Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tying shoes: One of the many joys of teaching Kindergarten.

"Have you had those in your mouth??"  

There was a list of questions I would automatically recite to each Kindergarten child whenever a foot was shoved in front of me, as if they were putting their left foot in, for the Hokey Pokey. On occasion the list would be omitted, and I would immediately begin tying, doubling the knot in hopes of preventing a repeat performance of the Shake-It-All-About. That would be when the shoestrings flopping about those small feet would be obviously dry. 

HOWEVER, if the shoestrings were WET, the list of questions was absolutely, positively mandatory. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. 

The hands on the clock would often indicate the intensity of wet shoestring interrogation:

Wet shoestrings before 10:30-- Minor questioning should suffice. "Have you had those in your mouth?" If head bows and no answer, its definite.  Shoestring sucker, guilty as charged. I would always respond with, "Now what makes you think I would want to get my fingers all tangled up in those strings after they have been in your mouth??"  I would give them a "look" as I walked over to get some paper towels, and try to sop the spit from the soggy strings.  Then, post spit sopping, I would tie the strings, reminding them that if this happens again, they had better have a tiny hairdryer in their backpack to dry those strings before Mr. Creel is going to be tying them again!  Oh, yeah, and then I would go wash my hands. With soap.  

Wet shoestrings during recess-- Mud puddles the most likely culprit, immediate shoe tying could commence. Or, if they looked most questionable, out would come the Kindergarten teacher's Recess Mantra:  "Find a friend!"  Hey, better their fingers than mine! 

Wet shoestrings upon returning to classroom after recess-- ALERT!! ALERT!! DANGER!! DANGER!! FULL RANGE OF QUESTIONING MUST, I REPEAT MUST BE USED!!   Reasoning behind this extreme precaution?  Kindergartners stopped by the restroom prior to returning to the classroom after recess!  Boys receive full range of questioning, especially those whose shoestrings are most always in the state of being untied.  "When did your shoestrings come untied? At recess? In line? Were they untied in the Bathroom? Did you stand up or have to sit down?"   Sigh...at this point, I know that "Find a friend" would be shirking my teacherly duty, so I give the "look," prepare multiple thicknesses of paper towels and do my best to get those yellow shoestrings into some semblance of affixment, then disinfect my hands for the next 30 minutes.

It is usually at a sobering moment such as this, that I remind the class that Mr. Creel ONLY ties shoes until Christmas!  Upon first announcement of this shocking revelation, eyes pop wide open and a few gasps can be heard. I ask those who have already mastered this intricate skill to raise their hands. Those still struggling, glance around the classroom, making note of hands raised.  "See those hands in the air children? They will be your best friends in January!  So make shoe tying your nightly 'homework' or look in to the possibility of Velcro."

Now, boys and girls, it is rest time...  Please get out your rest towels while Super Sleeper decides who he will rest with today.  WHAT is that I see in your mouth??  Don't think I'm going to tie those again today....

P.S. Don't EVEN get me started on what happens when Little Miss "I'm too cool for school" ties her shoestrings T O G E T H E R.  It's not pretty I tell you...not pretty at all....

Meet my Granny! (The first of many "Granny" posts to come!)

     My Granny. WHAT a character! Sula Margurite her name, she was 85 when she died on August 24, 1997.  In the time I was blessed to share the Earth with her, she became one of the people I most enjoyed being around, and in turn, the main character in what have come to be known as my "Granny stories."  She was sassy, opinionated, originator of more quips and sayings than could ever be recorded, center of her small town stage, provider of humor--tons of it, and giver of guilt--lots of it.  

     Fortunately, being her favorite grandchild, in my head anyway, I did not get quite so large a dose of the Granny guilt. Let me back-peddle just a bit before going any further, and my sister Amy and cousin Chris write me out of the will. Amy, the only granddaughter--FAVORITE.  Chris, the youngest grandchild--FAVORITE.  

     I was the FIRST grandchild, therefore I was the favorite for that reason. That, along with being the one she called when it was time to defrost her deep freezer, wash and iron the kitchen curtains, and set the dining room table with the "good china" and Fostoria for special occasions.  Also, I was the only grandchild who was never a picky eater and would make over every single thing Granny ever cooked. Granny even won me over to the Unsweetened Tea pitcher, she and I the two renegades, opting for only lemon, leaving the syrupy Sweet Tea for the rest of the family.  

     My sister Amy, the ONLY granddaughter, was most beloved by Granny to be sure.  However, Granny was one to hold her family members to measure up against folk just one cloud hop away from heavenly sainthood.  Her upstanding church brethren could do no wrong, and my sister heard all about it!  Granny especially loved to extoll the virtues of one certain church going cherub to my sister. A fine young girl this church cherub, we'll call her Monique, who according to Granny, began alphabetizing her families spice rack at the age of two. By three, Monique was filing old issues of The Progressive Farmer by featured crop and organized family sets of Nancy Drew, Zane Gray and Louis L'Amour according to the Dewey Decimal System. Each night before bed, Monique would lay out the next days wardrobe for each family member, pinning socks to the underwear. Floors were scrubbed with a toothbrush twice a week. Meals cooked, bible lessons prepared...all this before heading off to school each day.  My sister, God love her, listened patiently, smiled, nodded in agreement, marveling at the wonder of Monique, silently acknowledging her own inability to ever measure up.  All to humor Granny. 

     Then one day, a few years later, Monique went on a "vacation." For about nine months. Turns out Monique got herself knocked up and ran off to the wild west with a long-haul truck driver. Public knowledge, my Granny didn't quite know what to say. My sister, who inherited her share of Granny's wit and quick comebacks, put all in perspective, and Granny in her place. Amy reminded Granny of Monique's humanity: "NOW look where all that sock-pinning and floor scrubbing got her?!?" Granny never mentioned another word of wayward Monique, and began to see that her own kin might be the ones to be measured against! I dare say Granny gave an extra prayer of thanks for her own granddaughter that day.  Nope, Amy never did win the ribbon for sock-pinning or toothbrush floor scrubbing, but Granny did live long enough to see Amy take top honors for proper sequencing of marriage and motherhood!  

     It wouldn't surprise me a bit if Granny isn't in Heaven, extolling to the Heavenly host how HER granddaughter is just THE BEST little mother on planet Earth! Opting to cheer her children on at Tennis matches and Baseball games, Amy tirelessly serves as travel agent, coast to coast chauffeur and Room Mother to the masses each year. Why, Amy would never dream of wasting precious time worrying over such silliness as alphabetized spice racks and numerated mystery novels.  No, there is NONE like her granddaughter, Amy!!

Monique can only wish...  

This is my dear Granny, in one of my favorite photos, a true Granny Classic!  Standing watch over a church potluck with her trusty fly swatter.  Sampling the potluck fare while shoo-ing away the flies was an added bonus of her sentinel post.