Department Of Starting The New Year With A Memory Of Teacher Appreciation
Someone once lost an argument with me….
Someone once lost an argument with me….
(hint: this is called, foreshadowing)
I’ll try again.
Someone once lost an argument with me re the correct the answer to the question, “What is the USA’s ‘National Pastime’?'” Someone said the answer was baseball; moiself pointed out that our national pastime is criticizing other people’s parenting skills.  Someone began his rebuttal, then quickly conceded.
Another easy target for critique is K-12 schoolteachers. I recently ran across some grousing about teachers, which caused me to reflect upon how it is so easy – too easy – to look back and criticize schools and teachers, to parse what they neglected to do, or what they did do, but did wrongly or inadequately.  I wanted to take a different tack, to start the new year. And so, here is A Good Thing ® which happened to me, when I was in grade 3, courtesy of select staff members of Wilson Elementary School.
Background info (as in, a memory spark): Dateline: a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (college, late 1970s). I was out to dinner with my Boyfriend. In a tender moment ® and apropos of something I cannot now recall, BF reached across the table, used his index finger to brush a strand hair off of my forehead, and said he’d noticed that, sometimes when I was tired and/or had something cold to drink (I was drinking a glass of ice water at the time  ), I spoke with a soft lisp. BF said he found that little tic of mine to be “adorable.”
I thought he was nucking futs, and told him so.
What was he talking about – nobody had ever said anything like that to me?! For some reason, moiself was…not pleased. But I asked a couple of close friends, who confirmed BF’s observation. The next night I telephoned my parents, and my mother filled me in.
“Oh, I haven’t thought of that in years – don’t you remember?” she began.
Up until age eight or nine I apparently spoke with a slight lisp. I say “apparently” because I have no recollection of having done so. But after the afore-mentioned memory spark inspired me to phone home, my mother confirmed that, yes, I’d spoken with a “minor” lisp as a child. Mom said that they (my parents) had consulted with my early teachers (grades K-2), who advised *against* giving me any speech treatment or therapy. Their reasoning was that I was an early and confident reader, a “social leader” among the other students,  and a straight A student. In other words, my lisp did not seem to be an impediment in my life. It was barely obvious to adults, and I wasn’t teased about it by other children. Why risk singling me out and making me feel like there was something wrong with me?
However, my third-grade teacher advocated for speech therapy, which my parents agreed to. Thus, for a couple of months I got excused from class, twice a week in the afternoon, to go to a special group therapy meeting, with other kids in the school who also lisped.
Wait a minute, Mom, seriously? Wouldn’t I remember this?
It took me a moment, and then I had the face-palming realization:
Holy Misarticulated sibilants –THAT was speech therapy?!?!?
I had completely forgotten about that group.
Indeed, for a period of a little less than two months, third-grader moiself got to leave class a couple of times a week, during afternoon reading sessions, to join a group of four or five other kids (all of them younger than I and in the first or second grades), and we got to play board games.
As the memory came back, I recalled thinking at the time that the games were somewhat childish – but, hey, it got me out of class and doing something different. Also, my teacher and the nice young woman (the speech therapist, although I didn’t know that that’s what she was) who ran the games acted like it was an honor to be chosen for the group.
The games consisted of the participant students rolling dice and hopping their game tokens around a game board. When you landed on certain squares you had to draw a card from the pile of cards next to that square, and pronounce the words or describe the pictures and/or actions being depicted on the cards – all of which…hmmm…started with an S, or sometimes a Z or Th (“Three sealions are serving seaweed soup and sandwiches to Sally.“) The speech therapist looking on would make some comments about pronunciation, but after the first few sessions she mostly hung back, as the students began to correct one another. And then we’d get candy, or some kind of prize.
Here is where the Teachers  Doing Their Job Right ® comes in.
I’ve heard other adults tell of how they (or their children) were embarrassed for needing special help in school – whether for speech or physical or academic impediments – in part because of how they were singled out and/or removed from class to receive the tutoring they needed. Not only did I have no shame whatsoever in going to (what I did not realize was) speech therapy, I thought it was yet another privilege I was given, like being able to go to The Back Of The Class without asking for my teacher’s permission.
The Back Of The Class, consisting of a table and two bookshelves, was the class’s mini-library. Those students who finished their work early during individual project times (and who had been deemed by the teacher to be mature enough to self-monitor their behavior) could get up from their desks, quietly go to the back of the room, and take whatever book they wanted from the library back to their desk.
I consistently finished my in-class assignments earlier than the other students. My teacher noted this early on in the school year; she also noted how I got easily bored (and prone to mischief involving distracting my peers) when I had nothing to do. She wisely instituted the “class library policy,” and so I got to read Kon Tiki (for what seemed like 20 times) and other adventure stories, instead of just sitting in my seat fidgeting while my classmates finished their math worksheets, handwriting practice, etc.
My teacher had already enlisted me in helping other students with their multiplication tables and spelling lists; it was an easy leap for moiself to think that the speech therapy board games were yet another way in which I was being recruited to help Other Kids ®. The teacher’s and therapist’s deft handling of the situation – aided in part by my own cluelessness – had me thinking that I was getting rewarded for academic success by being able to leave class – *not* having to stay after class, or miss part of recess or lunch break – and go play games (even if it was with other kids who talked funny).
* * *
Departments Of One Of The Word’s Cruelest Ironies
BTW: Whose brilliant idea was it, for the word lisp to have an s in it?
* * *
Department Of Keeping The Relationship Fresh,
Chapter 198 In A Never-Ending Series
Dateline: January 2; MH and I go for a “Second Day” hike  at the newly opened Chehalem Ridge Nature Reserve. The reserve is home to upland forests, oak woodlands wetlands and other habits, and its ten miles of intersecting trails offers several lovely views of the Tualatin Valley, Mt. Hood, and other Willamette Valley/Portland Metro area sights. The area’s recent snowfalls were an added hiking bonus (read: a challenge, re icy trails), and were a good backdrop for other kinds of nature observations, such as this picture MH took, and posted on FB:
MH received comments, ranging from helpful to guffaw-worthy, in response to his question. The science/biology-minded folks got into comments re color and texture, while others just enjoyed the possibility for thinly-disguised poop jokes.
Moiself’s contributions included:
– It’s slightly greenish, with the striations that may be… Plant matter?… Fur? But it’s not pellets so it’s not a deer or other ungulate
– Our biology-trained daughter (who has also worked with big cats) thinks it’s bobcat scat, and that the striations are fur, not plant matter.
Other scoops on the (presumed) poop:
– The tapered end and size makes me think Coyote.
The green is odd, was it near a wetland?
-To me it looks like a cat’s fur ball hack…
which would explain the fur and greenish liquid oozing.
Then, this past Monday morning, I saw that MH had made an addition to his post:
“I tried googling for bobcat hair balls. There’s a video of a bobcat bringing one up, but I didn’t come across any good pictures. There was this lengthy page that includes stories of domestic vs bobcat….”
To which moiself had to reply:
“I tried googling for bobcat hair balls.”
Now, there’s an afternoon well spent.
I have heard that *gentle* teasing can keep a relationship young.  That may be debatable, but surely one of the more fulfilling aspects of a decades-long relationship is discovering something that you are surprised to know about your partner. Never would I have predicted, as a new bride over thirty-some years ago, that a sentence containing the phrase “…googling for bobcat hairballs” would ever be used by my beloved.
* * *
Punz For The Day
Did you hear about the monkey who was arrested for throwing its feces at zoo patrons?
She was charged with Turd debris assault.
Why did the Packy the elephant bring toilet paper to the zebra’s birthday bash?
Because Packy was a party pooper.
Remember, dog owners, when you walk the dog you have to pick up its poop.
It’s your doo diligence.
Why is Chuck Norris’s dog trained to pick up its own poop?
Because Chuck Norris doesn’t take shit from any one.
Chuck Norris doesn’t flush the toilet.
He scares the shit out of it.
Yeah, I know, scat is typically used to denote animal feces, but I’ve heard that making at least one Chuck Norris Joke ® – aka, reciting a Chuck Norris “fact” – at the beginning of the year is a guarantee of good fortune in the weeks to come. 
* * *
Department Of The Bonus Round Of You-Know-Who Jokes
(Happy New Year to son K, who once brought me to helpless tears of stomach-cramping, snotty-nosed laughter when he loaned me his Chuck Norris Factbook to read while we were seated in a booth in a restaurant, waiting for our lunch to arrive).
* Chuck Norris doesn’t read books.
He stares them down until he gets the information he wants.
* The flu gets a Chuck Norris shot every year.
* When Chuck Norris plays dodgeball, the balls dodge him.
* Chuck Norris doesn’t worry about high gas prices. His vehicles run on fear.
* The Dead Sea was alive before Chuck Norris swam there.
* When Chuck Norris was born, he drove his mom home from the hospital.
* There is no theory of evolution, just a list of animals Chuck Norris allows to live.
* Death once had a near-Chuck-Norris experience.
* There is no chin behind Chuck Norris’ beard. There is only another fist.
* MC Hammer learned the hard way that Chuck Norris can touch this.
* Chuck Norris has been to Mars. That’s why there are no signs of life there.
* Chuck Norris can strangle you with a cordless phone.
* If Chuck Norris traveled to an alternate dimension in which there was another
Chuck Norris and they both fought, they would both win.
* Chuck Norris’ farts smell like freshly baked cinnamon rolls.
* * *
Okay; I gotta get control here. Seriously; somebody stop me; this could go on forever.
* Chuck Norris counted to infinity — twice.
* * *
May you have a legitimate reason for “googling hairballs;”
May you cherish memories of a really good teacher;
May you read a series of Chuck Norris jokes that makes you laugh so hard
you fear a proverbial pants-wetting session may ensue;
…and may the (continent) hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 All together now: specifically, mothers.
 I am not in anyway implying that teachers should be immune from critique…and I have *plenty* of I-can’t-believe-they-did-this examples from my own life as a student, who had to deal with massive teacher fails.
 His theory was that the ice numbed my tongue, making it easy for my mouth and tongue to slip back into my former lisp, which I was subconsciously controlling…or something like that.
 Is that teacher-speak for, “bossy?”
 I include the speech therapist in that category.
 “First Day Hikes are part of a nationwide initiative led by America’s State Parks to encourage people to get outdoors. On New Year’s Day, hundreds of free, guided hikes will be organized in all 50 states….” (from “First Day Hikes,” American Hiking Society )
 That, and appreciation – or at least toleration – of fart jokes. And, this should go without saying (so I’ll type it,) farts.
 That is something I just made up. But it makes as much sense as any of the “Doing _____ will guarantee good luck in the new year!” prescriptions I’ve ever heard.