Countdown to Summer

I try to conjure days of yore, the days before my work and family and turning 47 consumed my own “so-called life” life. I yearn for my younger days as an elementary student- waiting for the last days of school; counting down with large, crossed out numbers on the side blackboard. These numbers greeted us daily. When the number came to show 10 days of school left, we instinctively slipped into nautical time keeping mode. (A period from noon of one day to noon of the next, used in reckoning time aboard ship.)

The realization that the end is nigh is directly related to  the “switch out” of our school uniforms. Spring uniform policy dictated that our long sleeved, stiff,  white oxfords be exchanged for the short sleeved stiff, white oxfords.  Dark, stiff tartan skirts were tossed into space to be frantically searched for in the fall and replaced by lighter colored stiff skirts. Lighter sneakers or shoes were now permitted. No more ankle destroying penny loafers to slip on down the carpeted school stairs with!

The space between May and June is a tricky one to fill for both students and educators. I attended the same school with the same kids from 1st to 8th grade. We knew exactly how to fill that space- whether it be “Heads down, thumbs up!”, or nerf ball games that required us to stay seated in our chairs, or maybe a little paper-football tourney?

How about that amazing thing called outdoor recess. Once those recesses hit 4 days in a row without pouring rain we knew we were in it to win it.

Outdoor recess  is when we realized that the saddle shoes STILL weren’t scuffed enough to provide a gal any traction. Traction for games such as  Rounders or Run-Across or, God forbid, Red Rover-the violent game that would cause chaotic response from current day teachers.  Recess is when we watched the gym teacher lazily perched on the side wall with a whistle and a bag of Fritos (so unfair!) , chatting with another teacher who was grading literally a 2 foot pile of assignments, as we ran carefree and often policed our own fun.

The best part about that playground was that it was an empty church parking lot.

When it wasn’t filled with cars, it was absolute nirvana. BOYS CHASE GIRLS! Someone always screeched and yelled and ran. Everyone immediately scattered to find their own gender to make a plan. The goal is to bring the other team members to “jail” situated at the base of the ancient, ginormous tree at the corner of the asphalt. Watch out for someone beaming golf-ball-sized acorns at ya!

We had Playground Mothers- I found myself stranded  4 feet in the air on top of the metal bars of “The Spider”.  Our  antique and enormous hand bell rang to signal the end of recess. As everyone bolted towards the doors to be allowed back in the schooo, I remember tentatively yelping out , “Mother?” “Mom?” I can’t remember now if we were told to just call them Mom or what, but eventually one would see me and haphazardly lift me down and I was really embarrassed every time.

I watched with jealousy as other girls and boys who were clearly more gymnastically inclined spinning- spinning- spinning with one leg wrapped around the bar, arms hooked, never stopping. I cringed and was almost sick when another student flew off the swings on swingjumperthe “jump-off” swing game and broke his leg.  I remember one unfortunate 1st grade event in which a school mate peed on the swing seat and wouldn’t move until a Playground Mother swooped in to save the day.

I remember warning others to BACK IT UP!!!! WAYYY UP!!!! when the athletic stars of our class were up to kick during kick ball. We knew everyone’s kick style. We knew the “faker” – one that acted as though that ball was gonna soar over the building onto Frederick Avenue and instead  stopped the ball with the foot and ran like hell for first base.

We knew which girls had the hardest shoes and the fastest, strongest legs and the boys who were tough and the those who would never ever actually connect with the ball throughout the game-those whose legs seemed to whiff right over that incoming ball. Awkward. There’s one in every class.

We had water fountain lines and no-buttsies. We had a bell ringer and dark heavy oak classroom windows that opened out for a view of the playground. No screens.  We only had to navigate two levels, two hallways and two sets of heavy wooden swinging doors. We knew where the school vacuum and cleaning supplies were located-underneath the great big giant stairs in front of the teeny tiney principal’s lair. It was like Narnia! We had warm chocolate milk boxes. The kind that were so difficult to open properly and you usually ended up stabbing the box repeatedly with a pencil to get to that salmonella.

St. Martins

The author’s school from Grades 1-8. St. Martins of Tours, Gaithersburg, Maryland

We knew on Wednesday we had confession. In that church on those freezing, ass-numbing-pews some of us would carefully paw through the hymnals stuffed into those tilted shelves. Some would stare straight ahead at Jesus on the cross in a hypnotic type state waiting for their turn. Others would utilize this time warp by cleaning out their noses or flicking the person’s shoulders in front of them. Still one would continually lightly paw the hair of those seated in front and act completely offended and annoyed when blamed for the intrusions.

Most would wait, their limbic system on high alert, destroying nail beds while waiting for their turn. Just coming up with sins to confess when you are in 5th grade was an emotional and confusing battle.

We would finally be ensconced in the cool, darkened confessional and confess things like, “I told my Dad I turned the TV off when I really didn’t” “I ate the rest of the ice cream and blamed it on my brother”.

I dutifully counted off my penance prayers on my fingers while watching the rest of the class enter and exit the booth in which our sins would be cleansed.  Our biggest scandal was having the priest snoring on the other side of the mysterious grate.

I could use that confessional now…

So the countdown to last day of school continues. My sons didn’t have the opportunity to bond with classmates for 2 years due to the pandemic. I hope for that to change so they can gather memories such as mine from their first years in school.

It may be with masks on our faces greeting our teachers or saying goodbye to my sons’ classmates this year that makes this countdown all the more amazing. This is a countdown that I’ll never forget. Get out the paper footballs.

As I write, it’s officially 30 days until summer vacation. Let the countdown begin!

The Landscaper’s Wife

After 15 years of marriage this year, I’ve compiled a list of phrases I’ve been honored enough to hear over and over from my husband, a small business owner of over 25 years…check out his site so I can continue hearing them in my sleep. Environmental Landcare Maryland

10. The rain just won’t stop.

9.  We need rain so badly.

8. The flowers are all confused.

7. The yard could use some weeding. (Uh, isn’t that YOUR job?)

6. Who left the hose on?

5. I’ve got a truck broken down on the side of 97 N.

4. It’s just my busy season.

3. The last thing on everybody’s list is to pay their landscape bill.

2. The last thing on everybody’s list is to pay their landscape bill.

1. The last thing on everybody’s list is to pay their landscape bill.

Lucky me.

Where It’s At-The Privilege of Living Where I Live

blueangels2018The East Coast is where it’s at.  Maryland. Annapolis. Even sweeter.

Growing up on the water, my two sons are the LUCKIEST DUCKIEST kids alive.

Growing up with friends who have boats? Priceless! They have NO IDEA HOW GOOD THEY HAVE IT.

Fab Facts:

  •  A big chunk of the Bay came from space. “An asteroid or huge chunk of ice slammed into Earth about 35 million years ago,” reported the Washington Post, “sending tsunamis as far as the Blue Ridge Mountains and leaving a 56-mile-wide hole at the mouth of what is now the bay.”
  • The scientific name for the blue crab is Callinectes Sapidus, which means “beautiful swimmer that is savory.”
  • Blue crabs will eat almost anything, including each other!  The older crabs often eat the younger ones…which is what I tell my kids will happen to them if they don’t just chillax at times.

FACTS ABOUT OUR BAY

  • Plant a Tree!Trees help to clean the soil by absorbing harmful nutrients.  Trees also help prevent erosion, keeping harmful sediments and nutrients out of the Bay.HOW? Environmental Landcare-Small Business

Just a little shameless self promotion above 😉

Cell Phone Stores

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Why is it that every Verizon Store I go to there are 5 people sitting, 6 wandering, and 11 staring blankly at random cell phone crap for sale on the walls- for 54 minutes- and only TWO employees on site?

Also, my son and I were luckily able to witness a 25-year-old male with manpris on and mudsluggers CLIPPING HIS TOENAILS while we were  waiting. By the time Samantha, our “Service Tech”, got to us I’d completely forgotten where I was and ordered a Chicken Caesar Salad.

#goingonminute41 #isthereselfservice#whysocomplicated #noclipzone #isthisguyforeal

The Great and Invisible “Mr. Nobody”

paperclips

Day 8, Grade 7

Dear Tweens of Room 2 A,

See that 10- foot chain of paperclips that “Nobody ” fashioned, stretched across those 4 desk legs? Executed during undercover ops as I apparently blindly navigated your free learning playground?

Yeeeeaaaaa…if you could pass on this message to “Nobody” for me- UNCLIP each friggin’ paperclip and return to teacher desk…. or “Nobody” goes to lunch until the second bell rings.

 

Day 29, Grade 8

Dear Tweens of Room 2 A,

Uh oh, looks like Nobody was in the room again- except this time eating Takis Fuegos and stuffing his trash in desks. Along with Notme’s Sour Patch Kids and Jolly Ranchers scattered throughout the floor, be sure look where you step. #notyamaid pig-sty-5335332

 

Day 34, Grade 8

Dear Tweens of Room 2 A,

Those guys Nobody and Notme are super rude,-messing up your areas, defiling desks, snapping brand new pencils from Teacher’s desk with one deft maneuver. Hey! I guess you can place the blame on those two guys for no more full size pencils with actual erasers being handed out. golf

Yup, I know you are enamored of the golf pencils I procured from the English Department head. No, seriously, keep it. Nope, doesn’t look like I have an eraser, so just feel free to cross any mistakes out. It’s a small (!) gift from me to you so that you are always prepared. Seriously! Keep it! All you, Buddy.

 

Word by the back staircase is that Nobody made the decision to take ALL of the marker tops off (yea, all 79 of them!) and leave the markers out to dry, rendering them useless for creative classroom tasks. But, don’t worry,  Notme was thoughtful enough to crack most of those wonderfully waxy generic crayons in to teeny bits so everyone will have something to work with when the time does come.

br

Actual pile of crayons. 

Lucky you guys! 😉

Fondly, Ms. Wise

The Power of the Basketball

brown basketball on grey floor

Today I planned for the first time to take my students out to the basketball court to chill out for the last 20 minutes of class. They have been testing all week and were barely holding on to the wee bit of sanity they had left.  A colleague down the hall keeps this marvelous ball under his desk. I now know why.

I slid into the room with the ball.  The bell was due to buzz in 1 minutes. Three male students basically bum rush me as I enter:

Them: WHAT IS THAT?

Me: Uh. Jeez. I know it’s warm today, are your brains fried? Also, please move away from me, you are in my personal space.

Me: Girls, please grab your warm up and have a seat, and take that comb out of your hair.

The bell buzzes (sounds weird, but it’s a buzzer we refer to as the bell-old school, right?)

Them: WELL, WHY DO YOU HAVE THAT?!

Me: I’ll let you know once you have completed the warm up.

Them: Tell us now and we’ll do our warm up .

Me: Wow. This isn’t a democracy here people.

I walk slowly around the room. Which, is for once, silent. All eyes are on the orange sphere tucked under my right elbow, snug against my moist (another word middle schoolers hate) armpit. I realized what this sphere of influence could do under my realm. At last. Complete and total control…or promise of.

Sphere of Influence: a country or area (31 physically -not necessarily mentally- occupied desks)  in which another country ( ME! ) has power to affect developments although it has no formal authority (ME! Again! The last 2 weeks have proven how the level of respect for most “formal” authoritative figures within these hallowed walls has slid quite low by now, trust me) I need all the help I can get.

I slowly reveal our daily agenda for the day on the SMARTBOARD.

GOOD MORNING. YOU HAVE AN INCENTIVE THAT WILL REVOLVE AROUND EVERYONE APPROPRIATELY COMPLETING A WARM UP AND LESSON COMPREHENSION  TASK.

THIS IS A WHOLE CLASS REWARD-ALL OR NOTHING.

The questions and insinuations are already flying across rows. Shut up, Eliot! YOU know you’ll ruin it.

You shut the shuck up!

Me: Gee, sure does sound like that basketball court out there will be empty after all, I sigh heavily, regrettably.

Them: WWWHHHHHHHAAAAAAA? WE ARE ACTUALLY GOING OUTSIDE TO PLAY WITH THE BASKETBALL????

Wow.

FINISH YOUR WARM UP, PEOPLE.

 

 

 

Giving Thanks

Dear Friends of Room 12 B,

I’d like to give all of you a shout out for passing on such a wonderful gift this past week…the gift of the stomach virus.  How selfless of you to endow my family members with such an offering. I am astonished how considerate you and your family members have been regarding this wonderful perk of being a teacher and, well, just know that we all have you in mind as we violently heave into strategically placed pots and pans this upcoming weekend.

Cheers, you wretched children.

Mrs. Wise

 

goodbye