Sick days have been on the minds of many educators in KY, ever since our state’s governor accused us of “hoarding” them to pad our pensions. You know what? That really hurt my feelings. I take my job very seriously and focus on it so much during the school year that I don’t always see punches like that coming at me. Educators had a lot of punches thrown at us from the government while I was teaching in NC too, and, at first, they always caught me off guard as well. I’m not going to get into any issue here, other than the sick day thing, except to say that I never understand why teachers, as a whole, seem to get so much bad press, when most of us are simply out here working our tunnel-vision butts off every day to support students.
Now, back to sick days: Hmm . . . I can’t speak for anyone else, but I never really considered myself to be a greedy hoarder of anything, including sick days. Rather, I thought I was being more professional by avoiding unnecessary absences. How can I be an effective teacher if I’m away from my classroom and students any more than is absolutely essential? Plus, folks, ain’t nobody got time to create unnecessary sub plans!
I’ve always earned one sick day per month of service in teaching, but have only used a handful of them, usually for family medical emergencies or the occasional medical appointment I can’t set up after school. So, over the course of 15 years, it appears that I have hoarded around 136 sick days. Well, . . . but, . . . when I left my position in NC to move back home to KY, I abandoned 110ish unused sick days that will not pad anyone's retirement and I will never have access to those days again, unless I move back to NC within 5 years of my resignation. That isn’t likely to happen, so, apparently, I’m not very good at this greedy teacher hoarding business after all. Come to think of it, didn’t I actually save the state of NC several thousand dollars in sub pay by donating all those days back to them? I should have their people call my new governor to put in a good word for me.
Enough with all that! Now, let’s move on to kids and what’s ailing them . . .
Can I get a Band-Aid?
Sent home a little boy covered in Band-Aids today. First, he scratched a scab off in the morning, so he had one on his ankle. Then, he tripped on the track as we were coming in from recess. So, he had two more bandaids on his right knee, one on his left, one on the palm of his hand, and one on his elbow. We emailed his mom to warn her in case she didn’t recognize him when he got home. He was worried that she wouldn’t.
"Mrs. Ellis, my nose hurts."
"Ok, so did you hit it on something or do you need to blow it?"
"I'm pretty sure it's because I just took a big drink of water and it just came back out that way."
Is Band-Aid paper ‘post ta be on the floor?
Little girl comes to me with a cut on her finger. Since her hand was filthy dirty, I told her to go wash it first, before we put on a Band-Aid. She quickly obeyed, ran over to the sink and washed. A minute later she comes back with a look of amazement on her face and says, “I don’t know what just happened here, but whatever that black stuff was that was on my hands came right off when I washed!” Hmm . . . I may be going out on a limb here, but I’m thinking, DIRT?
Be warned: The Tooth Fairy needs to work on punctuality and may need to stop at the ATM more often. A tooth was lost in class yesterday (of course, by "lost," I mean it was worried with, talked about, and wiggled all day long). When inquiring into the aftermath today, it was reported that, "When I got up this morning, there was no money, but I went down to breakfast and, after that, I found the money under my pillow. I was not happy about that waiting. But, she did leave me $3.41."
I picked off my scab AGAIN. Need another Band-Aid.
Time to take out the trash! Hmm . . . I wonder which trashcan was sitting nearest the table with all the allergy flare-ups?
Two important, yet unrelated, things I learned in school this week: 1. If you have a mouth or tooth injury, you can live on bananas for a few days. They're great, because you can stuff a big chunk in your cheek and squish it until it turns to liquid. 2. If you THINK vomit may have splattered on your shoes, but decide that your feet escaped the onslaught, you may want to take the time to check again later—this time, wearing your glasses.
Is it OK dat blood is pourin’ outta dis Band-Aid?
Student: “My stomach was hurting before I got to school this morning.”
Me: “Do you need to go use the restroom?”
Me: “Do you need to go to the restroom to throw up?”
Me: “How about a trashcan?”
Me: “Does it still hurt?”
Student: “Kind of.”
Me: “Did you tell your mom about it this morning on the way to school?”
Student: “Yeah, I told her I needed to throw up.”
Me: “What did she say?”
Student: “She said, ‘Just hold it.’”
Yesterday, we had a presentation from some local dental hygiene students. They were being observed and graded by their supervisors and by me. They were talking to the kids about the importance of good nutrition in dental health. A little girl raised her hand and said something such as, "I like my vegetables, but when I eat healthy, my poop gets REALLY. . . ." I have no idea what she said after that. She lost us all at the "P" word.
How come she always gets a Band-Aid?
So, my black suede shoes that were lightly splattered with vomit a few weeks ago got it again today. I think they're going in the trash. Must be puke attractors of some sort or another.
Today, I'm working one-one with a student and I notice that he is contorting his nose into all sorts of positions. So, I ask if he needs to take a break to blow his nose. His reply is, "No, it's just that all my boogers have dried up inside there and are starting to hurt." "OK," I say, "maybe it would help if you blew them out." After pondering for a moment, he decided, "No, I think I'll just leave 'em there."
Dis Band-Aid don’t stick.
Yesterday, during Morning Meeting, we were talking about trying to avoid the strep germs that seem to have become permanent residents in our classroom and that led to talk of tonsillectomies. One little girl shared her surgery experience and told us that it was lots of fun to go to sleep, not even knowing what was happening until she woke up later, missing her tonsils AND a front tooth. Just then, another student popped up and said that, during a strep check, he'd had his tonsils removed once too. But, he didn't have to go to sleep AND the doctor put them right back in again. Some inquiry on our part led to an explanation that the doctor removed his tonsils with a popsicle stick, probably cleaned them off, and, then, stuck them right back in again with a long Q-tip. Only took a few seconds.
(Note to anyone who may think I’m a total meanie who sits around and laughs at kids all day: I always try my best to explain what REALLY happened in these situations—Teachable Moments, you know—but, only after I revel in the extreme cuteness for a few seconds. I think that’s fair.)
Why is it that kids manage to throw away their own trash all day long, until it comes to Band-Aid wrappers and dirty tissues? Regardless of where they stop to put on Band-Aids, that’s where the little piles of paper are abandoned—and, it’s usually on a corner of MY desk. Dirty tissues? EVERYWHERE!
In case someone hadn’t noticed already . . . she advertised on the side of her desk to make sure everyone realized that her cast was finally gone!
Second graders seem to come down with every malady you can possibly imagine, but, today, I learned of a new one: "Mrs. Ellis, it feels like my taste buds are peeling off." Since I'm not an expert on taste buds and he seemed just fine, I gave it my usual, "Make sure you tell your mom about that when you get home."
Ack! Paper cut! Need a Band-Aid!
"Miss Ells, can I go see the nurse? My head has been beeping for a while and, now, my ears are starting to beep too." (You'll all be relieved to know that it turned out to not be a terribly serious, nor a contagious, case of The Beeps) I’m so glad I didn’t catch it, because it would have been incredibly difficult to create sub plans with a beeping head.
One of my students "needs" at least one Band-Aid EVERY day. A couple of days ago, he showed me a blister on his thumb. Like always, I told him to get a Band-Aid. Yesterday, he showed me the blister again. After I suggested that he get another Band-Aid, he said, "Oh, no! I don't need one anymore! My blister busted open and all the runny juice squirted out already." On a positive note, we are working on adding more descriptive detail in our writing . . .
Why is dere anudder bloody Band-Aid in da floor?
"Mrs. Ewwis, wemember when the dental heawf lady came the other day and told us to bwush our teef for two whole minutes? Well, guess what? I bwushed mine for 5 minutes - 5 WHOLE MINUTES! See those two wight there (pointing to his upper front teeth)? Covered in pwaque . . . witerawy . . . I mean covered in pwaque. I hit that."
A student came walking in one morning this week, with a concerned expression:
Me: "What's wrong? Are you OK?"
Student: "I'm all stuffed and my mom doesn't even know."
Me: "Your nose is stuffed?"
Me: "Why doesn't your mom know?"
Student: "'Cause I didn't tell her."
Miss Ewwis! Why you always outta Band-Aids?