Looking ahead to March

My 2011 calendar lists holidays. Of course, Easter and Christmas appear on the calendar, but I was tickled to discover some lesser known observances. I'm psyched for the coming month, where...

March 1 is Share A Smile Day
March 16 is Everything You Do Is Right Day
March 26 is Make Your Own Holiday Day

I can't wait to celebrate International Waffle Day on March 25.


I had a laugh out loud moment when I discovered that my birthday is National Panic Day.

So what are you going to do for Make Your Own Holiday Day?


Look it up!

My students are masters at finding ways to save time. (They would much rather do something other than homework. Big surprise!) For my part, I'm trying to teach them how to find answers on their own, so they frequently hear me say, "Look it up!"

This past week, I gave my fifth and sixth grade reading class an assignment to design a "wanted" poster based on a character in Elizabeth George Speare's Sign of the Beaver, the novel we're reading in class. Because I'm a stickler for detail, I checked the students' work before allowing the project to be handed in.

One student handed his poster to me. After a quick scan, I handed it back. "Sit down and proofread the poster," I said, as he sighed laboriously and hung his head. He parked himself at his desk and his eyes glazed over as he reviewed the paper. "I know I spelled bankruptcy right," he said confidently. "Are you sure?" I asked. "Maybe you should look it up." He dismissed the idea. It's too much work to get the dictionary.

After a bit, he's back up at the podium.  "Can you give me a hint? Can you, like, point at it?" I couldn't resist pointing at the paper from 18 inches away--a completely useless gesture. "Come on, you have ten minutes of class left," I said with a smile. "You can find it." My student slumped back to his desk and sat there for a few more minutes. Desperate, he tried to enlist some of his classmates to find the mistake. "There's no error!" he claimed on another trip to the podium. Finally, my student realized it might be wise to consult Noah Webster. He retrieved the dictionary and realized that "bankruptcy" does indeed have a "T" in it.

I gave him a thumbs up as I turned to the next student, an energetic girl with a ponytail. She's gesticulating wildly, complaining about the extra work I'm causing her."You are so melodramatic," I told her.  She paused long enough to ask, "What does that mean?"

"Look it up."

P.S. She did. :)


I'm not a pet person

My dear sister and her family just picked out a dog at a shelter. I suspect she didn't tell me because she knew what I would say. I'd like to think I'm open-minded, but after some reflection, I realized that, of course she would be looking for someone to reinforce her decision. She was right. That wasn't me.

Confession: I am not a "pet person." I've learned that one must be very careful about admitting this. Many people look at you like you just kicked a kitten. See, it's not that I don't like animals. I cried when I saw a large bird swoop down and carry a baby rabbit away in its mouth. I sobbed for a week when our family's cat was hit by a car when I was a child. I don't go to zoos because of the feelings of ambivalence they inspire. (I can't decide if I feel sorry for them because they are in captivity or if I feel envious because their every need is effortlessly met.)

But I can't pretend that I truly love animals or that I understand those who do. I don't like slobbery dog kisses or rambunctious canines that jump all over my dress pants and sniff wildly at me. I hate picking pet hair off my clothes and finding it covering the bottom of my socks. I dislike the smell of pet food and dog breath. And don't get me started on the amount of money that people spend on pet care. The idea that Rover needs a chiropractic adjustment or a therapeutic massage seems absurd. (I know I'm not the only one, either. Author Robert Fulghum had an essay about his feelings about dogs in It Was On Fire When I Lay Down On It.)

If you're a pet lover, don't hate me. I'm NOT going to kick your dog. But I will push him away if he tries to "kiss" me.