One of my favorite things about moving back home to KY is that I can enjoy all four seasons here, including a halfway decent winter. During the time I lived in eastern NC, it seemed to me that 15% of each year had temperatures that were a tad cool, while 85% of the year was full-out HOT. I don’t think I ever bought a new winter coat during my 12 years in that state. It rarely got cold enough to wear one and I could probably count on one hand the number of times we were blanketed with a measureable amount of snow. I really missed that fluffy white stuff.
Speaking of seasons (or the lack of them), whose bright idea was it to begin the NAMES of the seasons with lower case letters? Why aren’t they considered to be proper nouns all the time? As a teacher, I hammer into kids’ brains rules about capitalization, including the NAMES of the days of the week and the NAMES of the months of the year—but NOT the NAMES of the seasons? Why is that? Grrrr! Try to help a roomful of 7-year-olds (and their teacher) understand that bit of nonsense.
So—anyway—I’ve enjoyed my winters back in KY, where we actually get a little bit of snow. This winter, we managed an entire week with several inches on the ground before it warmed up enough to melt away.
Just as the super cold temperatures and snow were fading, though, it seemed that Mother Nature was gearing up to deliver us a never-ending monsoon season, with many inches of rain saturating the area. Now, I’m not opposed to an occasional rainy day, but we are talking about some substantial rain the past couple of weeks and, in all seriousness, severe flooding has become a terrible reality for many in this region. I can’t imagine how horrible it must be for those who are already affected by the current flooding, knowing that we have more rain in the forecast this week.
What does all this rain mean for school? Well, first of all, it creates some disruptive behavior patterns. You can roll your eyes if you want, and I cannot provide a scientific explanation, but, believe me, behavior gets really wonky at times like this. What causes it? Changes in barometric pressure? I have absolutely no idea what the heck it is, but it’s FOR REAL. You know I’m right, because you’ve said the same thing about your own kids’ behavior—“I don’t know what’s gotten into my perfect little angel. Must be the weather!” Yeah, multiply THAT by 500+ kids. Mmm hmm . . . lots of kids getting shushed by teachers lately and, unfortunately, the principal’s office has seemed more active than usual.
Don’t know why, but too much rain affects kids, just like all the craziness that happens when we have a full moon. Yeesh! Had one of those buggers a few weeks ago and, dang it, there’s always another one coming soon.
I don’t know what the Lunar Effect is, but it’s no joke and can adversely affect the behavior of 500+ students instantaneously. Just grab the closest kid the next time a Full Moon is on the rise and you’ll find out what I’m talking about.
Today, very matter-of-factly, a boy informs me that he is, indeed, a werewolf. "Oh, really?," I asked, "Are you sure it's a good idea to have a werewolf in an elementary school?" He assured me that it's OK—perfectly safe—and continued, "It doesn't matter about school 'cause I only change in the night." Of course, EVERYONE knows THAT, but I did ask him, "What happens if you’re out too late at night when you’re a werewolf and are too tired to come to school the next day?" Distraught, he lowered his face into his hands and muttered, "Arrrgghhh, I didn't think about that.”
(Actually, this Friday is not the 13th, but just imagine the resulting bedlam
on such a horrific day. Probably should close schools.)
Anyway—what does all this talk of snow, monsoons, and full moons have to do with anything? What’s my point? If you’re a teacher, you know exactly where I’m going with all this, and, if you’re not . . . well, you need to have some compassion, because all this talk of crazy winter weather, mud pits, and misbehavin’-lunar-affected-werewolf-babies can only lead to one nightmarish result for teachers and students across the land:
I N D O O R R E C E S S
Indoor Recess—two simple words—right? Innocent—fun stuff. A welcome break from our regular recess pattern. We get to play inside with toys, games, puzzles, Play Doh. We get to draw, color, and play games on the computers. A lazy, cozy afternoon quietly playing with our friends.
With all the melting snow and the recent monsoon, we haven’t had a regular recess schedule for a couple of months. All that precipitation turns our playground area into a mud pit that really needs to be avoided at all costs. Yes, the area around the playground equipment is mulched, which helps on drier days, but it is surrounded by a grassy area that gets super muddy. It could be worse, though—if I remember correctly, we barely got outside to our perpetually soggy playground at all for the first 3 months of 2016.
Kids need to get outside to run off some energy, to stretch, to get some fresh air, to scream as loudly as possible, to chat with their friends. Teachers NEED for kids to get a chance to do all that stuff too. Indoor wecess just doesn’t allow enough freedom and all that energy can’t be sufficiently contained within concrete block walls.
Imagine yourself cooped up in your house with your own couple of kids, yucky day after yucky day, with no end in sight—toys strewn all over the place. Now, multiply that mess and noise level by 10 or more. Get it now?
Indoor wecess simply isn’t for the faint of heart. After all these years of teaching, even I still manage to delude myself into thinking that it’s going to be great to stay inside for that extra 20 minutes. Maybe I can get some paperwork done while the kids are playing. Well, that would be true if I could focus my mind in the midst of squeals and shouts at eardrum-bursting decibel levels. All that energy inside the walls of a classroom gets very LOUD, to say the least. Note to self: take earplugs to school on the next rainy day.
Even though it sprinkled lightly the entire time, we were determined to try to have recess on the playground today. Yesterday was the first day we've been out since the beginning of the year, due to all the wet weather and mucky mud. So, of course, the children were overjoyed to get outside for the second day in a row! As expected, though, 7 or 8 kids immediately ran over to report that they felt raindrops. Why do they never seem to think I notice? One little boy's report was that, "We'd better get outta here fast! Those wain spwouts are all over the pwace!"
Today, I was trying to help a couple of boys settle an argument during indoor recess. They've been best friends for a long time, so it was unusual for them to be fighting. I reminded them of their BFF status and that they really needed to settle the issue so they could move on. Another boy, listening in, said, "Mrs. Ellis, I think they broke up."
During indoor recess on this rainy day, one second-grader was waiting for another to finish up with one of our Play-Doh cookie cutters. Impatiently, he muttered, "Speed it up over there; I ain’t gettin' any younger."
"In my ENTIRE CAREER at this school . . ." (quote taken from a conversation between two 8-year-olds during indoor recess—I have no idea what he said after that!)
We had to stay inside for recess today since it was so hot outside. We decided that would be OK and that we would use the opportunity to try out some "Brain Break" videos. It was so much fun that we decided to sample all of the 24 short videos on our list. For 35 minutes, we danced, sang, hopped, and laughed. Afterward, breathless and sweaty, with only a few minutes remaining until dismissal, a child comes up to me and asks, "So, when are we having indoor recess?"
Today . . . during indoor recess . . . a most miraculous thing occurred. I can’t remember what he said, but in an informal conversation while constructing a battalion of Lincoln Log cannons, a boy actually used the word “therefore” correctly. I’m not kidding! He said “First, I blah, blah, blah; THEREFORE, now, I need to blah, blah, blah.” It was an amazing moment!
Three kids were happily playing with Play-Doh and cookie cutters during indoor recess today. Suddenly, another boy walks over, stands right in front of them, and announces, in his best game show host voice, "OK, contestants, I'm your new judge and THIS is CHOPPED!" Then, he asked, "_____, what are you making for us today, and, ______, what are you making?" It cracked me up and I walked away. When it was time to clean up a few minutes later, I ventured back over that way. The table was filled with Play-Doh ice cream, cookie, and hot dog concoctions and the judge quickly said, "I'm sorry, ______, but you are eliminated," twice, before announcing the winner and helping clean up the mess.
Pokemon cards! Always a hit on indoor recess days! Kids watch the weather to predict the best days to bring in their cards. But . . .
One school year, throughout an election and new presidency, I had a group of boys who seemed to, one way or another, always include the new president in their indoor recess play on inclement days. Most often, it occurred when they were playing with Legos. One boy would build a model of him as soon as the Lego bin came out and they would begin their imaginary play. The strange, yet wonderful, thing was that some of the boys seemed to like our new president, while others didn’t, yet that never really affected their play at all. I suppose they simply saw the events they dreamed up from different perspectives; respected or ignored opposing views; and carried on.
Today, in the distance, I hear a sorrowful, “He was one of our greatest presidents,” and I witnessed, for the first time EVER in my life, a grave site built from Legos. It included green grass, red flowers, and a large black cross as a headstone. The burial site was for the president and his dog, who were both tragically killed in a horrific Lego helicopter crash. One boy was sadly delivering something resembling a respectful eulogy, while another looked on with a furrowed brow and mumbled to himself, “What are you talkin’ about? He was definitely NOT a good president.” Thankfully, politics don’t get any uglier than that in second grade.
Apparently, arisen from the dead, today, Lego President encountered Lego Headless Horseman. The encounter did not end well for the president and, this time, his Lego body was entombed in an upside-down plastic bin crypt.
Today, Lego President’s fate was death by Lego airplane crash. Poor guy probably needs to make more Lego road trips.
It's another rainy day, so, of course, Lego President has had another terrible mishap. I was busy, so all I heard was (very matter-of-factly), “Does anybody know where the REST of the president went?” Keep in mind that we still have a mostly bipartisan situation occurring here—some like our current president and some don’t. Honestly, I don’t think it really matters to them one way or the other. The poor guy is going to continue to die horrible deaths and be miraculously resurrected, regardless of his party affiliation. It’s beginning to remind me of the old Saturday Night Live “Mr. Bill Show” segments. Ohhhhhhhh Noooooooo!