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Kinder Memories Part 5

Tabitha Helms

Well, it has definitely been an interesting week. I had two firsts this week: my first time subbing in a class other than my own, and my first experience with a student throwing up. You heard me right, both equally eventful. Our school has been plagued with a stomach flu epidemic. Quite unfortunate in more ways than one. It means that twice this week, I have received a frantic call to my kindergarten classroom asking me or my student teacher teammate to run over to another class to substitute. I got two subbing jobs this week--one in 3rd grade and one in 5th grade. The 3rd grade class was the first, and it was only for a half day, which was a good taste of what it was like without having to do a full day. It is a very flexible thing to be able to sub. You have to jump into a classroom where you don't know where anything is, how discipline works, what tactics are used to get quite, or the slightest idea of the students' names. You constantly have a million children yelling out, "THAT'S NOT HOW SHE DOES IT!" "YOU HAVE TO DO IT THIS WAY!" It was exhausting.

The fifth grade class was more fun than I expected it to be. I was freaking out since I am after all, more experienced teaching 5 year olds. The funny thing was, two of the 5th graders had younger siblings in my kinder class.

I popped over to kindergarten while my 5th graders were at PE and told them I was teaching their brothers and sisters today instead. My supervising teacher was kind of freaking out; I'm apparently more flexible than she is and she was not a fan of jumping in to teach her kids when I had been the one to plan the lessons. She said it was a bit traumatic in the morning for the kids when they discovered I wasn't there. I told her I was selfishly glad they had missed me. I assume my teacher took the opportunity to remind them that it was almost my last day of teaching there because a couple students reminded me when I popped in that it was almost my last day. My teacher said things were going fine but she was not practicing the songs with them that day. The students were working at their stations when I came in and I tried to sneak in and out to make some copies that needed to be prepped for next week without making a big commotion. But of course, my little darlings shouted with excitement when they saw me, "MISS NEAL!!!" with several crushing hugs. I can't lie; I loved it. My teacher told everyone to stop for a moment and give me an air hug to help the kids take a moment of distraction and then get back on focus. I had some time, and they had 5 minutes before recess, so I offered to run songs with them. My teacher was more than happy to comply, as was I.

If there is any way you can make it Thursday night at 6pm, you absolutely MUST come see my sweet, smiling, singing kinders. Seriously, I can't help but absolutely BEAM when I watch them practicing their songs for me. The motions I came up for them are simply ADORABLE when they do them, and when I tell them to stand and smile beautifully during the instrumental breaks, it is just so precious. The parent volunteers can vouch for me as I see them watching from the back of the room, smiling as big as I am. Haha, I love it.

After running songs, I dashed back to fifth grade and finished my day. We had one incident where the parent of one of the kids who was supposed to teach an art lesson was 30 minutes late and hadn't contacted me. I was FLIPPING out! We had an hour set aside for art, she wasn't coming and she wasn't coming. The student whose mom it was had stepped out of the class for a moment so I couldn't ask him what was up. I had no idea what to do with them for an hour. I didn't even know where the art supplies were to teach an impromptu art lesson. We only had one extra worksheet to do if there was extra time, but she could supposedly show up at any minute, so I had them silent reading for a while. I had the kid call his mom finally who said she was at Michaels picking up some supplies and would be there in 5. Ten minutes later, she was still not there. I gave them the worksheet. They moaned and groaned. I told them we would stop and put them away the minute she walked in. Thankfully they didn't have to work on it long. It was a grammar worksheet so some of the kids were flipping out and needing extra help. It would have been better to know how much they had done of that grammar rule so I could give them a mini review on the board together first. As it was, I thought they already knew about it so I just read over the directions and handed it out.

My favorite part of the day was when the 5th graders had music class. Mr. David comes in to teach our kindergartners music every week, and knows that I sing. When he saw me walk in, he stopped the lesson to say, "Aren't you the one in kindergarten?" "Yeah, they have me subbing 5th grade today!" "Lucky you." Then he turned to my kids, "Do you know that your teacher has a beautiful singing voice?" My kids went absolutely nuts, "WHAT?????" "WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL US MISS NEAL?????" "SING FOR US!!!!!!" Mr. David told them to get back to the lesson and we'd try to get their teacher to sing for them at the end. Then I started flipping out. I could have used my singing as an incentive for them to be good, but I hadn't thought about that in advance. Now it was taken from me, and I was going to have to sing for them whether I wanted to or not. I got suuuuuuper nervous while I waited for them to finish playing the keyboards. Then Mr. David told me to sing them a Christmas song like "Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer." He sat down at the piano and started playing it super jazzy. Jazz is so fun, I got to do all sorts of fun things with my voice. The kids were astounded. It was funny. After we left they swarmed around me, "MISS NEAL!!!! HOW DO YOU KNOW HOW TO SING?" "WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL US YOU COULD DO THAT???" "WILL YOU SING FOR SEES NEWS???" "YOU HAVE TO SING FOR THE TALENT SHOW!!!" "IT'S TEACHERS WITH HIDDEN TALENTS!" "YOU HAVE A HIDDEN TALENT!" "I'm not really a teacher, and next week is my last week." "WELL CAN YOU RECORD IT EARLY???" "YOU'RE A STUDENT TEACHER AREN'T YOU???" "IT'S TEACHERS AND STUDENT TEACHERS HIDDEN TALENTS!"

Hahaha, those kids.

Now, for what you've all been waiting for.

We went to science and one of our little kinders' mouths started bleeding badly because she was about to lose one of her front teeth. She began flipping out, and Ms. Meeker took her to the nurses office to get her cleaned up. She was fine, and they tried to up-play the fact that the tooth fairy was going to come and losing your teeth is so much fun when she started psyching herself out so much that she started dry heaving. She was doing better so Ms. Meeker brought her back to the class, where a million children leaned in at the sight of the bloody tissue held to her mouth and asked what happened. She started freaking out again, as I was trying to get all the kids outside and lined up for the parents to take them, she puked outside the classroom. She began bawling her eyes out, Ms. Meeker rushed in and out grabbing things to cover it up and get the child to her mother, as I struggled to keep the other kids on task with getting their backpacks and forming a line away from the girl whom I thought had the stomach flu like several other kids have had as our nurses office has been overflowing with victims. There hasn't been enough room for them all. Gross! I was pleased to see that I kept cool considering puke is the biggest fear I have and often worry myself sick at the thought of catching it. Ms. Meeker apologetically brought the girl to her mother and explained what happened, to which the mother replied, "Oh she's such a baby," opened the girl's mouth and yanked the tooth out, which caused the girl to stop crying in shock. Haha.

The next day, a girl in the morning class threw up outside right before coming in for the day. I saw it, averted my eyes, and walked out the way I came to let someone else deal with it. Two days in a row! I can only do so much. When I walked back to the class later, I bumped into the custodian whom I had to point in the right direction to clean it up. I was seriously putting my hand up by my eyes so I wouldn't have to look at it as I made a wide circle around it. That day I went crazy with the clorax wipes and wiped down everything in sight in the classroom: tables, chairs, pencils, math bins, door handles, headphones, etc. When it was time for my class, I noticed a girl there who had been absent the day before. "Hi! Where were you yesterday?" "I was sick." "Oh I'm sorry, that's no fun. Are you feeling better now?" "Yeah. I threw up all over my bed and there was spaghetti in it." EWWWWWWWWWWWWWW, REALLLLLLLLYYYYYYY???? Must I endure this grossness?? Couldn't it have just stayed at, "Yes Miss Neal, I'm feeling much better." Oh kindergarten. I continued my clorax rampage and hand washing rituals, hand sanitized every 10 minutes, went home and ate vitamins and blueberries to get some antioxidants in my system, then went to bed at 9pm to make sure I was getting enough sleep to protect my immune system.

The following day was when I subbed for 5th grade and luckily had no puking experiences, although I had one student ask me what I would do if someone threw up in class, to which I said I would call the custodian. He thought that was funny. I didn't want to think about it. Unfortunately, my psychotic brain can only last so long when dealing on a very personal level with my fears and I worried myself sick that night. Not so much that I puked, but enough to have an upset stomach while panicking that I had come down with the awful flu myself and was going to have to spend all weekend puking instead of attending Christmas parties and babysitting. When I work myself into one of these fits, I recite Scripture to myself and put on soft worship music that I can get a visual picture of. This time, I chose the song, "We Exalt Thee" which I remember from my very first church when I was under 6 years old and I could focus on the soft red pews, with the worship band on stage as I listened to my dad's deep bass harmonies and played with my little animal toys, and hid under the table in the Sunday School room when the pastor came in to kiss each kid on the head. That helped move my mind to brighter things and thankfully fall asleep quick enough that I didn't have any more time to worry and could just sleep instead without having any thoughts at all.

So that was my week of firsts. I spent all weekend sleeping more than I've slept in a long time. It has been so exhausting. I hope I don't have to sub this week because it's my last week with my kids. I'm going to miss them immensely!