A relatively short post today, so I thought I'd supplement it with a freebie chapter from Learn Me Gooder (available now!). Thankfully, I haven't had anyone this year that doesn't seem to know their own name, but I certainly did once...
Date: Monday, September 14, 2009
To: Fred Bommerson
From: Jack Woodson
Subject: Identity Crisis
That’s right, I called Priya a time sink. Heat sinks, which we are intimately familiar with, draw away heat from a source. Time sinks, like certain children I know, draw away valuable min-utes from a lesson, dispersing them to the four winds, never to be reclaimed again. My time sinks are highly efficient, too!
Once again, it’s Monday, and as some people my parents’ age once sang – Monday, Monday, can’t trust that day. As opposed to Friday, which I would trust with my life, my banking password, and my vintage Star Wars action figure collection.
Still, the Mondays of this year, as well as most every day, have been made brighter by a certain ray of sunshine in my class. Her name is Katie, and she always seems to have a smile on her face. There have been several mornings when I have been ticked off well before 8:15 am – kids not having their homework, kids somehow needing to trade pencils ten times in ten minutes, kids insisting a triangle has four sides – and when I’ve walked around the room like a sourpuss. On these occasions, Katie always has a way of looking up from her morning work, catching my eye, flashing her brilliant smile, and then going right back to work.
After that, there’s just no way I can remain angry. At least not until Lakeisha opens her mouth again.
If Katie is the ray of sunshine, then the new kid I got today is the flashlight beam through murky water.
Ever since school started, I’ve been hearing about this new kid that I was supposed to get named Kevin. He’s a special ed kid, so Ms. Hamm and Miss Knox have been coordinating things and heralding his arrival.
First, it was, “Kev will be here on Thursday.” Then, “Kevin will be here next Tuesday.” Finally, “We’re really not sure why Kev isn’t here yet.”
At long last, Kevin showed up today. I saw the new kid in my line this morning, and I greeted him warmly with the name I had heard most often. “Hi! You must be Kev!”
DaQuayvius immediately corrected me – “It’s Kevin!”
I sometimes think DaQuayvius must have thirty fingers, because he seems to have a finger in everyone’s business. I have no doubt he knows Kevin’s entire life story after spending a mere twenty minutes with him in the gym.
I gave DaQuayvius a quick stink eye then asked the new boy, “What do you prefer to be called, Kevin or Kev?”
He mulled it over then answered, “Well, sometimes people call me Kevin, and some people call me Kev. But my real name is Anferny. My mom just likes how Kevin sounds.”
Not once had I heard the name “Anferny” mentioned in any discussions about this kid, so I had my suspicions. I asked him, “So what should I call you – Kevin or Kev?”
He replied, “Anferny.”
OK, we have a winner. For the next thirty minutes, I called him Anferny. “Anferny, do you have a pencil?” “Anferny, come and get a math journal.” “Did you learn how many cents are in a dollar at your old school, Anferny?”
At about half past eight, Miss Knox dropped by to see how the new kid was doing. When I told her about the name change, her mouth dropped, and she took “Anferny” out into the hallway to speak with him. A couple of minutes later, they came back into my classroom, and the little boy said to me with a sheepish grin, “You can call me Kev now.”
If this happens again tomorrow, I’m going to make an executive decision and start calling him Doofenshmirtz.
After helping “Kev” with his identity crisis this morning, it seemed a little anti-climactic that our after school staff meeting would be all about the Campus Crisis Plan. Back in mid-August, we were each given a document roughly the size of the Greater Chicago Area phone directory and told to memorize it. This document was the Crisis Plan, and in brief, it tells us what to do in the case that a crazed gunman or bomb-toting maniac wanders into our school. Basically, we lock the doors, pull the blinds, and cower beneath our desks. Oh, and we are also supposed to slide a special green laminated card under our door into the hallway, telling everyone that we are A-OK.
Not surprisingly, many of us were wondering just who was going to see that sign, if we were all locked in our rooms. Are we putting out the sign for the benefit of the maniac stalking the halls? If so, should it really be the green sign, or the red “All is NOT OK” card? Or do we slide out the green one, and then once the maniac starts trying to break down our door, slide out the red one – real subtle-like?
In order to test our new knowledge, we played a mock version of Jeopardy. Hopefully, I am not the only one who saw the irony in this.
Not that it’s a bad idea to have a crisis plan on hand. It might have been nice to have one at HPU that time the guy crashed his cocaine-laden SUV into the corner of our offices and then ran off into the sand pit next door. Though it was exciting for all of us to stand around on the delivery dock in back watching the police search the area with dogs and helicopters, I think that if there had been a crisis plan in place, you never would have dared me to rip my shirt off and run wildly across the parking lot. Of course, if I had taken your dare, I doubt I would be here writing you this email right now.
I might instead be trying to convince some scary person that my name really is Anferny as I subtly slide a red laminated card under the door.
See ya later,