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.)

A Day In the Life, Dear Students

Please Don’t Grope the Art Teacher

As I’ve written before, elementary students are very hands-on, touchy-feely. I think I’ve been groped more as an elementary art teacher than I ever was during my high school and college years combined. Seriously. Take for example, the first grader who insists on grabbing my, *ahem*, derriere every time he hugs me, or the third grader who embraces me with a face plant into my, um, bosom. Or the kindergartner who needs my attention, eagerly approaches me with hands raised high and proceeds to pat me repeatedly on my, er, lady bumps. Or any of the students who feel the need to caress my legs, my hair, my arm, my foot… Or the ones who accidentally come into contact with any of my aforementioned body parts. In fact, I’ve gotten so used to kids innocently touching me in inappropriate places that it barely even phases me when random adults do it in public. Innocently or not. And don’t even get me started on the lessons perverts could learn from elementary students and their sneaky upskirt maneuvers. You know, I recall being informed in college about all the sh*t you could get into for inappropriately, both intentionally and unintentionally, touching students, but where was the lesson about the many ways in which students will violate your personal space, on a daily basis?

But I think I have an advantage over the students right now. More specifically, a big belly advantage. Now, whenever Huggy McGrabberson comes up to hug me, his face bounces off my belly and knocks him back long before those grubby hands reach my posterior. And yes, I laugh. Every. Single. Time. This almost 30-week baby bump has become quite the defense tool. Students are learning pretty quickly not to stand too close to Ms. Art Teacher. I think I’ve inadvertently taken out two first graders and a kindergartner just by quickly turning around, being unaware that they were standing so close to me, and serving them up a face-full of baby belly. In fact, just today I belly-whacked a sixth grader upside the back of the head while trying to get past his table. I think the lesson he learned far outweighed the embarrassment he displayed. When he sees me coming next time, I guarantee he’ll scootch his chair in like I requested.

Of course, this growing belly also has its disadvantages. My kindergartners have taken to rubbing it when they pass me at the door on their way into the art room. So have a few of my sixth graders. But hey, better my belly than my buttocks, right?

Dear Students

Um… so… yeah, this happened.

Dear Kindergartner:

Hey there, little buddy. How ya doin’? Doing good? Listen, the other day, when you were in my classroom, well, you kind of sort of left something behind when you left. I know the item in question isn’t something a student would normally leave behind in class, so I assure you I will handle this issue delicately. Here, why don’t you come over here where the other students won’t hear, and I’ll try to keep me voice down.

Now, I was just curious, and who knows, maybe you didn’t even know you did it, but I was wondering, why did you leave your Spidey undies on my art room floor? I mean, from what I could gather, they looked like perfectly good and, um, clean underwear. I’m sure there are many logical explanations for this, right? I mean, maybe you were feeling like they were restricting you and you had to be free of their confining ways. I get it. Not everyone in this world was meant to wear undergarments. You know, now that I think about it, we were experiencing those unseasonably high temperatures. Maybe you were hot? Or maybe, and I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me, your pants were recently laundered, and unbeknown to you, there were a pair of Spidey tightie whities stuffed up your pants leg. It happens. Or maybe, just maybe, you had finally had enough of hearing about the Spiderman Broadway show catastrophes and you decided to take your frustration out by shedding your unmentionables in an act of protest.

Regardless of the reason, I have a more pressing question to raise. Laundry mishap aside, how on Earth did you get those things off without anyone noticing? I checked my seating chart, and I know you never left to use the bathroom during class. And all of your table mates were present and accounted for, so had you derobed at your table in the corner, someone would have noticed and mentioned it. And even if your underwear had slipped from your pants leg or even fallen from your pocket, how, during the act of clean-up and lining up, how did no one notice the Webbed Wonder* lying on the floor?

You know what? I can tell you’re embarrassed, so how ’bout we just let this one slide, shall we? Although, if Superman shows up next week, we might have to have this little talk again.

Ms. Art Teacher

*I don’t know if he is actually referred to as the “Webbed Wonder” or if I just made this up.

Dear Students

Caution: Hell just froze over.

Um… Kindergarten students?

Yeah, you.

My Monday Kindergarten class.

What the hell is wrong with you?

Clay day is supposed to be a fun day. Not a whiny, “I don’t wanna” day. Granted, we weren’t using real clay, just modeling clay, but it was supposed to be practice for our next art class when we would use real art clay. Plus, it was supposed to be a relatively laid-back, I-don’t-have-to-do-much day for me. I mean, yeah, I had to teach you how to make a pinch pot, but generally speaking, clay day always teaches itself.

Except for today.

Because you would be having none of that today. What the hell is wrong with you? Kids love clay. Especially magic clay that never dries up. Plus, it was your very own clay that you would get to keep for keeps! It even had your name on it.

But no, half way through the class, you all decided you were bored and would prefer to read books on the carpet and free draw with colored pencils.

And I let you, because in case you hadn’t heard, I didn’t intend on really teaching today.