Thursday, February 13, 2014


The school where I work is a little bit unusual. We have a zero tolerance policy for like, everything. If a student does not complete number 21 of her algebra homework, we freak out. We hold a tribal council. We put her picture up on the Promethean board and black out all the windows of our meeting room so we can talk about her with impunity.

"What is wrong?" someone will say. 

"Perhaps she was bored," says someone else. "Is your lesson engaging?"

We all stare at the algebra teacher. Not accusingly, mind you. We want to help him. 

"Have you tried fruit manipulatives?" asks the science teacher. "They're good for asexual reproduction. We could share!"

"Maybe Lisa (not her real name) was unhappy that day," someone suggests. 

"That cannot be! How can that be?" we all simultaneously shriek.

"Let's find out," says someone else. "Pull her in."

Someone goes to get poor Lisa, who's excited to be getting out of class, when really, she should be afraid. We don't humiliate her, of course. We are teachers. We care. But, still, Lisa has to sit and have 15 pairs of eyes on her, and hear one of us (never me, never ever me) ask, "Lisa, is everything ok?"

Then we go on to ask her why she didn't do -- "did not even attempt to do" -- number 21. Lisa, by this point, is fucking terrified, even though we're all oozing sympathy. She is thinking to herself, "OMG, why did I watch that idiotic kitten/Justin Bieber/One Direction/Hunger Games/lacrosse video? Why, oh, why didn't I do number 21? Get me out of here!!"

But all she says is, "well, maybe I was distracted that night."

Soon we're all (not me, never ever me) psychoanalyzing her "choice" to not do number 21, and she is offering to do calculus derivatives (whatever that is) all night to make it up. Eventually, we let her go back to class and then discuss every single member of her extended family for the past six generations, about whom we all know everything. 

Lisa lets it be known that "all the teachers at this school are fucking nuts!" So, basically our students do everything we ask them to do for homework, very well, and usually twice.

I don't love this practice. But, I have my own torture methods. I make them talk! To each other! About shit I made them read! Sometimes, I make them do activities. And then they have to pretend to be into it. Seriously, if they don't, I get mad. I'm all like, "fake it til you make it, people. I wanna see you fascinated. Pretend all you have ever wanted is to act like a sled dog from Call of the Wild."

I have this whacked-out theory that if they act into it, they'll get into it. They get pretty silly. They laugh a lot, but while they're giggling, they claim to be miserable. They say that they hate talking to their peers; they hate activities of all sorts and would rather write a paper. They hate, more than anything, telling the rest of the class what they discovered/wondered in this cruelly enforced conversation/activity. Speaking to the class makes them want to punch themselves in the head repeatedly. I know this because I used to be one of them. And I abhorred teachers like me. I just wanted to be left alone.

So, why do I do it? I'm not a masochist. I dunno. Instinct? Because it feels like it works? Those things.

They all hate me. But they pretend to like me, most of the time. Fake it til you make it, people, or endure teacher tribal council.

Friday, February 7, 2014


Ari has recently been diagnosed with ADHD, and started taking a generic version of Ritalin. He is highly drug tolerant, our child, so the first, cheapest one worked fine with minimal side effects. The pediatrician explained to B at Ari's med check that these meds are hot commodities.

Who knew? Only in The County Where I Live Which Is Full Of Alpha Yuppies (not its real name).

"Do you keep it somewhere safe?" the doctor asked B.

One might think it was dangerous, or recreational. Nope. Just improves academic performance. Seriously.

I mean--the doctor said she has one patient who had a family-only birthday party, and his parents left his meds in an unlocked medicine cabinet. Some family member at the birthday party 



                 I made this myself.

The parents had to come back for a new prescription, which the doctor could only give them after all involved (except the thief, of course, since nobody knew who that was) had taken a polygraph and had an NSA background check and been sniffed by fire-proof dogs. Ok, I made that last part up. I think. I don't actually know what happened, or if they were able to get more meds for their son, and if so, how many hoops they had to jump through to get them. I worry for them. I cannot fathom how I would go about even the most basic of hoop-jumping while parenting my unmedicated son.

Recently, our state loosened the restrictions so that doctors are allowed to write more than one month of prescriptions at a time, but only if they are post dated, and each on a separate piece of paper, and not photocopied. I do not know how they tell. We cannot give them all to the pharmacy at once, or they'll throw the post-dated ones away. We cannot have it called or faxed in. We must hand the paper to a human being who works at the pharmacy.

I chafe at these intolerable restrictions. 

Mail order? 90 days? Forget it. And of course, we have to keep the post-dated prescriptions out of sight or Aunt Sally (not her real name) will make off with the pill bottle and the Rx. Or the dudes who fixed our home from the burst pipe will. Or Ari's play date, who is, by the way, six. However, our doctor told us we cannot discount anyone. Every human is a generic Ritalin thief.

Oh, I forgot to mention! It's also an appetite suppressant. Hear that, kids? Straight As and skinny! But don't look here because in this family, we don't play. You take our shit, and we will fuck you up. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Today when I picked Ari up, he told me a fascinating story.

Ari: Mommy! I can't even suck my sum because when we had outside time we were playin' with poison! Orange poison. I had to wash my hands, but now the orange is back. And only pigs can drink orange poison. Ziv said. He said pigs can drink poison, orange blood and not die. But if I drink it, I will have a very bad sore sroat, and I will die. 

Self: Oh?

Ari: But if God is weal, he'll come and sing to me while I'm lying, dead, and I'll come back alive again. I hope he does because then I'll get to live extra because I'll go back to being a baby!

Self: Bunny, you're too young to mourn your lost youth.

Ari: But, I wanna live forever! I wish I was a pig!

Self: Wait, why? What is the advantage of piggery?

Ari: Pigs can eat poison, orange blood and not die!

Self: Oh, what fun!

Ari: (wistfully) Yeah.

Self: But, do you really want to be a pig? Because pigs can't play iPad. Or watch tv.

Ari: (laughs uproariously) No, I was just joking. If I was a pig, I'd be stuck in a cave all my life.

Self: Do pigs live in caves?

Ari: Plus, pigs have dirty baffs. Their baffs are full of dirty. Yuck! I want to take a normal baff, wiff shampoo.

Self: Good boy. (Pause) Do pigs live in caves? 

Ari: (sighs, rolls eyes) No, Mommy, of course not. Pigs live in cages on a farm. Don't you know?

Self: Oh, right. I thought you said caves. 

Ari: I did not say caves. For goodness' sake.

Self: Ok, ok. But I think Ziv was teasing you. Pigs can't drink poison, orange blood and live.

Ari: (refrains from sounding exasperated, somehow) I know, Mommy. But, thanks.

Anytime, Bunny. Anytime.