Category Archives: nonfiction

It is Sunday morning, and my wife is in the next room, preparing herself for a day of castrating llamas

It is Sunday morning, and my wife is in the next room, preparing herself for a day of castrating llamas over at the university where she studies veterinary medicine. An 80-year-old man in the state over from ours has gotten too old to take care of his many llamas, and so they have arrived here in our shoulder of the woods. Because of this, she is practicing her knots on her small blue suture board. I am alternating between reading a magazine and stroking my cats. I have a cold, and am feeling sorry for myself. My wife rarely gets colds, and when she does, they stay for a day or two, and she carries on, barely acknowledging her discomfort. Often, they quickly move on to a weaker host — someone who doesn’t spend her/his Sundays castrating llamas and rescuing wild birds. Me — in other words.

I can best her in an arm wrestle, but if our souls were to wrestle, I am certain hers would slay mine every time.



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Bad Teacher blog feature #2 (Elementary School Kids Are Weird)

A few weeks ago, we started up the new school year at my elementary school. This year I have a different role than the one I have had in year’s past. I am no longer teaching physical education, but instead I am helping out in a Special Education capacity (after spending much of my twenties working for a city newspaper, I’m still trying to figure out what exactly I want to do with my professional life for the long-term, although I know it has something to do with elementary education).

I love the begining of the school year for all of the obvious reasons. The big one is that it’s just really wonderful to see the kids after a summer has passed. They run up to you, blasting your name out — wanting to show you their new bike or the holes in their mouth where their front teeth used to be. And, as a teacher, you’re genuinely excited to see them too.

Anyway, all that being said, there are some odd aspects of working at a school, and these are quirks that you get at any elementary school, no matter where you work. The kids are so self-centered (it’s natural at that age) that they only see you as wearing a single hat (the teacher one), and nearly lose their minds when they spot you outside of class. They also assume that as an adult working at a school, you know everything that is happening at that school at all times. For a guy like me, in his late twenties (okay 30) and still in an “everything is about me” phase of his life — someone that doesn’t go home every day to a houseful of kids, but rather goes home to do young people stuff — it can be perfectly bizarre to see the way these kids view you.

So two days ago, at 8:30 am, I am heading to the classroom in which I work when I spot this 6th grader. He’s a boy I know fairly well because I worked with him last year during phys ed classes and at recess, refereeing soccer games. I haven’t seen him this year yet, though, because I am no longer teaching P.E classes, but rather I am spending all my time in a 3rd grade classroom as a teacher’s aide.

This boy is a good-natured kid; he’s not an angel but what kid is at that age. He has a twin brother and he and his twin used to constantly annoy each other, to the point where they weren’t allowed to play the same game at the same time ever.

Anyway, when I spot him, I say something like, “Mark! I can’t believe I haven’t seen you yet this year. How are you doing buddy?”

He’s in a straight, quiet line with his classmates, walking to his classroom, and I know he’s not supposed to be talking, but I figure what’s the harm in saying hi to the kid.

In response, Marc smiles wide in my direction and raises his hand to say hi. Suddenly he’s letting students behind him pass him by, as he steps aside, motioning for me to come over and talk to him away from the line, as if he’s got some important business to discuss. I figure we’re gonna be catching up — saying things like, “hey, great to see you,” “what did you do this summer?”, “learn any new soccer tricks this summer?” — after all I haven’t seen this kid for three and a half months.

But, no.

The boy pulls me over to the side, and without a trace of irony, says with a very quizzical look on his face,

“Ian! Ian! is there band today?”

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