"I've got the runs."

Students tend to tell a lot of little white lies in order to get what they want out of school and out of their teacher. They want to do what they want to do, when they want to do it. And sometimes they think the best way to do what they want is to lie about the reason why they want what they want. Here is a list I’ve compiled of actual lies* students have told me. Some of them were told to other teachers and then shared with me. Seriously, these are things students actually said. I’m serious.
  • I left my textbook in my other class. (Meanwhile, said textbook is under the student’s desk)
  • I left my textbook in my other class. (said at a time when we weren’t even using the textbook.
For some reason not having everything you own, makes you incapable of doing any work whatsoever)
  • I left my pencil in my other class
  • I left everything I own in my other class, including my honesty
  • I need to go to my locker.
  • I need a drink
  • I need another drink
  • I’m hungry
  • Can I go to the bathroom?
  • I have to go take a picture of the clouds for my science class
  • I don't have any tissues
  • My hands are sticky
  • My friend needs me to bring them a pencil
  • I have to go practice my (musical instrument) during this period
  • I have to go practice my (sport) during this period
  • My mom is here
  • My sister/brother/cousin/brother’s wife’s aunt is here
  • Mr./Mrs. Other Teacher asked me to see them during this period
*I understand some of these may have been true at some point. Actually, probably not. Most of these can be remedied while staying in my classroom, because most of these are lies. What the student is really saying is “Dear lord, get me out of here, even if it’s only for a few minutes!”

But there was one time, when I believe the student may have been telling the truth. Which makes this story mortifying. At least, if he wasn’t telling the truth, he couldn’t come up with anything better, and that makes this story hilarious.

The student was one who often lied about nearly everything. He lied about why he was late. He lied about why he didn’t turn in assignments. He lied to other people about what happened in my class. I mean, all the time, he lied.

So this particular day, when he raised his hand to call me over, I was prepared for a lie.

“What, Eddie?”

He wagged at me with his finger and motioned for me to lean down close to him, as he clearly didn’t want others to hear what he was about to say.

“May I go to the bathroom again?”

He had already gone this period.


I don’t usually limit bathroom breaks.

“I’m sorry. I know I already went. I just…I…I’ve got the runs real bad.”

“Oh. Dear…uh, my, goodness. Um yes, please go then.” (read: What the ****?)

What possessed him to tell me that he had a fluid poop situation in his pants? Maybe he thought I wouldn’t believe that he had to go to the bathroom twice? Maybe he thought I wouldn’t let him go?

If he learned anything from forcing himself to tell his teacher that he was about to be sitting in a puddle of poop, it is to not establish a reputation of lying. I’m sure that’s what provoked him to tell me that.

He’d built up this whole reputation for lying about every little thing. Then when he really needed someone to believe him he crossed the line.

Or maybe the runs was the next best lie he could come up with. I guess that's between him and the toilet.

Smoothie Pants

This is a story I tell my students in order to encourage them and make them feel better about all of the terrible things that happen to you when you're a teenager. And all the terrible things that still happen to you when you're an adult, despite your efforts to prevent them.

And it goes like this.

Generally on a school morning, I zombie myself to the bathroom to get ready while Tyler hits snooze several times. Then as I dress by the light of my phone flashlight, Tyler zombies out of bed and goes upstairs to make my breakfast and lunch. I know what you're thinking--that is so sweet of him. And the worst of me, because how lazy am I that I can't make my own meals? The answer is v lazy. It is v sweet of him, but it's also because if he didn't I would legitimately waste away slowly and be shriveled into nothing by graduation.

Generally, lunch is one of three: oatmeal, PB&J, granola bar.
Breakfast is also one of three: toast, cereal, smoothie.

On this particular morning, Tyler made me PB&J for lunch and a smoothie for breakfast. He was especially tired so I sent him back to bed with a kiss and a spank.

I sat at the table drinking my smoothie. I suddenly remembered that I had forgotten to grab chapstick (it's a necessity and an addiction). I promptly stood up from the table and as I sidestepped out of the bench my pants caught the tablecloth and began to rip it from it's resting place on the table. I foresaw the disaster with my psychic-like abilities and froze in just enough time so that the smoothie glass didn't move.

"That was close, self," I told myself as I made a mental note not to do that again.

I came back from retrieving the chapstick and continued to enjoy my smoothie. As happens frequently in the morning time and throughout most of my day, I remembered something else I needed to take to work with me that day. I leapt from the bench and quickly sidestepped out of the table. I know what you're thinking, "NOOOOO, the TABLECLOTH! the SMOOOOOTHIE!"

I'm sorry to say that my mental notes often get written on a notepad in my brain titled 'Forgettable' and are promptly forgotten. So I think you know how the rest of this story is going to go.

It looked like a magic trick gone wrong. The one where the magician pulls the tablecloth out from under all the stuff with not so much as a wiggle from the items on said tablecloth and everyone at the table cheers and throws money and flowers at the magician. Yeah, it didn't exactly go like that.

Magic trick from David Ginn Magic-check out his YouTube channel!

And so where do you think the smoothie went? I'll put it in list form in order to speed this up a bit.
There were smoothie smatterings on all of the following in varying quantities:
  • table
  • tablecloth
  • bench
  • pants
  • shirt
  • inside of my shoes
  • floor
And in the process of trying to stop the catastrophe midair:
  • cabinets
  • countertop
  • various rugs
  • sink (which sounds like it would be a positive thing, but at this point it really wasn't)
I stood there, smoothie-clad and fuming and didn't know what to do first. So I laughed. I laughed at how stupid it was that I had mentally informed myself not to do something and then did that exact thing. I didn't have time to change so I wiped myself down and ran out the door. Smoothie pants and all. 

And you know what? The rest of the day was fine. Better than fine actually. I got to see hundreds of my students (a.k.a. best friends, their words, not mine) and they didn't care that I had smoothie pants. I got to teach, and be creative and come home to my wonderful husband who makes me meals. 

One day, despite all your efforts to make your life perfect, you will have smoothie pants. And you know what? It will be fine. It might not be fine in that moment or for a lot of moments after that, but eventually it will be okay. And no one will care that you made a mistake, or forgot something, or weren't perfect for a little while. It will be okay, and that's what really matters. And life is better lived believing that one day it will be okay. 

Student Sense

Maybe students have something of a sixth sense.

I had recently sent in my resignation and was feeling pretty sad about it. I love the students part of my job. Anything that has to do with them is what I enjoy. Mostly. Sometimes I hate that they ignore me, or don't turn in assignments, or don't come to cla--okay, that's enough. They are what makes my job worthwhile and enjoyable.

That is why I was feeling sad about leaving. I thought of all the students that I had cared about for so long and all the ones I would miss in the coming years by not being here teaching, and it made me sad.

Now, to their sixth sense. I think they can sense when I'm feeling sad, even from far away. Within a week of handing in my resignation the following went down:

One former student emailed me from across the world and reminded me that I did do something good last year and I had made a small difference in their life.

Another former senior randomly came to visit me after school one day. To say hi and catch up. Awwwww. My heart.

And then I ran into a few of my former seniors at the grocery store (mostly embarrassing) and we hugged and chatted about life recently and the haps.

And then two more seniors came to see me after school one day. At this point I stopped wondering and called Dateline to pitch my student-phenomena theory and the episode they could do on it. They did not return my call.

You see. They must know. They could sense that I didn't want to go and that I felt sad and they came to my rescue! Even though they didn't know they were rescuing me. They reminded me that I had been doing good things the last few years. It wasn't a waste and it was worth all the crap that came with it.

So to those of you who came to my sadness rescue in person and email and spirit, thank you. Thank you for reminding me that it was worth it. You made the last years worth it.