Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Manic weather...manic kids...

The last few weeks have been interesting.  One day we had warm weather (approx. 60 degrees F), then the next day snow with cold weather (approx. 40 degrees as the high!).  I just never knew whether or not to bring my heavy coat and scarf, or a light jacket and sandals.  

And, as you have probably guessed by now, many of the kids were not properly dressed most of the time.  But that didn't deter them one bit.

On one particularly windy day, a group of first graders made a fort with umbrellas (see pic).  Several others joined them, so there were about a dozen kids taking shelter from the wind and rain.  Pretty smart, if you ask me.

One day, rain was lightly falling, as was the temperature.  I had a light coat on at first, then by the time the last group of students came out for recess, snow started falling.  Yet the kids kept themselves warm by running around, playing basketball, football, etc.  One group of sixth graders used a unique method to keep warm.  They proceeded to twirl around in a frenzy and make themselves dizzy.  Then, naturally, when they stopped, they walked around in a stupor and/or fell down while laughing with delight.  They kept doing this for at least ten minutes.  The dizzier they got, the colder the weather got.  You could see their breath, but when I asked if they were cold (none of them wore coats), they enthusiastically answered no.  At least they kept me entertained.

When the wind is really ripping through the air, I receive another entertaining phenomena.  Watching the wind blow the students' balls all over the playground.  They casually kick the ball to another student as a gust of wind picks it up and blows it farther and faster than any of the children can retrieve it.  However, this is not always entertaining, because it is often my duty to retrieve the balls when they've rolled into the parking lot. 

Then there are three fourth grade girls that have taken over the task previously executed by the sixth grade "Tweedle" boys. But these girls have raised the bar in annoying me to another level.  Fourth grade girls are much louder than sixth grade boys. The other day they kept yelling, "the werewolf is coming" and running around me like lunatics.  When I asked them to bug the other duty, they said I'm the only one who is nice enough to not get mad.  Really??!!  What do you call raising my voice and telling you to go away or I'll call the Principal?!!  I just tell myself that we only have a few more weeks until school is over.

As I've said before, Westland kids are tough and hearty.  But, that being said, we've had our share of sick kids (and teachers).  One day we had over a dozen or so kids go home due to one ailment or another.  And we had quite a few substitute teachers in the classes this winter. All normal, right?  Well, not for our main office secretary, Mrs. Digger!  She just had several small strokes.  Yet, she was still at school working until someone told her to go home and rest (a word not in her vocabulary!).  Luckily, she got the medical attention she needed.  She was told to take several weeks off from work. So, what was she doing, several days later, coming in to the office to check on things??? She did this twice!  Our school is SO awesome, she just couldn't stay away. (Sorry, not worth another stroke.)

The crazy weather is making everybody crazy!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A blustery day at Westland!

The wind was really howling at recess today! Made the air quite least to the other duty and myself. Just about all the kids didn't have their jacket on today. And, there were over two dozen kids (boys and girls) with shorts on! Ah, youth.

The playground was alive with activity. Swinging, running, kickball, soccer, tether ball, sliding, four-square, basketball, football and general mayhem. And what was I doing? Chasing balls that rolled into the parking lot. Even though I instructed the kids to keep far from the cars, the wind blew several of the balls right towards them. Should I ask for hazard pay??

There were several third and fourth grade girls really enjoying the windy weather. They would throw their jackets up in the air and let the wind toss them several yards away. Hey, who needs a kite when you have a jacket, right?! Over and over again, these girls would throw up their jackets and run to catch them. They were having a ball...until some boys came along and tried to steal or tromp all over them.

Another group of girls had a similar idea. They stood in front of the baseball fence and threw up their jackets. The wind would blow them onto the fence and they would stick there until the wind died down enough for the jacket to fall to the ground. Several of the jackets stayed up for quite a long time. It was rather amusing, I must say.

Ya gotta love the imagination of children! I know I do.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

These Westland kids are hearty little boogers!!

The last few days have been quite cold, say around freezing (30's). We have also had some snow, wind and gloomy weather.

You'd think everyone would be bundled up trying to stay warm. Nope, not at Westland Elementary! More than half the students still come outside without a coat. Even after teachers tell them to put one on! The usual answer I get when I ask why they have no coat is "Well, I'm running around and I get hot!" Ya, ok. I understand, but is your internal temperature set to "summer weather"?

Today I counted at least seven kids who wore shorts. Shorts?!! Do parents not see their kids before they go to school? In the winter?!

Well, I think it's starting to catch up with some students. Today alone, we had over ten kids go home with some sort of illness! There were several more that just didn't come in due to an ailment. It is the cold and flu season, so let's take some precautions, please!

Ok, that being said, the kids were having a ball outside. Even during a snow storm, the kids were playing soccer, football, basketball, baseball, jump rope, etc. The cold weather and snow did not deter them at all. AND, even in the snow, some of the kids had shorts on and took off coats! Again, I asked them to put coats back on, but after they told me to feel their foreheads, which were indeed sweaty, I let it go.

I must admit, I really enjoyed watching just about everyone catching snowflakes on their tongues. No matter what age, it seems everyone appreciates this little joy in life.

Yup, these kids are tough. And they have to be. The schools here don't shut down when weather is "bad." Even growing up in this town, I only remember a few days when the snow was about three feet deep and the school closed for one day so the plows could clear the roads. So, kids who live here learn that you play outside no matter what the weather.

When kids move here from warmer climates like California or Arizona, they usually have a rude awakening when winter comes. My sister, who lives in the Northwest, often calls me to let me know that they've closed the schools due to a half inch of snow. Now, granted, they don't have nearly enough snowplows and many people are afraid to drive when snow hits the road, but come on!!!

Oh well. That's what you get when you live near a big lake and mountains. Hearty kids make for hearty people, right?!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Oh boy...I mean, Oh girls!

The last few days seemed to have been all about girls. Even in first grade, these young girls can get quite catty and malipulative.
One of my favorite girls, Mary, has had a considerable amount of trouble lately. Recently, I have discovered that some of the other girls in her class have been pushing her buttons purposely to get her in trouble. And succeeding, I might add. What happens is that Mary will be playing with a girl, or group of girls, and they will get a little rough (grabbing at each other, hugging too hard, etc. You know, having fun!). Annie or Nancy, the forementioned girls from Mary's class, will see this going on and start to tell Mary to stop (even though she may not be the one causing the most turmoil). Mary will get upset and tell them she's not doing anything wrong. Well, Nancy just starts pushing the issue and starts to grab Mary's arm. Well, Mary grabs Nancy's hair and pulls. Nancy comes over to me right away and proceeds to tell me what Mary has done and how mean she's being. So, I start looking for Mary. She is nowhere to be seen. Then after a minute, I see her little head pop around the corner of the building. She sees me looking at her and charges! I cry out after her, "Mary, Mary, please don't run away. I saw the whole thing and I know it's not all your fault! I just want to talk." This slows her down a bit. I smile at her and she stops. Then the waterworks start. Nancy told me that Mary bit her as well as pull her hair. Mary told me Nancy was pulling hard on her arm. Come to find out, Mary did NOT bite her but did pull her hair and Nancy did pull Mary's arm. Ok, I tell the girls we need to see their teacher and figure out what the consequences are. Nancy starts walking to the building door. Mary, however, starts to back away and cry, "No, no! I'll get into bigger trouble. My mom and dad will be SO mad at me. I'm going to be in big trouble!" I take her arm, tell her I would be with her and speak to the teacher on her behalf. She continues to pull away from me and shake. I keep talking to her about how it's not all her fault and we just want to help her. I'm basically dragging her to her class (not letting go, as she ran away from me two times before ). We get to her teacher, Mrs. Raleigh, and she indicates that the three of us need to go to the Principal's office to discuss. Mary glues herself to the front entrance of the classroom screaming, "NO, NO!!!" I walkie-talkie the front office for "back up." But finally Mary concedes to go (after gentle coaxing). Nancy is more than happy to tell her side of the story, but, thankfully, the principal is on to her. He lets her know that he is aware of Nancy and Annie's tendencies to get Mary in trouble. He made it very clear that they need to speak truthfully and keep out of other people's business! "Just stay away from each other!" he adds. He then excuses Nancy and myself, so he can talk to Mary alone - yet again this week.
Truthfully, my heart goes out to Mary. Her parents are divorced and she's an only child. One parent is passive and rarely disciplines, as the other parent is somewhat of a dictator. The perfect storm for messing with a kid's brain! So, then it's up to the staff at Westland to try and help this kid cope with her life?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Trouble with balls...

Ok now. I mean the kind that kids use for kick ball, dodge ball, etc. Anyway...

The kids have had to stay on the paved playing areas due to the fact that the grassy hills still have dirty snow and ice on them. (It's also very wet and muddy.) Due to this fact, many of the students have been bringing balls to recess to play kickball, soccer and four-square.

These are all very fun, when played in a fair team spirit.

I recently observed a group of third graders playing a game of kickball. The first couple of minutes went fine. Until someone didn't touch a base as they ran around the field after kicking the ball. All hell broke loose. There was much screaming, finger-pointing, and jumping up and down. (To be truthful, most of the kids didn't touch all the bases as they passed them! Only those who were really paying attention caught any offenses, and then everyone got into the accusatory bellowing.) The defendant would plead his case that he did, in fact, touch the base (or at least got close enough). A debate would ensue for about 15 seconds, then the poor offender would concede and step to the back of the line. The game would continue and everyone would act like nothing happened. All is well again. The next thing that happens is someone kicks the ball a bit to high and far. The ball smacks two girls in the face (not sure how this really happened) and they are both crying and holding their cheeks. I send them to the bathroom to put a cool cloth on their faces. I then instruct the kickball hoodlums that they need to kick the ball softer and lower. Yeah, like that's gonna happen... An innocent third-grade boy steps up to the plate. The ball rolls quickly towards him, and "wham!" the ball goes flying up, up, up right towards a group of unsuspecting kids. Okay, they are done with kickball. The usual exclamations of "that's not fair," "you're so mean," "why? what did we do?" ensue. One little guy was exceptionally ticked off and loudly (and rudely) told me how unhappy he was. Well, that kind of talk is not allowed in Westland's environment, so off to the principal's office he went. (We spoke after recess and he promised not to do that again.) I encouraged the kids to play four-square. Much better. No kicking of the ball and they are contained by the four boxes on the ground. But, you know kids, arguments still came up. The ball hit one boy's foot (which is considered and "out") and all the kids started the usual yelling of "you're out!" He really tried to talk them out of this one. He tried reasoning, which does no good, then he just threw a fit and ran off. The game went on again like nothing happened. Some of the other kids experienced similar events, but those who are more hard-headed and not easily offended took the complaining just fine.

As much as I try to help these kids learn about compassion and fair play, I'm afraid the world teaches other values. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for assertiveness and a winning attitude, but, I believe there are other, more import traits that need to be taught more often, especially in the home! Would it kill some people to humble out and be kind to a stranger once in a while?!

Alright, I'm done with my soap box. But I am truly concerned with some of these kids and their future. If they aren't playing nice now, in elementary school, what are they going to be like as adults? This is such a crucial time in their lives (and our lives, as parents), we can't take it for granted.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Another sunny day.

Well, today was another beautiful, sunny, but chilly day. The high was @44 degrees and most of the kids had their coats off again. The sun was warm but when the wind blows, it's cold! "Sigh." These kids are building up some great resistence to the cold!
Today was a pretty good day. Nothing too major to report, so I would like to write about a few of my favorite characters.
There are several kids who take dance lessons. One of them is a boy in the fifth grade. He's a really cute kid. He definitely has a "dancer" flare about him. He's skinny, wears a jacket with a dance company logo and he's always doing some sort of cool dance move. I often see him and a girl or two practicing some choreography. I love watching them. They are really quite good. I asked him one day if he was in a dance company and he said "sometimes". I assume it's because he's still too young to be a professional dancer. (But not for long!)
Another favorite is "Carrie." She's quiet but athletic. I often see her hitting a tennis ball against the wall by herself. (Then she loses the ball in a big bush and I help her find it.) Lately, she's been playing basketball with some boys - and showing them a thing or two! She's very sweet and we chat every once in a while. She quite mature when she speaks. Her folks are divorced and she has a younger sister. I think she had to grow up quickly due to her situation. It's a sad, but common occurence.
Mary and Annie were at odds during lunch. Annie came up to me and said Mary shoved someone out of the way at the lunch table. I asked Mary about this and she said she was there first. I asked a few of the other girls if this was true and if she shoved anyone. They all said she was there first but she didn't shove anyone. Hmmmmm...ok, did Annie just imagine this or did she just want to get Mary in trouble?? I think the later! I confronted her about this and she just clammed up and ate her lunch. Ok, that was easy...
I think the kids and I are getting used to each other now (most days).

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

It's always noisiest before the storm!

Wow, was today noisy! The kids were screaming, running like wild animals, pushing each other, hitting, and even one girl bit the arm of another girl pretty hard (she was a wild kitty!).

I've noticed a pattern. Every time a big storm is about to roll in, this strange phenomenon takes place. Something in the atmosphere changes and, I believe, this makes the air thinner. When the air gets thinner, the brain doesn't get enough oxygen. When the brain doesn't get enough oxygen, the mind goes goofy. When the mind goes goofy, recess gets loud!

It was rather chilly today (around 40 degrees F). I was cold. But I was amazed at how many of the kids went outside without a coat! (Including one of my own boys!) And there where about five kids wearing SHORTS!!! What are their parents thinking?! Do they invest in pharmaceutical companies and want to secure their investments by propagating the need for cold/flu meds??? Now, kids run around and I know they build up lots of heat doing this, but come on! When I touch their arms, they are cold!! You wonder why kids catch diseases at school? Their resistance is down because their body is trying to keep them warm during recess and not fighting off germs! Their poor white blood cells are working overtime!

Teachers and recess duties try their best to get your kids to remember their coats during recess, but it's like telling the Tasmanian Devil to slow down! Which brings me to the reminder of checking the "lost and found" at your school for items your child might have forgotten. And trust me, there are probably things in there you didn't even know they brought to school! Westland's "lost and found" is looking more like a thrift store everyday!