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Humor March 2018

Agelessly Yours

All That’s Elementary Is Not Easy

By Karen White-Walker

I feel like I truly belong with the high school-age students and I tremble with excitement when I teach Death Of A Salesman and Of Mice And Men, so why did I ever accept a subbing position in the elementary school? They don’t teach the classics there, but oh, those worksheets!

Some people never know when they’re well off — mainly me. I mean, I enjoy an exceptional rapport with teenagers, and there’s never a hint of blood on the classroom walls whenever we leave. Isn’t it exciting that my students know enough to keep their hands to themselves, their tempers in check and all seem to have an infinite tolerance for a teacher who in a couple of years may be too old to see or hear them, but who has no intentions of hanging up the chalk? Maybe I should feel guilty for announcing at the beginning of every school year the same old, same old spiel. “Listen kids, if you want to give me a stroke or heart attack, just act like you sometimes do around your parents.”

I feel like I truly belong with the high school-age students and I tremble with excitement when I teach Death Of A Salesman and Of Mice And Men, so why did I ever accept a subbing position in the elementary school? They don’t teach the classics there, but oh, those worksheets!

It’s amazing that winter didn’t turn into spring considering the time it took those very short people to discard their winter gear. There outta be a law — no more than 15 pounds of clothing per child. By the time they straggled into the classroom I was eyeing the rescue window for a quick escape. But they had their problems too when they discovered that I didn’t do things EXACTLY like the young, pretty Ms. Johnson. Soon they were all begging to go see the school nurse complaining of headaches, diarrhea and the urge to throw up.

How was I to know that when distributing worksheets the yellow group gets theirs first, red group second, and the blue section last. Hands were waving, lower voices became sopranos, and the faint-hearted ones flung themselves on to the floor, looking like victims of a plane crash.

My cardinal sin was when it was time for them to line up for lunch and silly me, didn’t know there’s always a designated line leader. I pointed to a forlorn little lad to “lead the way.” Suddenly a freckled little face was plastered with tears.

“Ms. Johnson said I’M the line leader,” he wailed, so I had to do some rearranging — fast. But I wasn’t finished — not by a long shot. Did you know that those little darlings should be filed in line according to the lunch menu? First cheeseburger...second, hot dogs...third, PB&J...and finally those who brown bagged it. I snatched, from one packer, a brown bag to breathe into. Hey, what’s a person to do when suffering from a panic attack?

The best thing about high school is that there aren’t perpetual water fountain and bathroom breaks. Why haven’t administrators caught on that there’s a correlation between drinking and bathroom visits and, to eliminate the former would probably cancel out the other, then all day long you wouldn’t be missing half the class.

But look, what do I know? I’m simply a sub who can teach iambic pentameter and iambic trimeter in Shakespearean works, but I can’t decipher a crummy second-grade worksheet. It’s true because that rotten worksheet had pictures on it depicting the things we had just read about in a short story.

Write the names of the pictures that have an X in them, the instructions read. No problem — wanna make a bet? There was a sketch of a boy and a bold black arrow pointed directly to his head. Immediately biology terms pertaining to the head flooded my brain — cerebral cortex, prefrontal cortex, choroids plexus and neocortex.

But weren’t these words far too advanced for second grade? I was totally stumped, but not those second grade geniuses. All that crummy, lousy arrow at the boy’s head meant was to label his name — Max!

Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to understand. Like who would ever want to be an elementary grade school teacher? Funny, all those teachers of little tykes looked at me like I was crazy to work with teenagers, but the sure have never made me as nervous as "MAX" has!

 

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