Archive for October, 2008

27th October
written by Michelle

It’s a fundamental question, really. Why do boys spit? And I don’t mean the kind of spitting that happens when you brush your teeth or when you bite into a mushy, rotten apple and quickly spit it out. No, I mean what possess little boys to stand on a bridge and spit into a murky, stagnant pool of water?

On Saturday morning the kids at The Village Apartments had a pumpkin carving day. Now confession, I don’t really like carving pumpkins (ask my college roommates) but I do love pumpkins for 2 reasons: 1) in Santa Barbara pumpkins outside the grocery store are the closest we get to experiencing fall and 2) I like eating all things pumpkin- pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins and my roommate just made pumpkin cookies! I spent the better part of my afternoon scooping out seeds and making sure that eager little hands didn’t get chopped off by bright orange carving knives. Here’s Hector with his finished product.

I had promised 2 of the other kids that I would take them out for ice cream because they haven’t been able to come to our weekly kids club after school. I should have known better than to mention ice cream on a hot Saturday afternoon. What I had planned to be a quick drive with 2 kids for an ice cream cone, turned into a family affair with 6 little ones! (the 2 brothers, 2 cousins, 1 step brother and one, who I’m still unclear exactly how he’s related)

So, off we went…Me, Luis, Raymond, Ruben, Franky, Hector and Luis “Angel.”

We opted to walk because my 2-door Honda is not exactly big enough for two carseats and four additional seatbelts. I felt a little bit like a mama duck, waddling after these 6 boys, trying to keep them safely on the side walk and holding someone’s hand when they crossed the street. On our way down to Los Bambinos Market, we walked across an old pedestrian bridge that crossed over this murky, stagnant creek (and creek may be a generous term, it was really more of a cement germ-festering watering hole). Without any encouragement from me they simultaneously hoisted themselves up on this white wall, some of their heads barely able to see over and low and behold, they began spitting! All six of them!

Here’s where my question comes in…Why do boys spit?

I seriously watched them for a good 5 minutes just spit, with all their little-body-spiting-power, into this dirty water. They competed for whose spit went the furthest and whose spit hit the objects floating down below. They oohh-ed and ahhh-ed over spitting. And they kept spitting. I don’t get it. Who teaches boys these things?

We continued down the street in pursuit of ice cream.

Destination: the corner store. Most direct route: Walk straight 4 blocks.

I was quickly reminded that six boys under the age of 10 have no concept for “walk straight.” They jumped off curbs, picked up rocks (and threw a few-oops), climbed up tree trunks and counted cracks in the sidewalk. These boys didn’t really “walk” at all. They would occasionally sprint ahead, running as fast they could, until I yelled in my best teacher-motherly voice, “Hey. Hey! Wait at the stop sign.” This running, stopping, jumping, throwing, climbing extravaganza continued for well over 20 minutes until we reached Los Bambinos. Ice cream at last.

However, somewhere in the process of “walking” (read: running, throwing, playing, laughing, climbing) the kids lost their excitement to get ice cream. I mean don’t get me wrong, I still bought them ice cream and they happily ate it. But as we sat on the sidewalk licking ice cream cones I wondered what my life might be like if I lived a little more like Luis, Raymond, Ruben, Franky, Hector and Angel.

I tend to “walk straight” through most of life. I have a goal or destination in mind and I just go, and normally I go quickly. I wish I was the type of person who allowed more time in life to wander or aimlessly meander down the street, but I just don’t. Granted I don’t think I’m the climbing trees-rock throwing-type of girl, but I like the idea of learning to enjoy the process as much as the final destination. And who knows, maybe I’ll start spitting when I walk across bridges?

15th October
written by Michelle

I confess my blogging grade is probably somewhere close to a D-. And not for lack of effort. In fact I sometimes start blog entries and press “save now” with all the best of intentions of finishing them later- but alas, I never finish. It kind of reminds me of my students. They almost always have the best of intentions, but they fall short on the whole follow-through thing. However, they are pretty good at giving excuses.

For instance, each morning when I question, Why are you late?
“the bus left without me.” (needless to say, they weren’t there ON TIME.)
“hey, I didn’t even hear the bell” (never mind that you can hear the bell from the street corner)
“well, my sister’s…umm….friend’s…umm…mom’s car wasn’t working” (they don’t even have a sister!)
“ms. acker i can’t walk that fast” (mind you, this was a football player. hmm?)

…and my all time favorite excuse for being tardy is…

“i was across the street at Vons cuz i wanted to buy you a get-well card, but they were all out.” (creative to say the least, (this was the week after I had sinus surgery) but doubtful.

So, I will stop making excuses and start blogging more.

This photo captures a rare moment in my classroom where almost everyone is on task, almost. I know I am supposed to be teaching English and I do…well, I do my best, to teach these future minds of America (thank you Christine) to write and read, and think clearly and analyze intelligently, and spell correctly and when to use their, there, or they’re. But the truth is sometimes I feel more like a mentoring-counselor-job coaching-disciplinarian-tutoring-mom, than a teacher.

On days like today I empathize with the student whose dad’s lost his job, and then review with 2 girls how to use the point-slope form of a line on their geometry test. I explain to another that where it says “skills and abilities” on a job application is NOT the place to list what ability level you got to in the World of War Craft video game. I remind students to “push in your chair” and “don’t forget your sweatshirt.” I write hall passes and give lunch detentions. I listen to stories about his first girlfriend, her first time getting pulled over, and when he failed his driver’s test-again! My students complain and whine and sometimes, literally moan about the work they have to do, but they also share their stories with me, they write honestly, without pretense. They laugh (with or at me-depending who you ask) and they raise their hands with thoughtful, genuine questions.

My days are never boring and almost always fulfilling. I really have no excuse NOT to blog and share a bit more of my day-to-day; my adventures in the everyday.