A Day In the Life, Dear Students

Merda d’artista: Channeling Piero Manzoni

Dear First Grade Student(s):

      I get it. It’s the end of the day. It’s unseasonably hot. The art room feels (and smells) like the inside of a 6th grader’s sweaty sneaker. You’re tired. I’m tired. Heck, I can tell by that look of consternation on your face that there’s really somewhere else you’d rather be. You want to go home. I want to go home. But hey, we’re all in this together, so let’s make the best of this situation, shall we? Oh, and one more thing, please stop leaving your poop in the art room. Thank you.

Your Art Teacher

A little over a year ago I wrote a letter to a Kindergarten student about the Spiderman undies he left in my art room. Surprisingly, several of you were all, “Hey, at least it wasn’t something else,” which honestly never occurred to me as a possibility. Well guess what? This year must be the year of the something else because not once, but twice, poo was discovered on my art room floor. Twice in the span of a month. The first time I was all, “Hey. That could be poop or it could be clay, who knows, but I don’t want to risk it,” and I made a call to have it cleaned up. Today there was no doubt in my mind what it was. Generally, I’m not one to point fingers, but given that both incidents of Code Brown occurred while I had the same first grade class in art, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve got the number of possible culprits narrowed down to about 25. I could narrow the list of suspects even further to the five students sitting at the table under which the deposit was made, but seeing as how each incident occurred beneath different tables, I suppose I would then have to broaden my list to ten. Then again, I could just point my finger at the kid who had his hand deep down in his pants, possibly partaking in some post-lunch excavation…

Regardless of the source, I am truly grossed out. The thought that a student used the same hand that he (or she) uses when writing, cutting, gluing, pushing in his (or her) chair to do, well, that, had me wearing big ole’ orange rubber gloves and disinfecting my classroom at the end of the day. I’m considering making up a badge to proudly proclaim my survival of the trifecta of bodily waste. The 3Ps, if you will, pee, puke and poop.

Have you made it into the 3P Club yet?

Other possible titles for this post:
Hey! Kid! You dropped your feces.
Code Brown Makes Me Frown

(I feel it’s necessary to inform you that I Googled “feces synonyms” for this post. It had to be done. I think “night soil” is my favorite. Also, I Googled “poop artist”.)

(And for those responsible teacher-types out there, I did have a conversation with the class about using the facilities, and I spoke with the classroom teacher about it afterwards. Apparently Mr. Hanky has made an appearance or two on the floor of their classroom’s bathroom. Which makes me wonder what about my art room resembles a bathroom? Maybe it’s all the sinks.)


16 thoughts on “Merda d’artista: Channeling Piero Manzoni

  1. Okay – so that was a hysterical post.
    And yes – I didn't realize it, but I'm a trifecta survivor too! (Mine was a hard sort of plerk that rolled out of some kid's pant leg. The girl next to him ratted him out.) Well – here's hoping for a cleaner day tomorrow…


  2. We had a third grader that was pooping in various rooms in the school, never mine. It was a deeper issue, of course, and it seems to have subsided now.

    I once had a kindergartner run out of my room screaming.. she was peeing and she was wearing a skirt, so the pee was all over the floor. As she was running, she slipped in her pee and fell on the floor. Amazingly, I don't think any of the other kindergartners noticed.


  3. LB says:

    Holy $h*t! Technically, I am a member of the 3P Club too, although the student I had kept the poo in her pants, too. So, it's really not the same as finding it on the floor. The pee and the puke did end up on the floor…multiple times.


  4. oh yes I am a proud multi-year member of the 3P club. One class last year I kept having to walk around sniffing and asking who has the poopy pants till one kid happily shouted out….”It's ME!” and wiggled in his seat.


  5. Jen says:

    LOL I had one of those kids too!! We couldn't figure out how he left his
    “deposits” until I caught him wiggling and shaking one day.


  6. Humm….
    I can imagine the manifold dimensions related to this fragrant experience of yours.

    I wonder about the impact it had on the other kids in the room. And of course the weight of the experience on the kid that did the deed itself.

    This evidently would cause a considerable class disruption. So how did you regain the attention of your learners, and get them back on task again. This is something that even Madeline Hunter (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madeline_Cheek_Hunter) did not foresee.

    I have practiced nursing in long-term care and psych clinical areas where I had to deal with such events—but I have never had to deal with such a thing in a public school class setting.

    In considering this blog, and this entry specifically, I am impressed to think that Elementary School Art teachers have an adventurous career.

    So what did you do to redirect the other students, and take care of kid that created the disruption?


  7. I am honored to say I hold a membership too to the 3P's. Last week I had a student pee right there on the floor next to me. She had stuck her fingers in the paint tray and I guess the tinkle just happened. She was very quiet when telling me she had just dropped pee on the floor. Needless to say I had her use the restroom and off she went to find new clothes somewhere in the building. Yep, it is never a dull day in an elementary classroom.


  8. Reading your blog and all these comments literally is making me cry! Every time I read another comment it reminds me of things that have happened in my art room. Yes, the mysterious lone poop, a few months ago the tie dyed underwear on the floor during a class, multiple pee stained stools, and the total disgusting vomit on the artwork. Yes it's all in a days work.


  9. I'm happy to report I've only made it to 2P's (pee, puke). I've never experienced the poop…yet. But I often see kids with their hands down the back side of their pants a lot in 1st grade.
    I just recently had a girl projectile vomit in class all over the tables floor and me. I had a high school intern at the time and she saved me by taking over the class while I gagged and helped the child.


  10. I'm only up to the 2P club level, thank the gods! I just had to write to tell you that I'm laughing so hard while reading your post and the comments that I think I tinkled a little my self!!!!!


  11. I am just staggered by the logistics of pooping at an art table. Talk about multi- tasking! How is it the kids at the table did not part like the Red Sea away from this student? Hope, the kid is OK though… that's rough


  12. Yes! I am up to the 3Ps! Best #1 A very wet dripping paint smock kindly returned to the bin by the student who had not made it to the bathroom. Best #2 Puke – cleaned up by yours truly when the custodian never showed up and the next class was loudly waiting (without their teacher)in the hallway…hey someone had to do it! Best #3 We had a mysterious individual I called “The Mad Pooper” who was narrowed down to one class and one table of boys, but I never did find out who the little rascal was.


  13. OMGGGG! In my now former elementary building we called it membership in the Number 1 club…or Number 2! Thanks for sharing…and appreciating my MS kiddos more! (OOOOO, I hope to never see this in MS!)


  14. I am clearly a member of this club. I once had a high school intern and the newspaper was visiting to interview me about something going on in my class. My class was buzzing with tons of activity this particular day. I had a 1st grader throw up everywhere and onother kid felt the need to come tell me the kid puked (as if I didn't know)and he slipped and fell in the vomit. The newspaper employee said “I can't believe that just happened. I think I saw that happen in a movie once”.


  15. Anonymous says:

    Ahh but Laura in the very room you are teaching in I had a number 2 experience. I had heard rumors of random poopings in variuos 6th grade classrooms but it never occured to me that “IT” was not someone's broken sculpture of their pet until I picked it up…yes in my bare hands…..ewh, ewh, ewh. I could not wash my hand with enough soap or hot enough water. But on a much sadder note this is often a result of sexual abuse.


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