Friday, July 8, 2011

In The Beginning...There Was A Substitute. (That was me!)

This one goes out to all the kindergarten teachers out there.

I've made mention before of my theory that small children (much as I love them) are in reality just very short vampires that find sustenance through draining your personal energy.  They grow stronger as you become more tired and befuddled.  If this is the case (oh, and it is), I believe that I've discovered their lair.  They call it "kindergarten" and they possess the strength, energy, unpredictability, and energy-sucking capability of at least three normal vampires.

I'm really not sure how my day went.  It's sort of a blur.  I do remember one kid bawling his eyes out no less than six times BEFORE LUNCH.  I still have no idea why he was crying.  The final time I just gave up, lay down on the floor, and bawled along with him.  The best part is that he also stutters.  At one point he was crying because someone had hurt his feelings.  At least I think.  He came up to me in tears.  I asked him, myself already a little on edge, what was wrong.   Through his bawling and stuttering, I stayed stooped in front of him for five very long minutes, nodding encouragingly while casting a wild eye stare around the room at students with scissors and glue, waiting for mayhem.  At the end of the five minutes, though he was trying hard the whole time, I still couldn't tell what had happened.  At this point I uttered a banal generality.  "There are plenty of fish in China."  Or perhaps it was "there are starving students in the sea."  I've never been very adept at generalities, generally speaking.  Besides, I had to run to take crawling students off the ceiling.

One kid was suspended (not by me, but one of my kids) for fighting off and on THE ENTIRE DAY.  Trying to get them quiet except, miraculously, at naptime and during silent speedball, was an effort in futility.  I wanted to curl up on my own blue mat by ten-thirty.  I came home exhausted, with markers and blocks in all of my pockets, and feeling like I'd just been in a war.  I read Crime and Punishment on my break and found it light-hearted and humorous.  I also felt dirty.  Sure, my fingers were blue and green and I had glue on my pants, but besides that, just a general feeling of the griminess of battle.  I was an aid in a Varrying Exceptionality class yesterday, and I think I had a better idea of what was going on.  That's not a good sign.

On The Second Day...

I went back.  Today I declared war on the kindergartners.  I lost.  I judge this by the fact that at the end of the day, they left running and screaming in glee, whereas I left crawling on my hands and knees.  I put up a valiant fight, though.  After assessing yesterday’s battle while hiding in my underground bunker, I decided to change my tactics.  Realizing I needed to upgrade my warfare, I engaged in tactile, smart gummy bear bombs.  Being unable to assess the over-all effect of this procedure, however, I called for reinforcements.  Besides obtaining aid from the assistant, as well as on one occasion a fellow kindergarten teacher (who carried out an elegant ‘seize and procure’ mission to take out “The Crier”), I went for some more personal help.  That's right.  I called for “The Mom.”  Although normally opposed to “The Mom” running my operations, I could clearly see that I was outnumbered and being outmaneuvered, as well as simply ignored in lieu of bright, shiny objects.  The terrain seemed to be working in my favor, as well.  The chairs were strategically set up for one child to run aground, and two others to fall out of.    
Unfortunately, it was still too little, too late.  Despite our best efforts, I had to call the retreat.  Mainly because the bell rang and they melted back into the shadows.  But not before leaving their own paper, chair, and puzzle mines scattered throughout the territory.  This battle may be over, but the war will never stop till kindergartners everywhere learn how to line up without fighting, listen without talking or playing on the other side of the room, taking things and then forgetting where they came from, crying for no apparent reason, and generally confusing and exasperating teachers everywhere.  The end.  For now.

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