She comes in with a bag full of surprises. (But some of them give me a headache..)

I never know what she will bring with her to school each day, and I look forward to every bit of it with great anticipation and a tiny drop of dread.

She’s no bigger than a minute, incredibly gorgeous already and full of spit and vinegar.  Frankly (and no, I’m not talking about my dog) she reminds me a tad bit of the tiny version of myself. 

She, along with several other children, attend what we call “the number club” at the end of the day.  They go with the learning support teacher (for only a few minutes) and practice numbers and number sense in the hopes that we can bring them up to speed by the end of the year.

Today their departure was coinciding with our recess and Sasha was livid.  “Do NOT GO OUTSIDE!” she turned and yelled at us as they unhappily exited the room.

“I won’t!  We’ll wait for you!”  I assured her.

Then, as they walked down the hall we instructed the children to clean up and prepare for recess.  (Yeah, I know.)

They bundled up and went outside with the other classes, teachers and my pre-student teacher.  I stayed behind to furiously pack folders and clean the paper, glue, glitter, crayon and marker explosion that occurs daily.   I was wiping off a table when I heard a faint yelling coming from the hallway. I lifted my head to see Sasha come barreling into the room dragging the special teacher behind her. I had forgotten that their room had a bird's eye view of the playground.

“YOU LIED!    YOU LIED!” She yelled furiously.  “You said they would WAIT for ME! You lied!!”

“We just went out Sasha.” I tried to say calmly.  “We knew you were coming in two minutes, and we JUST went out.” 

But she was not be placated.   She turned to get her coat and yelled, AGAIN, “YOU LIED TO ME!” 

Then she looked at the special teacher, threw her hands in the air and yelled, “What kind of place IS THIS, anyway??” 

I laughed as she ran out, and then sat on the table and thought.  Well, it’s the kind of place where your teacher will say and do anything to help you learn. And she might not always make the right decisions.  But each and every one is made with love.

Lots and lots of love.

(Yeah, I’m bringing in treats tomorrow.  Sometimes, just sometimes,  the teacher needs to make amends…)


What's good for the goose is good for the (Oh hell, I had to spread the wealth...)

Bitchy has been begging me for months to buy her a ridiculously high-priced necklace.  I’ve chosen to ignore her.

Today I picked her up from her APARTMENT on campus, got her laundry, and dropped her at work before I  went home to pay bills.  (Which always cheers me up.)

An hour later she text messaged me,  “You know what would go great with my outfit today?”

“Yeah.” I replied, “A good attitude.”

Sha-BAM.  (Oh yeah, I’m back.  I’m back!)


Oh Sassy, I KNEW my little girl was in there somewhere...

Dear Sassy,

I want to thank you for the late night (screaming like a banshee) phone call you made to me last night.  For a minute there, I was beginning to wonder where my darling Sassy had GONE.

But then, when you threw a major hissy fit and called me a @)*&ing b!(@*@ and a !)!(!* and then said *&#$@&#^@, it reminded me of how it used to be.   Do you remember when we would call each other &#ing b#&#^*es before school each day?? And remember how you would call your brother a &@^ing (@&@(@@ before HE had to go to school?  

And remember when you and Bitchy would jump on each other, and pull each other's hair and called each OTHER @!(@*ing b@#(@???

Oh, and remember that Christmas Day when we you screamed at me and told me you hated me, and then I lost control and told you that I hated you, too?  REMEMBER?

Sigh.   Those were the days.  Thanks again for reminding me.....


And exactly WHO diagnoses that particular affliction? (They call me Dr. Frank.)

I was walking down the hall and passed Frank and his class, who were waiting outside the cafeteria for their teacher to arrive to take them back to class.  (I’m convinced she was hiding in the faculty bathrooms, but I can’t prove it.)

Frank grabbed my hand, and shouted, “Mrs. Smythe, Megan has sexia!”    
The roar from the cafeteria is usually enough to drown out any conversations that children from previous years attempt to have with me, but thanks to Frank’s booming voice, he came across loud and clear, kind of.

“What did you say?” I asked.

“You know Megan.  You always tried to tell her that she wasn’t in preschool but in big kid school!  She has sexia!  You know, sexia!”

Ethan, who was standing behind him looked at me and rolled his eyes.  “It’s not sexia.  It’s dyslexia.  Geesh.”

“That’s what I said.”  Frank muttered as he gave Ethan a little shove.

Damn I miss that kid.   (Pretty much.)


"Do you want to meet the love of your life? Look in the mirror."

I’ve wanted to share some of the details of my foray into the world of dating, and in particular those involving Clint.

But first, I want to share a brief story. (Humor me -  I'm fragile.) Although my parents weren’t in my life long enough to share their many words of wisdom, I certainly learned many, many things by their actions and their deeds.   And I do remember one important thing that my father did repeat to me many times over, and it was this. 

“If you don’t have anything nice to say about someone, then don’t say anything at all.”

And so, as I prepare to talk about Clint I want to say this:   I'm not going to say anything at all.

Now, someone answer the door.  I think the rest of the frogs are ready for their shot.   (Do I have anything in my teeth?)


The confirmation

Sasha came up to me on Friday before buses were called.  “Mrs. Smythe, can I ask you something? Who is Frankly?   Is he your dog?”

They DO listen.  They really DO listen to me.   

(But after 108 days of telling sharing about my dog and cat, she'd remember that his name is Junior.  Frankly. )


And this is why my weekends bore the #*$$ out of me...

It was particularly noisy during literacy centers Friday morning and I admonished my group, “Boys and girls, you need to start working. And please keep it down to a dull roar- or bad things will happen! And you know what I mean when I say that bad things will happen, right?"

“YEAH!” Jack shouted, “All HELL will break loose!”

Second teacher mistake of the day was, “What did you say?”

“All HELL break loose is what I said!” and he smiled his toothless smile.

“Um. That wasn’t exactly how I was going to say it…but…”

Lord Have Mercy.


Yes, Paul Harvey, it's the REST of the story.

We sat at the table in the faculty room, enjoying the PTO’s special valentine pasta luncheon when Mrs. Perwinkle spotted us, smiled and made a beeline for our table.

At the table were the kindergarten teachers, a couple of interns and now our incredible music teacher.

“So, Mrs. Periwinkle, I have a story for you,” I said.  “Today when I brought the kids back from music, Ariana was swinging something above her head and dancing down the hall.  She said, ‘Can I put my underwear in my backpack?’   We were all standing there, and it was hysterical. Now, come on, tell us what happened!!”

“Oh my God.”  She said, laughing.  “Here it is, here it is. The kids were singing on the carpet, and all of the sudden Ariana went, ‘OOOPS!’  She looked at me and said with a smile, ‘I think I just peed!’ So I told her to zip out to the nurse.  Then, Jack pointed to the wet spot and made a dramatic gagging sound and I told him- and all of the children- to move far, far away from the spot and leave it alone. 

Then Gregg crawled right over, scratched the spot with his fingers and sniffed it.”

At this point, we were all laughing uncontrollably, which is a daily occurrence during our particular lunch period.  She continued, “But it doesn’t end THERE.   Ariana came BACK into the room, skipping and smiling, and with a suspicious bulge in her pocket.   She continued to play with this suspicious bulge for the rest of music. She was moving it back and forth across her pants. 

And now I know what the bulge was.  And that she was swinging it to and fro all the way down the hall.”

For those of you who trade stocks and bonds, who fire people, who go in front of judges or sell cars or build houses, I must say I’m sorry.   Some of us are fortunate enough to spend our days watching the true miracles of life:  Kids who run down the halls swinging their underwear and singing a song.


That's not something you normally swing through the air. (Well, not in my world.)

The children came back from their special this morning, skipping and singing down the hallway.  I noticed that Ariana was swinging something that appeared to be a hankie around her head with incredible enthusiasm.

As they got closer to me she smiled and yelled above the roar, “Can I put my underwear in my backpack?”

Speechless, I nodded a quick, “Yes, yes, yes!”  and turned to Ms. Perky.

“Exactly what does Mrs. Periwinkle DO in music?” she said with a laugh.

“I’m invoking the don’t ask, don’t tell rule.  It’s much more appropriate in kindergarten than the armed forces, don’t you think?”

And I turned and skipped into the classroom with the rest of the class. (There are some stories that are worth waiting for.) 


Why do I ask the question when I always know the answer????

Today during morning meeting I passed out number cards for the greeting.  I might say words that rhyme with that number, or equations that equal that number and then the two people who have matching numbers pop up and greet each other in the center of the circle.

I was at the end of passing out the cards, and handed Jack the only one left- the zero. 

He looked at the card.  “Dammit,” he said instantly.

I turned and said, “What did you say?”

Alenka, who was sitting beside him, said quickly, “He say DAMMIT!”

Great, I thought.  The child from Poland now knows the words hyman AND dammit.

I can stop teaching right now, cause my work is done.


That damn reaper: Why does he always have to count to three?

I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time mourning lately.  And I don’t like it.

This weekend I wrap my children in love and comfort as they say goodbye to their last grandparent.  And since you all know that I’ve been an orphan for far too long, you can deduce whose mother has taken the hand of her husband and followed him Home.  And while I'm not officially a member of that particular family, my heart is broken none-the-less.

It’s amazing how grief can minimize the problems of your small world.  How it can encourage the outreaching of hands and hearts, and how it reminds everyone that all of our days here are numbered.  Wasting any of them on petty and painful emotion is simply not to be borne.

And so we bid farewell to a woman who used to cut my children’s hair when she thought it was too long.  The woman who would remind me when she thought I needed to lose a few pounds, and who would clean and re-arrange my house when visiting us when I was at work.   I say goodbye to the woman who liked to remind me about how to discipline my children, and what lessons I might be forgetting to teach them.  She also reminded us by her actions, that there were so many ways to show love and devotion- and that they didn’t always require words.

But what I think about today is that we bid good-bye to the only grandmother my children have ever known.  She was a mother to me for as many years as my own, and they each loved a completely different version of me.  And while it’s true that they were polar opposites, I learned just as many lessons from her than I did from my own.

And while we are all left here to pick up the pieces and mend broken hearts, she is soaring in heaven all the while holding the hand of the man she loved for over 60 years.  

Not too shabby, J.  Not too shabby.


A day without Ms. Perky is a day without sunshine. (And I'm not kidding.)

I know you all remember that adorable kindergarten teacher who works in the room next to mine, Ms. Perky.  (I can see you nodding your heads.  But if you're new here,  you can meet her here and here.)

Yesterday we were immersed in amazing, incredible 100 day centers throughout the morning.  Ms. Perky was working with a group of children who were decorating their special 100 day sunglasses.

According to Ms. Perky, "I handed them sequins, feathers and gems to totally be-dazzle their glasses.  I told them to knock my socks off!  But Alyn kept his simple.  I offered him more and more outrageous feathers and encouraged him to go crazy."

"Nah," he said as he declined.  "I'm not a fancy man.  I just like to get dirty."

It's hard to argue with a man who knows who he is.


A, E, Y, O, U. It makes ALL the difference in the world.

During recess today the girls were playing another rousing game of Pretty, Pretty, Princess Ponies.  (Last week I discovered I could easily win this game only if the children wore snow boots, I had a two-minute head start and if I insisted the game last three minutes. They don’t call me teacher for nothing.)

Today two of the participants (English as a Second Language children) ran past me in the middle of the game.   “Oh! Is this Pretty, Pretty, Princess Puppies??? Are you puppies?” I shouted.

Alenka turned and ran back to me. “No!! No, Mrs. Smythe….Abia is a puppy, I am a HYMAN!”

“A WHAT?” I said.

“A HYMAN.  No, a HOOMAN!”  she shouted again.

“Alenka, I think you mean human.  Are you a HUMAN?”

“Oh, yes.   I am a human!” she said as she turned to run away.

Oh sweet Lord in heaven, where has she been hiding all year?  


Do NOT talk about cupid's diaper- you'll lose them ENTIRELY...

When I was in kindergarten a little boy in my class brought me flowers for Valentines Day.  Unfortunately I was a bit shy back then and I refused them.  A bit later that day I was called into the principal’s office (The first of MANY visits.) and was asked very nicely by the principal why I wouldn’t accept her son’s flowers.  I immediately started crying hysterically (Oh my gosh I still do that when I go the principal’s office- now I know why!) until she finally ushered me back to class.  I have given and received many a Valentine’s Day gift since then.  In fact, the truth of the matter is, I remember more Valentine’s Day gifts than I do birthday gifts. 

I also vividly remember the first boy I ever loved, do you?   His name was Robbie Drisholl.  He was in my third grade class, and just the cutest boy you’d ever, ever seen.  I loved him, I really did!  There was only one problem - my sister, who was in my class, loved him too.   Kathy had long, brown hair that went to her waist, pretty blue eyes, and won our in-class “Simon Says” dance contest.  (The Archies song, remember?)  Unfortunately the dance contest was held on the same day I snuck to school wearing my mother’s garter belts and nylons that kept falling around my ankles.  It was not a pretty sight and needless to say I had no chance with Robbie Drisholl, or making the Simon Says dance team.  My heart was broken on Valentines Day, and I didn’t have the principal to help me out. 

In each chapter of your life this particular day means many different things.  When you are very young it is about giving valentines to your classmates, and how many valentines you receive in turn.  It’s about decorating the Valentine’s Day bag, box or envelope.  We’re immersed in glitter, glue, foil paper and doilies! (The bigger, the sparklier, the better!!!)  The Valentine’s Day party in elementary school is the biggest and most anticipated party of the year.  It’s even bigger than Halloween, believe it or not.  At this age everyone receives a valentine, everyone!  If only that would continue into middle school and high school- far few people would be in therapy, I’m sure.  

When we began our discussion about Valentine’s Day this year, most of the kids decided that Valentine’s Day was about buying stuff for people.   According to Keegan, our resident “Little Professor”, if you really, really, really love someone, you buy that person a card AND some candy. Most of the kids agreed that you buy people cards on Valentines Day.   Our discussion then took many twists and turns, as by now you all know.  We talked about love, candy, doll babies, Egypt (I don’t even know how that came up.), slavery, puppies, Carissa’s sister Heather’s turtles, and someone’s transformer.  There was a brief, somewhat hysterical discussion about the “love man” who the kids told me was pink, had an arrow “fing”, made people love each other, and wore a diaper.  After I regained some control over the discussion (which is never easy) I decided to poll some other classes about what love means. I simply couldn’t hold the attention of these five-year old munchkins who wanted nothing to do with love, but desperately wanted to talk about transformers.  Here are the sweet results. 

Love looks like pink letters and doily’s; love looks like sweet things; love looks weird; love looks like a heart; love looks like Sam Jones; love looks like cupid.

Love feels warm in your heart; love feels like my blanket; love feels like cupid hit you; love feels like a hug; and love feels like hot chocolate.

Love smells like vanilla; love smells like chocolate; love smells like flowers; love smells like roses; and love smells like boys and gentlemen.  

Now that I am fify-something, I often look back and think about love, and the many times love has come along in my life.   The most surprising love of all is the love you feel the moment you lay eyes on your precious child.  It is a feeling that is so very hard to describe.  (Those of you fortunate enough to have children out there know what I am talking about.)  This love grows and grows until you think that your heart will probably burst.  (I will say, however, that during the years of 14 – 19, this love camouflages itself with another emotion entirely.) 

When all is said and done, it really is all about love.  As the years go by we come to know these truths:  Love breaks our hearts, love lifts us up, love fills us, love heals us, and love saves us.  And, of course, we all know it’s true – and didn’t the Beatles say it so well - all you need is love.


The (not-so) celebrity sighting. (And I left my mustache at home…)

I’ve been on a mission to reclaim myself.  It hasn’t been easy, but the fact that someone who, perhaps, I haven't met yet might see me in my….um...bathing suit has motivated me beyond belief. (Fear and mortification – we all know its power.)

First, I want to thank the super-duper stomach flu that visited my house on not one but four separate occasions over the holidays- blessing me personally twice.  That eight-pound weight loss was a gift I can never repay, and I could not let it go to waste.  

To that end, I take my crazy dog on a daily walk up the steep, rocky mountain behind my house.  Besides being scared to death by several questionable strangers and falling into the creek once or twice, the hike has brought me a sense of peace and contentment. (It has also brought what used to be my best asset back into view.)

I have also made sure I visit the gym each day. It’s a stone’s throw from my school, so I can find no good excuse to avoid it.  (Believe me, I've tried.)   I lift the weights, ride the bike, and do at least a million crunches before I head home.  

I arrive at the gym around 3:45, which is apparently right before a very popular Body-Pump class that must be attended by anyone who belongs to the gym and has a pulse.   

For the last ten years, I have always changed my clothes in the bathroom located inside the locker room.  Ladies, I’m sure many of you can identify with that.  Well, last week, after finally losing that last 15 pounds, I made a decision.

I changed in the locker room...in front of people.  (Lots and lots of people.)

Fortunately I was wearing matching (and pretty cute) undergarments, and tried to believe that I looked as good as I felt.  "It's crowded," I thought to myself, "no one will notice me here in the corner."  And, as I was stood in my almost nakedness, I heard it.   I heard it as I’ve heard it a million times in grocery stores, the coffee shop, my ob-gyn's office, Wal-mart, target and the liquor store.

“Excuse me, but are you the teacher who writes for the paper? I love your column!!” The woman asked politely. 


And then, a thousand heads turned to look towards me; in my nakedness


Now each Sunday as the members of the 4:00 Body Pump class read my column, they’ll be picturing me (mostly) naked.

That’s how I roll, people.  That’s how I roll.

And now, a word from the man of the hour...(I may have to stalk him)

And THIS is what had me laughing until I cried.    Please, please watch this all the way through. Trust me, you'll thank me....


Wait, are you related to a boy named Frank? Cause when you open your mouth, his voice comes out.

We enjoyed a visit this morning from an enthusiastic Game Commission officer.  He fascinated the children with his tales from the woods and all the various animal pelts that lined the tables.

As he discussed herbivores and omnivores, Jack raised his hand enthusiastically.

“I know, that’s a manivore!   He sneaks at night…”

Oh sweet Jesus, that boy is money.  Pure, gorgeous money.


Will all frogs please line up on the right. (Let's be orderly about this.)

I’ve been to hell and back on more than one occasion.  I’ve felt the warmth of the devil's fingers as he reached out his hand to stroke my face.

In fact, I’ve been there enough times that I’ve discovered several different escape routes- none of which allowed me to flee unscathed. I’ve managed to turn, and run as fast as I can toward the sun all the while trying not to  look back. And while I’ve managed to make it out with my heart somewhat intact, my journeys from the home of darkness and despair have not been easy.  My blood and tears have lined the trails I’ve crawled upon, and the scrapes and bruises aren’t noticeable with the human eye.  But they’re here.  They will always be here.

I’ve come to learn through all of this that there are not many things I fear.  (Well, maybe roller coasters, anything to do with my children and the chance that we might one day run out of vodka, but other than that I’d say I’m pretty fearless.)

Save for one thing.

I’m afraid that maybe, just maybe, I might never find my true love.   And that notion is something that truly scares me to death.

But I know in this heart of mine, this broken, battle-tested, glorious heart, that if I’m not willing to take a chance then I have fought all these battles for naught.

And to not try- to not believe in true love, would be the most horrible defeat of all.