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I'm afraid these kindergartners were disappointed this year, as they never did reach their goals. We only play "real" football at HOPAC, not American, and teaching ninjas just didn't make it into the curriculum. 

This was a hard year for me and for many of my staff, but I never expected to laugh so much. There's something about absurdly difficult situations that make a lot of things seem funny. And working with children gave us plenty of entertainment.

The first month of school, a teacher came into my office, very concerned. She handed me a water bottle full of a dark red liquid. “Smell this,” she said. I took a whiff. Uhhh….that’s alcoholic.

She looked terrified. “This is a student’s water bottle. That child has been falling asleep all morning. What should I do about it?”

I burst out laughing. “You laugh!” I said. “I know this family and I am 100% positive this was an accident. So go ahead and just get a good laugh out of it!” (And, of course, I was right. The mortified parents had a very reasonable explanation for how wine had unintentionally ended up in their child's bottle instead of water.)

Or there was the time when a class just wouldn't accept a teacher's vague 'birds and the bees' explanation and insisted on specifics. The next day, one of those students pointed to the belly of a pregnant teacher and announced (with a knowing smile), “I know how that happened.” When that story was told at a staff meeting, we just about fell off of our chairs. 

I taught weekly lessons in each class on emotion regulation and problem-solving. One week, as a review question, I asked the kindergarten class, "Who remembers how we calm down when we are upset?"

One earnest soul responded, "You cook yourself."


"Yeah, you cook yourself. Like pasta."

Then I recalled: A couple of weeks prior, I had taught the kids to pretend they were a piece of uncooked spaghetti, and slowly relax their muscles until they were a puddle on the floor--as if they had been cooked. 

Apparently, the take away from that discussion is that we should cook ourselves when we need to calm down. Great.

Our fourth and fifth graders took standardized tests, and I chuckled my way through checking over the "ethnicity" section. About half of the kids had labeled themselves "multi-ethnic." 

No, darling. You were born in America and are blond-haired and blue-eyed. Yes, you've spent your whole life in Tanzania, but you are White.

Or, I know you grew up in China, but you were born in Tanzania and your skin is dark. You are Black, not multi-ethnic.

Oh, the conundrum of being a Third-Culture Kid. I did a lot of erasing and re-categorizing.

There were the toothless grins of the 6-and-7-year-olds who greeted me every morning. Or during kindergarten assessments, the child who drew himself as the Incredible Hulk. Or the one who when asked, "What sound does P make?," confidently declared, "Penis!" I had a hard time keeping it together through the rest of that assessment.

Of course, it wasn't just the students who made us laugh. We had Thing 1 and Thing 2 on staff, who fully embraced their responsibility to make mischief wherever they went. Or there was that time when I announced to the whole school that we would be doing "speed" on Friday, and the kids couldn't understand why the teachers were beside themselves.

We were often overwhelmed this year (more about that later), but we were overwhelmed together. And often, that made it really, really fun.

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