This post was originally written on October 4, 2006 and posted to facebook.  My goal with this little site is to post mostly new stuff, but there are so many memories hiding on my facebook account that I kind of can’t stand to leave them there, all alone.  You may have already read this back in ’06.  Consider it a blast from the past.  Or maybe you can compare it against newer posts and see how far I’ve come…or where I’ve just sat and stayed for the past four years…hhmm…nevermind.  Read on.
There’s a kid in my reading group that I alternately adore and want to toss out a window. We’ll call him Z. Z’s family is of Samoan descent. Z is not a tall kid, but he is large. He doesn’t even really make a fist because his palms are so puffy. All Z wants to do is have fun, and if class isn’t fun, then he isn’t havin’ it. He likes to unbend paper clips and put them in his mouth like a hick would chew a piece of hay. He likes to climb over the protective grate and put his booty on the radiator. He likes to pull markers off my desk and write his name on the board, or other kids names on the board. Today he wrote on the board with a sharpie before I could stop him. Luckily I wiped it off as soon as I noticed so there’s just a little smudge left. We practice writing the sounds we learn in phonics practice on each other’s palms, and it tickles Z’s chubby little palm so badly that he giggles hysterically with little high pitched hee-hee-hee’s so his whole body shakes.

As you may have read in previous notes, my class is a circus. I lose my voice everyday at about 1:45 because I’ve just spent the last 90 minutes saying things like, “Put your shoes on. Get off your neighbor. Get off the radiator. Stop talking. Keep yourself to yourself. Stop talking. Mind your own business. Are you bleeding? Then I don’t want to hear about it. Stop talking. Am I talking? Then should you be talking? Stop talking.” Really, what I want to do is grow 12 more sets of arms, take them all by the shoulders, and yell, “SHUT UP EVERYONE!” That doesn’t go over well with parents, administrators, other teachers, the world, etc., so I’ve never actually done it. Plus, needing 12 more sets of arms makes it kinda tough.

Today we were saying our sounds. We were looking at pictures, saying the word, and then isolating the beginning sound. We do it everyday. Some kids were really into it, which always cracks me up. Its not that cool. But there was that constant hum of kids chit-chatting and pinching each other and putting their feet on each other that makes me feel like my brain is going to ooze right out of my skull. (There’s one girl who refuses to talk when its noisy like that, or even if someone else is breathing loudly. She’ll raise her hand, be called on, and then someone will cough and she’ll shoot ’em the stink eye. Then she says my favorite line of the year: Please give me the respect. But it doesn’t sound like that when she says it. It sounds like “Pweez give me the westhpect.” And the kids all just look at her like, are you nuts? And she’s the only one who says it, so I have no idea where it came from. I just nod my head and go, “She’s talking guys, give her respect.”)

I start giving the kids who are participating in the sound-saying checks on the board next to their names and slowly they start to quiet down. It happens one by one. Have you ever seen that improv game where people make a machine and they build it up one by one, each person adding a motion and a sound? Then once they’re all in, they start leaving one by one until just the first person is left, waving their arms around and yelling, “Whee!” or something. This was like that. And the last person left was Z. And he was singing. I hadn’t even noticed it with everyone else making noise, but he was singing R. Kelly “I Believe I Can Fly” with all his heart. His eyes were closed. He was reaching for the sky. “I believe I can fly! I believe I can touch the sky!”

I laughed so hard I had to cover my face with the teacher’s guide I was using so the kids wouldn’t see. And then they did see, and they wanted to know who farted, because obviously if you’re in first grade the only thing that could possibly be funny enough to make a teacher laugh is somebody farting. Farting is high humor to this crowd.

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