What in the World?!

from The Diary of a First Grade Teacher

What in the world is not the only expression that flew through my mind today when I saw what I saw ...

While I’m constantly impressed, delighted and even surprised at what my first graders say or do, rarely am I shocked.

“Mmmmm, I’M TELLING!” Stevie yelled from inside the boys’ bathroom. I was standing nearby in the hallway, sending boys in to use it two-at-a-time.

Running out of the bathroom, Stevie gasped and said, “Teacher, Joe Joe’s wettin’ paper and throwing it EVERYWHERE!”

“Shhh,” I said. “Slow down. HOW is he wetting it?” I prayed silently.

“He’s got the zink on FULL BLAST and he’s wettin’ it!”

“Come here, Joe Joe!” I demanded. “RIGHT NOW.”

I told Stevie to go see who else – from any other class – was in the bathroom. And when he reported that Joe Joe was alone and still throwing paper, I dashed in there.

Come here, Teacher!

When I entered Joe Joe’s back was to me.

"Whoa!" I said, almost slipping down ... "WHAT in the WORLD?!"

“Come here, Teacher,” he yelled above the sound of the rushing water. “You gotta see this!”

Tiptoeing through a puddle of water, I made it to the sink and turned the water off. Hmmm … I didn’t see paper anywhere.

Calmly as possible, I said, “WHAT in the world are you doing, pray tell?!”

Look at That!

Joe Joe was wringing wet and excited. “”Look at that!”

“I AM,” I said, shocked at how wet everything was, including him!

“No,” he hollered, still pumped up. “Look up yonder!” Beaming, he pointed at the bathroom ceiling. “Snow-covered stumps!”

“What? Snow-covered stumps?” Now, WHERE did he learn a term like that? I smelled a rat - as they say.

“Yeah, a whole bunch of ‘em ... But they little.”

When I looked up again, I saw tens of dozens of small white clumps on the ceiling. Some wet, and some dry, indicating that someone had been working on this project for quite a while.

Joe Joe stood proudly, admiring his work. “Purty, huh?”

I couldn’t believe what I saw ... If and when I have to go into the girls’ or the boys’ bathroom, I’ve never even thought about looking UP! Obviously, none of the other teachers have thought about either.

“Did you do all of this by YOURSELF, or did you have some help?”


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Big Kids Learned Me

“Oh, I got LOTSA help. All them big kids learned me how to build snow-covered stumps!”

"Uh-huh, that sounds more like it!" I said, doubting if he had ever seen snow, let alone snow-covered stumps!

“Let’s go!” I said. “You’re going to need some mops and things to clean this place up!”

“But look at the roof,” he insisted, staring up at me and trying to pull me back in. “REALLY! Ain’t it purty?!”

Was he serious? I had a hard time keeping a straight face.

“See. You really DO like it!”

Keeping a Straight Face

“NO – and let me make this clear – I do NOT like for you to PLAY in the bathroom, the water, the toilet paper. You are NOT allowed to be in here defacing public property.”

Although I was upset with him, I could see that he was truly enraptured with his “artwork.” I shook my head. Snow-covered stumps ... What an artistic name for such a big mess!

Again, trying not to laugh, I hid behind a solemn, stern face. I really didn’t want to confuse him.

But he’s so intuitive, he ignored my poker face and read right through me.

“Yeah, you really do like it,” he said, smiling and using a teasing tone, “I can tell. I can tell by your sparkly eyes – RIGHT THERE – on your big ole grouchy face.”

Again, I shook my head. And at that moment all I could think was What in the world am I going to do with this youngun?!

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