Oops! I Accidentally Got Us Kicked Out of School: Part II

Oops! I Accidentally Got Us Kicked Out of School: Part II

“In the final stages of their evil plan to break her spirit, she was forced to wear a cardboard Christmas tree. Note the dead eyes and glazed expression.”


Don’t forget to vote for Notes from the Shallow End on Blogger Idol! Voting is live from 12:00 pm CST October 23 to 11:59 pm October 24. 

In case you’re wondering how my first day as the new kid went, here’s a hint. It was probably The Worst First Day of School Ever. There was humiliation.  There was danger. Then some more humiliation.

In short? Not exactly a dream scenario for a timid child.

My new teacher (who, to my eyes was so old she was practically mummified) gave the class a spelling test. Even though it was my first day, and I hadn’t yet studied the words, she had me take the test too. To gauge my level of knowledge? To humiliate me? I suspect the latter.

Well, I took the test. Imagine my horror when she called me up to the front of the class shortly afterward and said the following:

“Now, class. This is our new student Lisa.” (Cue looks of expectant curiosity from the class) “And I just want everyone to know that out of the entire class, Lisa was the only one to get a 100% on the spelling test.” (Cue looks of sheer burning hatred from the class). “You all should be ashamed of yourselves for not doing better!”  And then she turned to me, smiled with satisfaction, and sent me back to my seat, where I was now persona non grata. As if I had any farther to fall.

But wait… this was wrong! Teachers were supposed to be like Miss Beadle on Little House on the Prairie! They were supposed to be warm and full of hard-earned Prairie Wisdom! They weren’t supposed to drag you up to the front of class and slap a bull’s eye on you.   Even at that age, I knew I was in trouble.

At some point, one girl in particular decided to exact her revenge on me for daring to show up the class on my first day.  When it was time for music class, we trooped down to the underbelly of the school single file.  As we traversed a long hallway,  a girl I’ll call “Karen”, whose pink puffy overalls  belied her obvious future in a juvenile detention facility , turned to me and pointed to  another hallway off of the one we were in.

“Oh, new kids don’t go to music class,” she said sweetly. “They just go outside and play on the playground until class is over. You go that way.” And then she gave me a shove to point me up the hallway and out the door.

Figuring she must know what she was talking about (even I want to go back and slap myself for stupidity) I exited the double doors to find… a completely empty playground. Sensing something wasn’t right (Um, ya think?) I tried to open the doors to get back in, but they were locked.

Realizing my predicament, I did the sensible thing. I sat down on a bench and cried.

I don’t know how long I was out there before some teacher found me and brought me, all snotty and puffy-eyed, to music class. I remember walking in and locking eyes with Karen, who smirked at me and went back to singing Michael Row Your Boat Ashore.

Oh, but my humiliation wasn’t complete yet. Because the last class of the day? Was gym class. Kickball.  We didn’t play it at my old school. I’d never played kickball in my life, as a matter of fact.  Nor any organized sport whatsoever, unlike my new classmates who were all already entrenched in soccer leagues.

No one asked me if I knew how to play; I guess they just assumed I did. I didn’t get that whole running of the bases thing.  So I kicked the ball, and I understood that I was supposed to run to first, but that was where my knowledge ended. What I didn’t understand was that I was also supposed to run when the next person kicked the ball. And so this kid I’ll call “Mark” kicked the ball and came flying toward first base, where I was still standing like a dumbass. He must have been looking the other way, because POW!  He smacked into me full force like an eight year old Lawrence Taylor, knocking me flat. Result? A bloody nose, bloody lip, and a knot on my head.

As I was escorted, sobbing, to the nurse, I couldn’t help wondering what the hell kind of place my parents had dropped me into. It was like being dropped off in Dodge City with a deck of Old Maid cards and a squirt gun.

And that, friends, was just my first day.

I made it through that month, somehow, and entered third grade in the fall with a teacher who asked me if my family was “poor”, and made us sing show tunes at indoor recess. So, no, it didn’t get much better.

But for the rest of my school career, I continued to kick everyone’s ass in spelling. Because it was really the only weapon I had.

If you liked this, please vote for Notes from the Shallow End on Blogger Idol! Voting is live from 12:00 pm CST October 23 to 11:59 pm October 24.

Notes from the Shallow End


My Love Hate Relationship with May

"Scoot, children. Mama's on vacation. And this may or may not be iced tea in my cup."

“Scoot, children. Mama’s on vacation. And this may or may not be iced tea in my cup.”


Morning, readers! What’s going on, you ask? Not much, unless you count watching my dog nap while, not five feet away from him, a squirrel stuffs his pie-hole with birdseed. (Given that he’s a hunting dog, I suspect he may be broken. Pardon me while I shuffle through this pile of paperwork to see whether he’s still under warranty.)

My apologies for the total radio silence from the blog this past week. Something had to give, and unfortunately writing took a backseat to the ten thousand other things going on right now. Even when I did sit down to write, not much happened beyond my mind wandering to the logistics of the coming afternoon and evening , and contemplating how to clone myself into three different people to get three different children to three different places at the exact same time. Four if you count one to make everyone dinner. (Oh, hello frozen pizza and takeout. You are my new BFFs.)

Welcome to the chaos that is May.

May used to be my favorite month of the year. Who doesn’t love bright blue sky, cool mornings and  warm afternoon days, when everything is lush and green, and flowers are popping up everywhere? Sleep with the windows open! Hit the nursery for some annuals! Get the tomato plants in the ground! The gateway to my absolute most favorite season, summer, May was a delight to the senses. Pure perfection.

But then my kids started school. And suddenly May became the busiest time of the year, putting even December to shame. Yardwork goes undone, flowers go un-smelled. Between field trips, talent shows, Olympic Day, sports events, sports practices, rehearsals, and class picnics,  some days brushing my hair counts as miraculous.  And did I mention every single activity requires its own end of year potluck or picnic?  Yes, that too. Take the above and multiply it all by three.  Ugh.

“Come and play!” May whispers. “Remember when we used to have such fun together? It can be like that again!”

“No can do, May! Gotta drop one kid at practice, go pick another one up, come home and start dinner, then get another kid across town for rehearsal!” I shout as I run out of the house and leap feet-first into the window of my mini-van like Bo Duke, my mind already racing ahead  to calculate the best route to avoid rush hour traffic. I fire up the engine while slinging juice boxes and peanut butter crackers, and roar off up the street while May waves sadly from the porch.

I promised myself that I wouldn’t be one of those moms… the kind who overschedules her kids and then constantly complains how busy she is. So please forgive me for this one ranty post. My kids don’t have an overabundance of scheduled activities. They only do one sport per season. We shy away from any activity that would be too much of a time commitment.  But, by virtue of the fact that they exist, and attend school, the commitments stack up this time of year.

I don’t do it alone, thank goodness. Most days VP can get home in time to help with child-delivery or pick-up service, or be on hand to get dinner out of the oven.  I realize I’m blessed from that standpoint, because the days he can’t get home in time, or is out of town, are logistical nightmares.  The days that leave me praying for a torrential rain that will cancel at least one evening activity.

People ask me all the time if my kids do day camps in the summer. The answer is no. We take the summer completely off of scheduled activities, except for swim lessons. The kids sleep in, they play with the neighborhood kids, they have lemonade stands. They swim, they play in the sprinkler, they draw endlessly with sidewalk chalk. My role in the summer switches from chauffer/schedule coordinator  to distributor of snacks and sunscreen. I can finally enjoy the season with them, but we just have to get through this month first.

Because, May? I hate to say it, but you’ve changed. It’s like… I don’t even know you any more.

She Blinded Me with Science


Wilifred glumly realized that her capacity for retaining scientific facts now approximated Swiss cheese.

Winifred glumly realized that her capacity for retaining scientific facts now approximated Swiss cheese.


Please indulge me while I go back in time and have a talk with the me from last week.

Hi, it’s me. I mean you. Or whatever. Just listen up for a sec. You’re about to get an e-mail asking for volunteers for a school event. Don’t be so quick to reply “yes”. You need to know what you’re getting into first. Because here’s the thing: it involves science. Not only does it involve science, it will require you to get up at the stinkin’ crack of dawn (“Stinkin’ crack”. Hehehe.) Where was I?

Right.  Science. Do you remember 7th grade science? No? That’s because you have blocked it out, my friend. Let me jog your memory just a bit: It involved a very mean hulking science teacher man who yelled, yelled, at little tiny 80 pound seventh grade girls because they couldn’t memorize the freaking periodic table.

You suck at science.

Here’s what’s going to happen. You are going to arrive at an ungodly hour (it will still be dark out) clutching a cup of coffee and stand there in a freezing cold gymnasium (hoping that someone will please shut the goddam double doors thankyouverymuch) with the other hapless volunteer parents.

You will expect that the science museum will have provided a knowledgeable staff to interact with the children, and to answer the children’s questions. Science-y questions. Because why?

I’ll say it again. You suck at science.

But you will assemble in front of  the one staff member that the science museum has sent, hereafter known as Perky Science Museum Lady, and she will begin leading you all around to the various displays.  She will explain in great detail how they work, the goal of the activity, and the scientific concepts the children are supposed to learn, along with Very Thoughtful Questions to ask the children as they are up to their little elbows in building a wind turbine or calculating gas mileage.  Unfortunately, all you will hear is this: Waah wah wah wah kinetic energy wah wah wah electrical current wah wah wah wah wah wah non-renewable resource blah blah blah etc.

It will begin to dawn on you that you may be in over your head. Because your mom brain is incapable of retaining any information of greater import than the name of Holly Madison’s new baby. (It’s Rainbow. Duh. No, you read that wrong. It’s not Rainbowduh. There was a period. But that would be hilarious, right?)

See what I mean? Your brain isn’t geared for science. Anyway, you will begin to panic a bit and consider faking a tiny stroke so you can leave.

You will be assigned a station. Then? You will be handed a binder, which contains all of the scientific information relevant to that station. Your station, complete with hand-cranked generator, will be geared toward espousing the virtues of those squiggly light bulbs that you hate because they give  your house a dim glow  more reminiscent of   “Cold War Soviet Union” than “House Beautiful”.  (Can I get an Amen for proper lighting please? Thank you.)

The children will file in and will beeline for your station, and you will gamely try to talk about “why this light bulb uses less energy than the other one” but then you will think, “Oh, wait, maybe it’s the same energy, but not as much power? Or the same power, but less energy? Or same power and energy, but more efficient?” and you will try to subtly check the binder because you remember seeing a formula in there somewhere.

And as you’re checking the binder and trying to make sure the kids take turns turning the crank to make the light bulb go on, you will sense a presence over your shoulder. It will be Perky Science Museum Lady, and she will be helpfully telling the children all sorts of smart-sounding information that was in the binder which you should have told them but which you have forgotten already. She is Science-Shaming you.  Because obviously you cannot be trusted with these young minds. And you will feel like you have disappointed Perky Science Museum Lady greatly.

Did I forget to mention that you will sign up to be a full-day volunteer? Rookie mistake.  Sign up for the half day, fool! You’ll be home by lunchtime!

All day the children will keep coming like pilgrims to Mecca, and by the way approximately 38% of them will be picking their noses. Like some sort of gross tic. And you will be praying that an errant booger doesn’t find its way onto anything you have to touch.

Eventually you will give up on trying to teach the children anything science related when you realize they aren’t actually listening to a single word you say. Because like you, most of them have the attention span of a sand flea and once they have turned the crank to see the light bulb go on, their eyes glaze over and they hear waah wah wah waah energy efficient waah wah wah. All they want to do is hightail it to the next activity.

So you will turn it into a game of “Let’s pretend the power is out all over the world and it’s up to you to turn this crank to keep the power on and unless you do everyone on the planet will perish!” Which the kids will love, but which will cause Perky Science Museum Lady to sidle by and give you the stink-eye.

Anyway, I just wanted you to know what you’re getting into before you say yes and hit “send”. You’ll survive, and at the very least, in the end you’ll have a general understanding of how light bulbs work.

I’m pretty sure the quadratic equation is involved somehow.



Parents vs. Parents: A Bear-y Special Episode

He's coming for you. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

He’s coming for you. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Ladies and Gentlemen, introducing the latest way to make parents feel inadequate, the “Class Bear”.  It may take a different form in your school. It may be “Sniffles, the Class Hamster” or “Binky, the Class Iguana” but trust me, it’s coming your way. Be warned. Be afraid.

In the latest incarnation of “our family is better than yours”, similar to the Annual Christmas Letter, a stuffed critter of some sort is sent home for the night with your child. One night. And based on that one night you are expected to take said critter on “adventures” and document the whole affair.

I don’t know about you, but in our house, right now after school consists of snack-homework-play-dinner-bed. We don’t have too many exciting adventures in the wintertime when it is 20 degrees outside and my kids dive under the couch blankets when they get home,   staying there until they are extracted by the jaws of life for bedtime. As far as adventures, let’s just say unless my son pulls a real live grizzly cub out of his backpack, the after school hours are going to be uneventful.

You never know when it’s going to be your turn for the class bear. For us, it was yesterday. When my son pulled the bear and accompanying journal out of the accompanying “Bear-y Special Backpack”, I wasn’t too worried at first. But then I saw the previous entries in the “Bear-y Special Journal. Were these people serious? My kids’ baby books didn’t have this much work put into them! (No, really, they didn’t. Just sayin’.)  There were photographs. There was beautiful lettering. There was… layout! And design! Where did these parents find the time in one night to put this much effort into this project?

I perused the journal entries. Uh- oh.  It appeared, as it so often does, that other families have it more together than we do.  I’m not that mom, and I won’t compete in the Fabulous Olympics of Parenthood. I’m all for lowering the bar, so to speak. So here’s how it went down:

Them: “We were so thrilled to welcome Mr. McFluffy into our home!”

Us: “We grudgingly accepted that it was our turn.”

Them: “After joining Augustus for his after- school snack, quinoa cakes (mmmm, delish!) Mr. McFluffy was just in time to accompany Augustus on his flying lesson! Mr. McFluffy really enjoyed the new Cessna 172 Skyhawk, and asked if next time we can go higher! (Tee Hee!)”

Us: “Yep. Pretty much the same, except substitute “cupcake” for quinoa cake and “an hour or so of Nick Jr.” for flying lessons.”

Them: “Then it was on to violin lessons. Mr. McFluffy was very patient and a great audience as Augustus played his latest composition, a piece reminiscent of Bach’s Violin Concerto in d Minor.  But of course he had his own spin on it, doesn’t every kindergartener?  Those crazy kids! LOL!”

Us: “Bear and Boy played with Legos for a while.”

Them: “After eating a healthy, organic, locally grown dinner during which we of course spoke only Latin, Mr.  McFluffy asked for some dessert. We explained that sugar is never allowed in our home, (Booo to sugar!) but he was very happy with the yummy kale and wheat berry smoothie we prepared for him instead! (Yay for leafy greens!) “

Us: “Spaghetti, followed by another cupcake. Plus one for Mom. Do green sprinkles count? Didn’t think so.”

Them: “After that, he settled in to listen to a story. He really seemed to enjoy    Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. What a hoot! After all, what bear doesn’t like a bit of lighthearted entertainment?”

Us: “Settled in with a Pokémon Adventure Book. Mom had trouble following the plot.”

Them: “Listening to Shakespeare seemed to inspire Augustus to write more of his sci-fi novella before bedtime (Oh, the excuses kids will invent to stay up later! LOL again!).  I think Mr. McFluffy even helped Augustus with some of the dialogue issues he has been having.”

Us: “Bath time. Also with Legos. What? They’re waterproof.”

Them: “After that, Mr. McFluffy even helped Augustus write letters to his pen pals in the Ugandan orphanage. What fun they will have when they receive greetings from a bear far away!”

Us: “Five minutes of the boy already asking for birthday presents, though his birthday isn’t for another 4 months. “ 

Them: “Of course we did our pre-bedtime yoga as usual, and then it was off to dreamland in our sustainably grown organic bamboo sheets. Nighty night!”

Us: “Flannel sheets courtesy of Bath, Bed -n- More. Probably environmentally ruinous, possibly pesticide-laden. LOL!”

Them: “As you can see, we had such fun having Mr. McFluffy as our guest! Please enjoy our scrapbook and timeline that we hand-calligraphied along with the accompanying photographs and illustrations, and its Latin translation on the facing page.”

Us: “Please enjoy our entry, as it was handwritten with an almost new Bic pen. Plus the 4 small pictures printed off the printer in the basement because the other one is broken, and stuck in with Craft Glue right before the bus came.” 

See that? Bar lowered. To the next parents in line to receive the bear and journal:  You’re welcome. I do what I can.