A First Time for Everything

It doesn’t matter what you do, whether it’s for a living or otherwise; it doesn’t matter how long you’ve done it; it doesn’t even matter how well you can do it now.  There was a time when you did it–whatever it is–for the first time.  That time when you took a deep breath, put on the brave face, and committed to actually getting in there and making it happen.  Ready or not, here I come, and all that.

If you’re a parent, you brought home your first child, nervously wondering how you could possibly nurture and raise another human being after struggling for five minutes with something as simple as a car seat.

If you’re a teacher, you stood there mildly quaking in your low wedges (sensible flats for me) as your first class walked toward you in the hallway.  “Wait a minute, I’m here by myself?”

If you’re a retail clerk, you had your first customer.  A police officer, you had your first traffic stop.  A firefighter, your first structure fire.  A barista, your first latte.  A ten-year-old kid dragging a lawn mower, your first paying yard.  The list goes on.  Pick a profession…each has its firsts.

So, about my haircut the other day.

It wouldn’t be right to say that I have a hairstyle, per se. My hair is too thin (though not that thin) and I’m too old to grow it longer, I’ve got a few well placed cowlicks that require it to be sorta-parted on the right side, and, honestly, I don’t have the energy or inclination to maintain it with anything other than a brush in the morning and my fingers run through it during the day.  At my age I’m thankful for what I’ve got–my dad says you can comb grey–but every month or so I don’t go to get it styled…I just need a haircut.

I frequent a local chain that features sports TV and a guy-ish atmosphere.  There usually aren’t too many kids, and it’s far enough away from my school that it doesn’t matter if there were.

I learned a long time ago that it’s best for me to let the barber, er, stylist just cut my hair.  If I try to tell her what to do, invariably she’ll do exactly what I ask and people will look at me funny for the next few weeks until it grows back out.  It does grow back out, you know.  While I’m a control freak in many other areas of my life, when I sit down in the chair I just ask for a haircut.  It works for me.  

The other day my name was called and I shook hands (nice touch, I suppose) with a stylist I’d never met before.  She looked younger than most, but nothing seemed amiss as I made my way back to her chair.  I still had my glasses on as she put the cape around me and asked how I wanted my hair cut.  My glasses are relevant, because without them I wouldn’t have seen her expression as I asked her to simply give me a haircut.

Note to self: When a stylist’s eyes go wide with your request, that’s not necessarily a good sign.

I elaborated, giving my quick spiel about her knowing her business better than I do, and she seemed to understand what I wanted.  I’m not trying to ruin the story, reader, when I say that my hair looked pretty good when I walked out the door.  It did, well, for the most part. No one has looked at my hair any funnier than they usually do.  

There were a few moments, though, after I realized she was just that new at this that I was worried: She dropped the comb twice (“Your hair is so thick that I can’t get a comb through it!”  Ohhhh kay), she stood there looking at my head for a few really long seconds a couple of times, and the entire process took two innings of baseball–nearly an eternity in stylist years. Oh, and she brought over the stylist from the next chair to actually finish the cut. In retrospect, I guess that was a positive.  Bless her heart, though, she did okay for a newby.  We’ve all been there, and it’s not easy.

Besides, when it’s all said and done, it does grow back out, you know.

This is Not a Story About My Wife and Granddaughter

It’s a sunny spring morning, this first Sunday in April, and our girls came over earlier for breakfast to celebrate Lisa’s birthday.  It was great to have all of them: Karin, Kim, and both granddaughters, ACT 1 and 2.  (We’re avoiding putting the girls’ names online for now.  Since both of them have ACT as their initials, ACT 1 & 2 is a convenient–and cute, in our opinion–way to refer to them.  Kind of like Thing 1 and Thing 2, only different.  Did Karin plan it that way?  Probably.)

They’re back home now taking naps, Lisa’s gone into the office (she’s an accountant who specializes in personal tax preparation, and there are only two weeks left until April 18…’tis the season), and I’ve got the side porch to myself.  Well, almost.  Our dog, Maggie, is sunning on the top step.

And there are the chickens.  When I sat down to pen (type? keyboard?) this narrative, our chickens weren’t part of my plot line.  I’m being totally honest when I say they didn’t even enter my mind until after I’d written the word “myself” in the previous paragraph.  Our ladies were doing their free-ranging thing since I’m out here to supervise, but I wasn’t going to tell you about that.  I was going to write a story about my wife trying to teach ACT 2 to wrinkle her nose.  The Google doc I’m working in is even titled “Nose Wrinkling.”  Then I got these pictures.  

Quick aside: The advantage of an iPad and Bluetooth keyboard over a typewriter is apparent during these situations.  No one ever picked up a typewriter and took a quick picture with it.

Chickens are naturally curious, I’ve observed over the years they’ve been a part of our lives, and some of them are just a little bit bossy.  There are docile breeds and more aggressive breeds, and within each there’s a range of personalities.  We’ve got a Rhode Island Red that simply needs to be in charge.  She’s not necessarily aggressive (although she does peck at toenails during sandal season), but she’s far from being shy.  

I was sitting in a chair with my keyboard perched on my lap and a cup of coffee on the porch rail beside me when this little lady marched up the steps. She was clucking away, and without breaking stride walked up to me and flew/hopped the 18 inches to my right knee.  

Um, hello.

She gave me the eyeball (like most birds, chickens’ eyes are situated on their heads in such as way as to allow only one eye to really focus on an object at once), pecked away at my keyboard–the trim, not the keys, or I’d have totally left those letters in the story, and expressed her displeasure when I reached out to stroke her comb.  My wife read once that stroking a chicken’s comb or wattles is a pleasurable experience; for years, we’ve wondered if the author meant for the person or for the chicken since she wasn’t really clear in the text.  I’m leaning toward the person.

After a few minutes I’d had enough fun for one day and nudged her stubborn fluffy butt off of my leg.  Away she went, back into the yard, apparently satisfied with her on-the-porch exploration.

There’s a slight breeze that’s nicely offsetting the rising temperature, I can hear birds singing all around me, and the smell of fresh grass is tickling my nose as a result of my upwind neighbor’s lawn mowing.  I’m going to finish both this narrative and my coffee now, since, for the life of me, I can’t remember the story I sat down to write.  Trust me, though, it was cute.

Is the Passage of Time Constant? SOLSC 31

I have to confess: I teach subject material I don’t really believe.

I teach my students there are 24 hours in a day, and all of those hours take the same amount of time to pass.  The rotation of the Earth, and all that.  There are 60 minutes in an hour, and, again, they all take the same amount of time to pass. 60 seconds in a minute…same amount of time for each one of those, too.

I teach it, but I don’t believe it.  Perhaps you don’t, either.

Sometimes, time speeds up.  For example, those 48 hours between 5:00 p.m. on Friday and 5:00 p.m. on Sunday: Do you think those hours take the same amount of time to pass as any given hour during the week?  Nope, me either.  Much faster.

The 30 “minutes” I get for planning–are those the same as the thirty minutes during a reading test?  Again, not even close.  There you have it, more proof that time speeds up.

Sometimes, time slows down.  The best example I can give happened just today.

I was in the middle of a science lesson, when the intercom “dinged.”   Time froze.  The entire class froze with it, waiting for whatever announcement was to follow.  Waiting.

“Code red, code red.”

Argh, an intruder drill (I hoped).  The class knew what to do, and quickly got into its position.  Time slowed down once again as we waited for the all clear.  Minutes crawled by as we looked for the under-the-door shadow of the feet belonging to whomever would give us the all clear. Finally, our principal turned her key and gave us the word.

After a few moments during which the passage of time returned to normal, it slowed again as I began to wonder, one drill, two drills…three?  The speed of the next period of time vacillated as we went through the weather and fire drill procedures.  Finally, all went back to being as it should (except for recess–that goes fast, too) for the rest of the school day.

Is the passage of time constant?  Not even close.  I’ll still teach it, but you’ll never get me to believe it.
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It’s hard to believe that this is the 31st day of this year’s Slice of Life Challenge.  I’d like to say thank you to each of the folks responsible for this event, and to each of you who have taken the time to read my slices (especially my Welcome Wagon readers).  I appreciate the time and effort, and look forward to continuing the relationship I have with this community.  

The Kids are Alright SOLSC 30

This was also posted on my blog at http://www.yetthereismethod.net/

Whenever I can, I like to incorporate music into my classroom routine.  I’ve only had limited success with music to teach content (trust me, it’s me and not the students…I’m working on it), but I enjoy playing music to brighten the classroom climate.  My go-to music is Kidz Bop.  I don’t think I could play many of the original songs with students, but the kid-friendly covers are well done.

Perhaps my favorite time to turn on the tunes is when the class is practicing cursive writing.  The students are sort of on autopilot (we’ve had the instruction, now we’re just refining letter and word formation) and things are pretty casual.

This morning was great.  As hard as it is to believe, I had just about everyone engaged (yes, you can go to the restroom) and the class was sort of collectively swaying to the beat and singing along.  If it wouldn’t have messed up the morning (and rightly so), I would have done the “hit pause” trick just to hear those few seconds of uninhibited singing along.

In my early years of teaching, a mere ten years ago, I got along with folk tunes (really…Peter, Paul, and Mary were classroom favorites), but in this day of YouTube and streaming audio the students don’t really go for that anymore.  That’s okay, I suppose; I can adapt.  To quote The Who, “The kids are alright!”
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Word nerd note: For fun, take a look at the “all right” versus “alright” discussions at the various credible grammar sites.  Interesting reading.