The first student to arrive was cussing when she entered. Students two and three argued heatedly all morning, while students four, five, and six fought over breakfast, even though it was plentiful and all the same. Student seven came in crying, and student eight (who came in wearing fuzzy zebra slippers) sat down just off the school bus and refused to enter the building.
So of course, it was IEP day -- a major meeting, mid-morning. Promising a reluctant student she could paint with me when the 11: 15 bell rang, I ran to the office for my meeting. Upon returning -- at 11:17 -- she was waiting and grabbed me as I came through the door. We started painting together, but that was when another student started crying and cussing on the other side of the room.
Of course by this time, one of my two classroom assistants had left for a doctor's appointment, and they had been unable to find a sub. There was no one to leave for supervision, so I leveled a gaze at my little painter and said, "Paint goes on paper. Not on you. Promise?"
She nodded and gave me a big thumbs-up and a winning smile, so I crossed the room to help a student deal with a tragic loss at UNO which, apparently, was grounds for heartbreak. Ten minutes later, the UNO loser was still in tears and pounding the table, refusing to wash his hands or to budge from the table for lunch. Meanwhile, my artist was purple to the elbow and grinning guiltily. I confiscated paints, dunked her hands in the sink, and scrubbed her, while calling over my shoulder to my remaining assistant that if she would stay with the UNO-er, I would take the others to lunch and send back-up.
Balancing three styrofoam trays at a time, I managed to get most of the kids settled, and, as promised, I sent a member of the administration as back-up to help with UNO-kid, one of my few kids verbal and aware enough to benefit from administration back-up. Soon after, my assistant and my heartbroken student arrived. I had to beg the child to get a lunch, since he insisted food would give him a headache and that food was stupid and probably responsible for his loss at UNO. Eventually, he picked up some pizza, took a bite, and immediately became all smiles. Low blood sugar, perhaps?
Meanwhile, another student, finished with his lunch, began to run around the table, snatching bits off of other students' trays. And my little artist, still vaguely purple, thought it would be funny to snatch napkins from the assistant principal rather than getting some from the napkin holder.
Back in the classroom, I settled four kids in the kitchen doing laundry, and four others in front of the TV to work on sign language vocabulary. One child, quite mysteriously, grabbed her backpack and ran for the restroom. When she returned, she was clad in pink fuzzy pajamas to match her slippers. This was one of those moments where I wished I could subscribe to the "can't beat 'em, join 'em" philosophy; unfortunately, I don't keep a set of PJs at school.
After the sign video, I popped in a reward movie one child had brought with her from home. It turned out to be the magic of WEE SING IN SILLYVILLE, a video with which I am intimately familiar, thanks to a college buddy of mine who also happened to be a ten-year-old Wee Sing fanatic. My student signed, "Green frog," and seemed immensely shocked when I understood that she meant "Frugy Frogs." So then she added, "Red baby," and I asked, "Baby Bitty Bootie?" She was thrilled. I was horrified that I still remembered these details after three years.
By the time I sent the kids home, I had myself convinced that it must be Friday by now. Unfortunately, convincing me and convincing the calendar are two separate things.