Sunday, March 16, 2014

Who Let The Dogs Out?

We are not there yet.  It's too early. Even though the calendar shows only six more days until spring, this is Michigan, after all, and we can't count on really "nice" weather until at least the end of April.  So, I'm wondering, who wants to let the kids know this?  You would think with their excessive chattiness and their squirming and wiggling that it's springtime and the weather is warm enough to even, *GASP*, include an extra recess. 

But it's not.  

Today was one of those days when I felt frustrated and overwhelmed and just plain grouchy.  Everywhere I walked in the classroom, I had three or four little ones following me, all talking at once, asking for something, telling me something, tattling on someone, or just trailing along to see what I was doing.  A couple even followed me across the hall and into another classroom.  I couldn't shake them.

Now, 99% of the time, these little shadows don't bother me.  I can handle each of their little issues, all while passing out an assignment or fixing a netbook.  Usually even with a great sense of humor.  But today, my patience meter was registering very low and by lunch time, I couldn't take it anymore.  Thankfully, one of my little helpful cuties started up a movie (our usual Friday lunch treat) and I headed to the microwave to prepare my enticing Lean Cuisine meal.  

As the microwave counted down the three minutes, a couple of students queued up beside me clutching their little Rubbermaid leftovers.  

"Who put their lunch in there for three minutes?" asked one of them.  

This is because I always tell the longer time microwavers to let the shorter time microwavers go first.   They all were getting upset about this microwave hog.  

"It's my lunch," I told them.  "I'm hungry and irritable and I want to eat my lunch and not have to wait for twenty minutes to get my turn.  Today it's 'Teacher First'," I proclaimed, as the microwave counted down. 

They milled about, not wanting to argue, but anxious to get their lunch going and not miss any part of the movie that was already playing. The stern look on my face meant business and they weren't going to poke the tiger.

DING! The microwave announced that the meal was cooked and I carefully and slowly took it out and carried it to the back table. I plopped down and scanned the room, making sure everyone was eating and behaving themselves.  Excellent!  Perhaps I could get an entire ten minutes of time to just simply sit, eat, and relax.   

Within seconds my quiet lunch was interrupted by the boy sitting at the table next to me. 

"Do you want one of my chips?" he asked, holding one out in his little hand.  "They are really good." 

"No, but thank you for offering," I told him.

Kids pick up on everything and they knew I was a little bit crabby, so many of them were trying to help put me in a better mood.  

"Your lunch looks good!" the same little boy offered as my plastic spork piled with rice and chicken headed towards my mouth.   

I held up the Lean Cuisine box with the incredibly appetizing picture on the front and waved it towards him.  

"Well, it looks much yummier on the box," I showed him.  He nodded.  

"But it's Friday!" he added, smiling.    And I couldn't help but smile back and, indeed, I began to feel a little better.

With gym right after lunch and a movie to keep them occupied during lunch, soon the room was abuzz with the little lunchers cleaning up, talking, and changing into their gym shoes. 

Later, as the final minutes of the day ticked away, I looked at the back carpet where some students were playing chess.  I looked around the room at the student partners playing chess and chatting.   And then out of the corner of my eye I caught a little boy crawling across the floor on his hands and knees barking. Yes, that's what I said.  Barking.  Like a dog.  In the middle of the classroom. No rhyme.  No reason.  Just living in the moment, I suppose. I watched for a few minutes to see what he was going to do.  But just like that, he jumped up, walked back over to the chess game and his partner, and resumed their game of chess.  Dog no more.  

Soon we packed up and got ready to leave for the day, and interestingly enough a song kept playing over and over in my head.  A song that seemed a fitting end to my day.  

Here's hoping the weather warms soon so all the little dogs and little kids, and especially the teachers,  can get back outside. 

It is, for sure, time to let the dogs out.

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