Tag Archives: students

Blessed are the Teachers

st-john-baptist-de-la-salle-2School is back in session. Teachers, unsung warriors that they are, have once again manned the battle lines to fight for the ongoing education of the next generation. Truly there is no level of sainthood great enough to crown the heads of these bold, brave souls who selflessly walk into the classrooms of darkness and shine a light. Let us pray.

Blessed be the elementary school teacher. Kindergarten teachers who fight the battles of noses that will ceaselessly run snot, shoes that refuse to stayed tied, and 5-year olds who are genetically coded to ask 43.2 million questions before noon of every single day. First- and Second-grade teachers with classrooms full of children refusing their lunches because they spent the morning eating crayons, boogers and Elmer’s glue. Third- and Fourth-grade teachers facing down the “indoor voice” that is perfect if indoors is a jet propulsion lab.

Blessed are the middle school teachers who have mastered the art of not laughing until the students can’t see them. Theirs is the world of “Stop that!” “Keep your hands where I can see them,” and “Bring the signed permission slip or you can’t watch THE video.” Not that THE video is going to teach anything that hasn’t already been learned on the bus.

Blessed be the junior high teachers. Theirs will be a consecrated, shiny, elevated place in Heaven for this is the special ops, SEAL team branch of teachers. Lord! Extra prayers for them!

And blessed be the high school teachers. They possess a special gifting to juggle the Ivy League auto-accepts and the unwed teenage mothers, the class president, the class clown, and the kid dealing drugs out of his third-period gym locker. They must face the AP, SAT, ACT, standardized, and the daily test of the parking lots at school.

Bless the teachers as they navigate helicopter parents, school shooters, and an education system that seems determined to break their spirits and their bank accounts. They have accepted a profession – no, a calling! – that is critical and pivotal. And not just because the nuclear waste dump wasn’t hiring. They do it for the love of the job or because they have a serious screw loose. Most likely both.

Say a prayer for them, then hug a teacher because if they didn’t do that job, who would? Me? I don’t think anyone wants that!

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Apology to My Appliances

washerDear Kenmore Elite Washer and Dryer, I am so sorry. I understand that there are limits to your capacity and capabilities to perform your set functions, but I can’t tell my college students not to come home with a half-semester’s worth of dirty laundry. Of course, you and I have developed a machine-human relationship built on respect and understanding that, obviously, in their naïve youthfulness, they don’t quite get. I try not to overload you and you try not to eat single socks. For us, it works. They, however, have strange ideas. Young people are like that.

First of all, I sort clothes. Whites, colors, jeans, towels, delicates – you get it. It’s like an adult Sesame Street® game where you match all the things that are alike. If nothing else, this is a great way to keep tighty-whities from being tighty-denim blues. So maybe college students don’t actually get that. To them, sorting is “wash” or “throw away.” One load. One love. And whereas I try to not overtax the machine, they believe if you can still force the door closed, you’re good to go. My dear Kenmores, I can only apologize.

To the French-door, freezer underneath refrigerator, I appreciate your efforts to work overtime. I do understand that it is more difficult to maintain a consistent temperature when the doors stand open for long periods of time. And yes, I realize, too, that there was a lot of food in there, but maybe there were just too many choices. Although, by the end of the relatively brief visit, you and the pantry looked like all battalions of the Syrian Army had just come through on a supply raid. I promise to reward your consistency and patience by restocking as soon as I liquidate my 401K.

You have to realize, my prized and well-loved appliances, that college students just aren’t like you. They have no easy-to-understand manual that lets you trouble-shoot problems as they arise. There is certainly no warranty or protection plan. There are no YouTube videos that explain step-by-step how to go back to the original factory settings. Trust me, I checked!

The good news for you – although not so much for me – is that the college students seem to only migrate through seasonally. I’ve already scheduled the technician for your tune-ups. And thank you for your service.

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Stories of My Starving Student

Peanut butterCollege. It’s the place where you pay big bucks to learn big things. My youngest son is currently close to finishing up his first semester at college and is learning some really big things. Like how not to starve to death. Last August, we settled him into his new dorm room with clean sheets, a manageable class schedule, and an ample meal plan. By Thanksgiving break, his checking account was dry, his gas tank empty, and he had $1.19 left on his meal plan until the end of the semester.  Desperation is the mother of invention.

He reports that he’s started hanging around with sorority girls and his scrawny friends. Obviously, these are people who are not utilizing their meal plans and are happy to let him mooch a lunch now and then. I’m hoping the parents of those kids are all socialists or at least voted Democrat in the last election.

It seems that since the days when my dad let me starve in college, they’ve upped the age that you can sell plasma. So that option is out for him, at least for another year. But, by then, I’m hoping he’ll have wrestled his budget to the ground.

He “rented” his car so an international student in his dorm could take his test for his US driver’s license. He convinced drunk fraternity boys that he was cheaper than Uber (he wasn’t). He found a $5 bill in the dryer. He’ll be fine.

Discovering a new, hunger-fueled resourcefulness, he used his last nickels to buy a four pound jar of discount peanut butter at the Dollar Store. He can’t afford bread, but, no worries, the plastic spoons at Chick-fil-A are free. Coffee creamer and ketchup packets are yours for the taking just about everywhere. And if he tags along with someone going out for Mexican food, there’s that big bowl of free chips. I hardly worry that he’ll waste away to nothing.

I know, though, that college is making him smarter because he hasn’t asked me for money. Eating crow and swallowing your pride just aren’t that filling. On a positive note, I bet he’ll never run out of money again. Of course, he may also never be able to face another box of no-name mac-n-cheese ever again either. So college really is making him a better, healthier, smarter person!

(The peanut butter is real. The story is real. Because I just can’t make this stuff up.)

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Mowing: #1 Parenting Mistake

IMG_0070As I have just recently graduated my last child out of public schools with no interaction with CPS, the court system, or Federal Law Enforcement Officials, I feel I have credibility to pass along advice to parents coming along behind me. While I believe that half the fun of parenting is discovering new and better ways to screw up your kids and ruin their lives, these are tips to keep them from screwing up yours.

Big Parenting Mistake #1: Teaching your children to mow the yard. Do this and you’re setting yourself up for disaster. After a couple of summers, you’ll be fat and lazy, sitting on the porch with an ice cold watching them work like rented mules. Next thing you know, they’ll graduate from high school and go to college, leaving your much older, fatter, lazier self alone to push the mower. Don’t think you’ll pay the neighbor kids to mow because you’re paying college tuition, so you can’t afford those things.

Do not let your children learn to drive. Driver’s training is Big Parenting Mistake #2. Sure, those first few times they run to the store for you on their own is great, but then they start realizing they have freedom. This is a dangerous thing in a child. Suddenly, it will occur to them that they can drive other places besides the store, like out of state. Then one day they get in the car, drive away and don’t come home to mow the yard. That’s going to hit you especially hard if you’ve already screwed up and made Mistake #1. Plus, they took your car.

Have you allowed your children to start becoming free-thinking, independent people? Wow. You’ve just made Big Parenting Mistake #3. This almost completely guarantees that your children are going to screw up your life. Count on them wanting to think for themselves, be independent and not stay home to mow your yard. Probably with your car.

Children with no skills, ambition or transportation are more likely to stick around and take care of you in your old age. They’ll gladly heat frozen pizzas, apply bunion cream and pluck the hairs out of your withered, old chin until you die. And with the money you save not paying college tuition or financing a new car, you can pay someone to mow your yard.

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