Sunday, September 15, 2013


Trying to find the treasure.
One of the refreshing parts of teaching elementary schools is the fact that students have no filters between their brains and their mouths. For example, I have a student who comes up to me every morning, pats my stomach, and says,”You eat too much.” Most people say that behind my back, but not the Dr. Phil of Nunam. I have a daily reminder that I do, in fact, eat too much. I remind her that sometimes telling adults things like that could hurt their feelings. She just smiles and says, “I know”.  She must be made of sugar. 

I hear things that make me laugh. During Social Studies, we were talking about different jobs in different communities. Since there are few jobs here, it didn’t take long to list them. I then started talking about the jobs available in Anchorage. Remember, I teach a multi-grade class: 2nd- 4th grade. Kids brought up the regular jobs, like police, firemen, and Walmart. I told my class that they could even make pizza at a Chuck E. Cheese. One student got real excited and even asked if I was kidding. I assured him I was not. He then asked how much he would have to pay them to work there. I had to reteach my lesson on employment.

Let the competition begin!
And I hear things that make me cringe. We have only one bathroom for our students at the school. This includes all of the high school students. So when I give my kids a break, I am always in the bathroom with them. Bigger kids can sometimes bother the little ones, so I make sure I protect my littles. Plus, left alone, they can make an awful mess. The other day, two boys went into the two stalls. As they did their business, they began talking about who could poop the most. It became a bragging point for one, who seemed quite proud of his earlier accomplishments. I guess if you can deliver the goods, flaunt it.

But when adults have that same missing filter problem, it is neither amusing or cute. We see these adults on Facebook, telling the world how their Irritable Bowel Syndrome has  been affecting them at work lately. Or people shouting to the world about how outraged they were at Miley Cyrus and her twerking. I didn’t care, so I never watched the video and continued with my life as usual. But more and more people complained, so I had to find out what twerking was. So I googled it and found out that twerking meant “to dance in a sexually suggestive manner”. So of course I had to watch it, several times. Miss Cyrus seems to possess some above average athletic abilities, but I was not outraged. My takeaway was that she was going to have some lower back problems when she gets older. Maybe as I get older I will become more outraged at what other people do with their own time. But for now, we should filter out outrage a little, because we are sounding like angry, old men, shaking their fist at the kids and telling them to “Get off my lawn!”

So, I would much rather listen to my kids talk about poop (daily) and remind me that I should cut back on my chili and rice portions. But I don’t think I want to hang out with them all of the time, because they do complain about some silly things. Like, “Why do we have to write so much?” “Why do we have to learn history?” “Why do we have to do your laundry and wash your dishes?” To be fair, they had a point on that one. But, clothes don’t wash themselves, so what are you going to do?

Sunday, September 1, 2013


This weekend was our 10 year anniversary. That means Monica has been hearing me say for the past 10 years, “Well, deal with it, we’re married.” And I have been hearing a boatload of things from her. Mostly instructions. “Don’t eat that.” “Pick up your underwear and socks. The ones in the kitchen.” “Take a shower. With water” “Throw that away, that’s not a suppository!”

With a directive purpose, I have become a better person under her supervision. I have been a much happier person because of Monica. I know the next 40 years of my life will continue to be a happy adventure with my best friend. 

Recess. I'm the one in the tan jacket.
In other news, school started last week. With the first day of school, there were new students in my class. I am teaching a younger demographic this year: 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades. The 2nd and 3rd graders are new to my classroom, so there is still some anxiety with them. They are not sure how to deal with me yet. Their last teacher was a quiet, elderly lady who is much kinder than I am. I’m big, hairy and loud. Not what the kids wanted to see and hear from their new teacher. It was more like a bear encounter for them. It didn’t help that I hid behind the coat rack and jumped out at them and roared when they came into the room for the first time. They’ll get used to it eventually.

Our school has lost several students from last year, so my class has only 10 students as of now. The number will probably change during the year, as families and kids tend to move around a lot. So I expect to add a few more students as the year progresses, but right now I have about half as many as I had last year. That doesn’t always make it easier, but I promise not to complain. I realize there are teachers at other schools who are dealing with 30+ kids in their classroom. A real bear would come in handy for them.

Our school and our new housing.
Learning to manage younger kids will take time. It’s been only four days of school, but I am proud of myself that I haven’t made a student cry yet. Some have looked like they might when I was ‘redirecting their behavior’, but they held strong. Monica says they are still terrified. I think they are just being polite. I am excited about our Big Ten and what we’ll learn this year.

If there is an afterlife, I feel confident I will be allowed into the good part of town, the one they call Heaven. I imagine the scenario would go something like this: 
St. Peter:  Wow. (Shaking his head.) This does not look good.
Me: What do you mean? (Drinking a beer.)
St. Peter: (Pointing to a list of several violations against humanity) These!
Me: Oh, those. But what about this? (Pointing to a picture of Monica)
St. Peter: Well, if she put up with you for 50 years, I guess we could put up with you for eternity. Now, throw that away, that’s not a suppository.