news-to-screen" unit) and were polite to the sub. When I read the sub's report on Friday, after I cleaned my glasses, caught my breath, and regulated my heartbeat, I decided that I would reward them by letting them have some "chill" time at the end of the period while they finished watching "Rudy." "Chill" here means "watch leisurely without having an additional assignment." It seemed like a feasible plan; after all, the first half of class had gone so smoothly. In retrospect I'm fairly certain I had been beamed temporarily to a parallel universe.
Barely two minutes after I pressed the "play" button I heard heated conversation in the back corner of the room. I detected an angry tone. I heard the scrape of a chair being moved abruptly across the floor. Before I could walk the 10 steps from my desk to the light switch there was a full-fledged fight in my classroom between two boys who, just moments earlier, had been exchanging civil if not pleasant conversation. I called the office for help, and within seconds the principal (we'll call her Principal), a woman who is at least an inch or two shorter than my 5'6" and more than likely matches me in weight, was in the middle of the fray. The fighters were locked in a bear hug when she arrived; no punches were being thrown because neither boy would let go, and I'd wanted to keep it that way until the resource officer arrived, so I'd assigned the biggest boy (we'll call him Tall Boy) in the class to keep them contained by blocking their path to other parts of the room. As soon as Principal entered the room she made Tall Boy move, and she proceeded to wedge herself between the fighters until she had successfully pried them apart. As soon as the bear hug was broken fists began to fly, and Principal, who was now in the middle of the two fighters, got slugged right in the mouth. Moments--no, a second--later the officer arrived, pepper spray in hand, and started shooting the vile substance in a circle around the area where the fighters were now on the floor pummelling each other. He sprayed both fighters, Principal, and three of my students who were trapped in the corner and were innocently trying to stay out of the way. The room had to be evacuated. Principal was bleeding, and two of my students required an eye bath.Saturday, December 10
Took Suzanna to the do-it-yourself pet bathing center today, and not a moment too soon. I was starting to leave rooms as she entered them, and I actually caught myself wondering what would happen if I put deodorant on her. Just before we left the house I let her in so I could leash her, and she tracked red North Carolina clay all over the carpet. Cry for help? I think so.
One of the attendants at the bathing facility was grooming a standard poodle next to the stall I was using, and she attempted to make conversation over the roar of the doggy dryer. Somehow canine anal glands came up--I think I might have been responsible--and she said, "here, I'll show you how to express them." I can now say I've squeezed my dog's anus. It was not a pleasant experience for either of us, and we have agreed that I'll never do it again, ever.
Went to see "Goblet of Fire" again--took Gayle, as she had not yet been, and we both agree that it was a bad decision to have the dragon escape during Task 1. Waste of precious time. Ralph Fiennes IS Voldemort, though. Even his voice is frighteningly perfect.Sunday, December 11
Went to my first ever piano recital today--as an audience member, that is. Gayle has been taking piano lessons since January. She could already play well before she started, and now she is one of the best students in the class, second only to a 16 year-old so-called prodigy who, in my opinion, didn't play all that well. Gayle played beautifully, but I had trouble sitting through the others, a combination of children and adults, most of whom were...bad. There were a few bright spots, but mostly they were not in time, they missed notes, and they had to stop for long periods to reposition their hands for the next bar. It was sad, and I was embarrassed for them, and while I know this is the point of taking lessons, it was difficult for me to see them struggle. When I have a kid I will happily take it to sports lessons--tennis, golf, swimming--but it will be hard to witness music lessons.Monday, December 12
Stopped at the post office on my way to work for what I was sure would be a 5-minute errand. There were two people in line when I arrived--yes!--so I got out my wallet and waited anxiously. As it turns out, the short line curse that plagues me at the grocery store and Target applies at the PO as well. You know what I'm talking about--you automatically go to the shortest line thinking, "Ha! I picked the shortest line! You dumbasses who are in the long lines can eat my receipt!" but then you realize that the dumbasses are actually brilliant fonts of intelligence and YOU are the dumbass because the person at the front of the short line has either purchased 572 delicate glass objects that must be wrapped and bagged individually, or she wants to buy something that she dug out from behind some mismatched shoes and outdated shampoo and has not seen a price tag since 2001. Anyway, the man at the front of this morning's short PO line was a Hispanic guy who was sending a 36 pound badly wrapped box to another country--I think it might have been one of his kids, there was a corner left slightly open--and he understood "yes, "10 days," and "75 dollars." I was in the post office for 20 minutes.
Going to dinner with some Elon friends tonight. Drinking beer. I don't have to be there until 5:30, but I'm leaving now because if I sit in this classroom for another second I might kill the secretary, who has left the phone intercom engaged and is broadcasting her conversation and the blaring ring of the telephone to the entire building.
Dear Diary, I'm sorry I dumped all of this on you. I could have simply said "WTF?" I think that pretty much covers it.