Category Archives: kids

Pencil, Pencil, Pen, Pen, Pen…

Yes, students actually eat pencils in class.

My daughter forgot her pencil case in school over the weekend. Now, for normal students, this is no really big deal. But for the Princess, like it is for me as an amateur artist, the pencil case, with her colored pencils and pens in it, is one of the most necessary things for life.

Of course, we did not have an opportunity to go back to school for her pencils and pens. So, panicky, she texted her teacher whereupon the pencil case in question was found and put aside for her until early this morning. She then stole my pens and pencils for the weekend, depriving me and causing me to be the one with the anxiety disorder and heart palpitations.

Of course, pens and pencils were always a critical issue when I was a teacher for 31 years, plus two years as a substitute teacher. Unlike the Princess, students in an English classroom NEVER have a pen or a pencil to write with. I swear, I have seen them gnaw pencils to pieces like a hungry beaver or termite. And they chew on pens to the point that there is a sudden squishy noise in their mouth and they become members of the Black Teeth Club. (Or Blue Teeth Club for the more choosy sort of student.)

A piece of an actual classroom rules poster.

Having students in your class who actually have pencils and pens to learn with is a career-long battle. I tried providing pens for a quarter. I would by cheap bags of pens, ten for two dollars, and sell them to panicky writers and test takers with a quarter (and secretly free to some who really don’t have a quarter). I only used the pen money to buy more cheap pens. But that ran afoul of principals and school rules. A teacher can’t sell things in class without the district accountant giving approval and keeping sales tax records. Yes, the pencil pushers force teachers to give pens, pencils, and paper away for free. I finally settled -on a be-penning process of picking up leftover un-popped pens, half-eaten pencils, and the rare untouched writing instrument apparently lost the very instant the student sat down in his or her desk. These I would issue to moaning pencil-free students until the supply ran out (which it rarely ever did) at no cost to myself.

I also tried telling them repeatedly that they had to have a writing instrument, or they needed to beg, borrow, or steal one. And if they couldn’t do that, I’d tell them, “Well, you could always prick your finger and write in blood.” That was a joke I totally stopped using the instant a student did exactly what I said. A literalist, that one. And it turns out you can’t read an essay that a student writes in actual blood.

But, anyway… My daughter is safely in school now and no longer panicking because she has her precious pencil case back in her possession. And she probably will not ever make that same mistake again. (And she will probably not return my pens and pencils either.)

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Filed under humor, kids, Paffooney, pen and ink, self pity, teaching, Uncategorized

Another “Oops!” School Story

Eating pencils when you are supposed to be writing something isn’t a recommended learning strategy, but is more useful in South Texas than having blue hair.

When I was a rookie teacher in the Spring of 1982, I had to take two busloads of eighth graders nearly a hundred miles to see the State Capitol in Austin for their annual 8th Grade Field Trip.

If you don’t see the potential for disaster in that, well, you are in for a tougher life going forward than the one I am about to complain about.

Anyway, it was an extra-warm sunny Texas day and we had an endless-hours journey in an un-air-conditioned bus with sixty kids and four teachers per bus. And I was the new teacher filled with sizzling rage from enduring eight months and fourteen days worth of get-the-new-teacher tricks by fourteen-and-fifteen-and-sixteen-year-old kids (I didn’t have to rage at the eighteen-year-olds on the field trip because the same things that kept them in the eighth grade until they were eligible for Medicare were the things that disqualified them from going on the field trip). And because the principal was convinced that you could prevent death by throwing things on a bus by having a teacher sitting near the perpetrator, or the potential target, the teachers had to spread out and sit with the kids. Of course, our bus had 59 perpetrators and one potential target (Tomasso, the kid nobody could stand). And the coaches got to sit by the vatos locos most likely to fling metal and hard food. I, of course, got Tomasso.

So, I sat for five hours on the way up to Austin practicing trying to kill apple-core tossers with my best teacher’s stink-eye while ducking gum wads, wrapper balls, and half-eaten Rice-Krispies Treats. And I was also listening to Tomasso’s endless weird questions and comments about penguins that made him the popular target. I got extra practice recognizing bad words in Spanish and resisting the urge to call them “pendejos” in return.

And we got to Austin tired, sweaty, and hungry because it took extra time in both San Antonio and San Marcos traffic, and we missed our lunch connection in a parking lot in central Austin. The kids were mostly not hungry. They were full of chips and hot Cheetos and other salty, unhealthy snack food. Instead of hunger, they were dying of thirst. And while the History teacher in charge of the trip and the coaches were consulting maps and trying to reach the lunch connection with a walkie talkie, I spotted a herd of students going over a wall into a nearby parking garage. I followed to see them walking over the hoods of parked cars to get to a fire hose that they were using as a watering hole.

We were, of course, unable to single out any individuals for punishment. They were dying of thirst, and it was a three-hundred-degree-in-the-sunshine parking lot where we were waiting.

We got to the Capitol and walked around, bored by the tour guide, and found the one entertaining fact about the Texas Capitol Building. Governor Hogg once had two daughters named Ima and Ura. Their pictures hang in an upstairs display case. Kids laughed and called them “pendejos”. Even the white kids.

Then, the way home took an additional seven hours. All of the coaches fell asleep on the way home, and I was the only teacher awake and standing between unpopular nerds and death by de-pantsing. I was told that somewhere in the middle of the writhing masses of eighth grade arms and legs and ultra-loud voices, a shy kid the teachers all liked lost his virginity to one of the more sexually aggressive girls while the other kids close enough to see in the general darkness watched. Was it true? When he got asked in the classroom, he just grinned.

I remember a lot of “Oops!” School Stories happening on field trips. I went on more than twenty of the big trips like that one, and I only remember a handful that went smoothly. But this one stands out in my memory because it was the first. And first experiences set the standard the rest are judged by. And I tell you this because, this time of year, if things were still like they used to be, and there was no pandemic, field trips to hell like that one would be going on for first-year teachers.

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Filed under autobiography, education, humor, kids, Paffooney, teaching, Texas

He Rose on a Golden Wing… Canto 3

Beethoven – Sonata No.1 in F Minor, Op.2 No.1 

Getting to school and back by bus every day was tough.  Especially when you are feeling rather down and blue.  Now that she was a senior in high school, she no longer had Danny Murphy to sit with on the bus.  Mary Phillips and Pidney Breslow had graduated four years ago and were in college now, soon to graduate from Iowa State University.  Danny had graduated from high school last year, and had told her during that summer that he and Carla Bates would be getting married in the near future.  Well, maybe not as near as anticipated since they still hadn’t picked a date.  But no more Danny on the bus to tell her jokes or drive her home from Belle City High in that incredibly old 1950s car he inherited from his Grampy.

She sat alone in the far back of the bus now.  Every day.  The bus ride to Norwall seemed endless, even though it was only ten miles as the crow flies… a really slow crow named Joe with half of his tail feathers missing.  But on this day, Dilsey Murphy, Danny’s younger sister, moved to the back as soon as she got on the bus.  She was wearing that old purple Carl Eller jersey, number 81 from the Minnesota Vikings of the 70s.

“Um, Valerie… do you mind if I sit with you on the way home today?”

“I may be kinda grumpy company.  But sure.”

Maybe the younger girl could lighten the mood for her.  But, then again… probably not.

Dilsey had straight black hair which she sometimes wore with a barrette on the right side of her bangs because her mother’s fashion sense reeked of the 1960s.  Otherwise, ignoring the hair and the barrette, Dilsey was dressed like a boy.  Vikings’ jersey, denim pants, and boys’ sneakers.

“Um, Val, I have a favor to ask.”

Oh, boy.  Here it comes.  The real reason.

“Please don’t be mad at me, but…”

“It’s all right.  I promise not to bite… at least, not very hard.”

“Yeah, um… you know Mrs. Patricia Zeffer?”

“Ray’s mom.  Of course, I know her.”

“Well, I normally babysit for her on Saturdays when she needs to go out.  But this week I can’t…”

“Mrs. Zeffer has a kid that needs babysitting services?  She has a kid that young?”

“Well, yes… it’s her grandson, actually.”

“Oh, of course.  But why is little Troy living with her now?”

“Uh, well…  You know that family has a bit of trouble since…”

“Since Ray disappeared six years ago.”

“Yeah.  I’m sorry.  I wouldn’t be asking, but…  I have a date on Saturday.”

“You do?  But you’re only…”

“Almost sixteen, and a sophomore in high school.”

“Sure.  I wasn’t trying to insult you or anything, but your mother…”

“Trusts me more than she ever did Danny.”

“Of course, she does.”

“Aren’t you going to ask who the date is with?”

She didn’t really, exactly… well, care.  But…

“So, who?”

“Tim.”

“No!  You have gotta be kidding me!  Tim the Terror?  Dim Tim?  Rim-tin-Tim?  The stinkilicious leader of the Norwall Pirates?”

Dilsey giggled awkwardly.  “I’ll have to remember those names.  They may prove very useful.”

“Why would an otherwise, very pretty girl waste her time with Tiny Terrible Tim?  He’s my cousin, and one of the grossest human beans in all of Iowa.  In fact… all of the Midwest.”

“You know he is a good person at heart.  He’s only an   icky boy on the outside.  Inside he’s…”

“Only icky ninety-nine percent of the time.  I do know my own cousin.”

Dilsey laughed a little more easily this time.  Of course, Val wasn’t entirely sure she was joking.  The brat could really get on your nerves sometimes.

“But… you don’t really think that…”

“That you shouldn’t be dating him?  The girl who once told him that he was the worst, most two-faced person she ever met?”

Dilsey’s face was suddenly crestfallen.  She looked like her whole positive little self was being crushed and was about to crumble into a weepy pile.

“You think it’s a mistake if I think I might be falling in love with him?”

“A boy who is a year younger than you are?  One who is way less mature than you are?  Way meaner too?”

Tears were forming in Dilsey’s dark eyes.  Valerie had gone too far.  Who was the meaner cousin now?

“I’m sorry.  I shouldn’t have said any of that.  I have been feeling outa sorts and kinda depressed for a while now.  I didn’t mean to take it out on you or Tim either.  Forgive me?”

“You’ll take the babysitting job for me?”

“Of course.  Little Troy Zeffer?  He’s such a little cutie.”

“Do you really think it’s something a normal human being would do to like Tim and go see a movie with him?  He wants to watch Mrs. Doubtfire with me.”

“With Robin Williams in it?”

“Yeah.  The Murphy family wants to see it together too, so, if I go with Tim, I’ll be watching it twice, probably in the same weekend.”

Val chuckled softly.  “That sounds good.  You make sure you tell Tim I am taking this sitting job for you to be able to go with him, so he owes me.  And if he tries to sneak-kiss you, hit him in the nose really hard.”

Dilsey laughed.  Val knew she intimidated the younger girl.  Dilsey had never been a cheerleader.  Never been the leader of the Norwall Pirates.  And never lost a boyfriend before.  And Val envied her those things.

“Valerie?  Do you need to be alone in this back seat every day on the bus ride home?”

“Are you offering to sit with me regularly?”

“Yes.  Especially now that Tim is on the basketball team and has practice every afternoon.”

That was right.  Now that Valerie had given up cheerleading, there was no longer any reason to stay in Belle City after school, and no reason to ride the late bus.

“I had thought I wanted to sit alone this year, without Danny here to entertain me.  But I think sitting with his sister will be just about the perfect thing to take the place of that.”

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Filed under battling depression, humor, kids, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney

What Makes a Child Beautiful?

Living the life you were born to live makes you beautiful.
Being happy and positive makes you beautiful.
Differences accepted and even celebrated are beautiful.
Living close to nature makes you beautiful.
Accepting yourself for what you are makes you beautiful.
Expressing yourself by dancing makes you beautiful, even if you are a terrible dancer.
Carrying your girlfriend’s books at school makes you beautiful.

Having a big imagination makes you beautiful.

Loving others makes you beautiful.

Working through your fears and sadness makes you beautiful.

Being intelligent and motivated to use it makes you beautiful.
Realizing everybody else is beautiful too makes you beautiful.
Being a really old and foolish child can make you beautiful too, if you don’t spoil it by being all ugly and stuff.

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Filed under artwork, Celebration, humor, illustrations, kids, Paffooney

Really Bad Jokes

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If you have the bad habit of reading this particular blog more than once, then you are probably aware that I used to be a public school teacher.  Even worse, I used to be a middle school English teacher.  Aagh!  Seventh graders!  It explains a lot about how life has warped my intelligence, personality, and world view.  It also explains somewhat where I found such a fountain-like source for some of the worst jokes you ever heard.

Now, as to the question of why I have chosen in my retirement early-onset senility to become a humor-blogger… well, that is simply not something I can answer in one post… or even a thousand.  But kids are the source of my goofball clown-brain joking around.

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Kid-humor, you see, is stunted and warped in weird ways by the time period you are talking about.  The eighties, nineties, two thousands, and the tens are all very different.  And those are the various sets of students that I attempted to learn moose bowling from by teaching them English.

Still, there are certain universal constants.

Potty humor really kills.  If you want to make a thirteen-year-old crack up with laughter, roll around on the floor, and maybe wet his or her pants, then you only need to work the “poop” word, or the “nickname for Richard” word, or the “Biblical word for donkey” word into the conversation.  Of course the actual words, even though we all know what they actually are, are magical words.  If you actually say them to kids in school as their teacher, those words can actually make you magically and permanently disappear from the front of the classroom.  All kids are big fans of George Carlin and his seven words, even though most of them have never heard of him.

And violent humor is popular with kids from all decades.  The most common punch line in the boys’ bathroom is, “… and then he kicked him in the Biblical word for donkey!” followed closely in second place by, “… and then she kicked him in the Biblical word for donkey!”  I am told (for I don’t actually go in such scary places myself) that in the girls’ bathroom the most popular punch line is, “…so I kicked him right in the soccer balls, and he deserved it!”   Why girls are apparently obsessed with soccer, I don’t know… or particularly care.sweet-thing

So my education in humor began with bad-word jokes, slapstick humor, put-downs, and rude noises coming from unfortunate places.  Humor in the classroom is actually a metaphorical mine field laced with tiger traps, dead-falls that end with an anvil hitting you on the head, or being challenged to a life-or-death game of moose bowling.  (Don’t know what moose bowling is?  Moose bowling is a very difficult game that, in order to knock down all the pins and win, you have to learn to roll a moose down the alley.)  Sounds like I spend too much time watching cartoons and playing video games, doesn’t it?  Well, there’s more.  And it gets worse from here.  But I will spare you that until the next time I am foolish enough to try making excuses for my really bad jokes.

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Filed under autobiography, humor, irony, kids, satire, strange and wonderful ideas about life, teaching, word games, wordplay, writing humor

Hello, Good Morning, Welcome to My Classroom

A critical teacher-skill is welcoming students as they enter your class each day. According to instructional leaders and classroom-management experts, you should stand in the doorway, greet them with a big idiot’s grin on your face, call them by name, if you can, and shake their hands if you can, pulling them into your classroom as if they are certainly doomed to be there even if they accidentally walked into the wrong classroom. I realize now that I am retired, how much I miss that ritual.

“Good morning, Sasha. How nice to see you this wonderful day.”

“Hi, Mr. B. Are we going to learn anything today?”

“Of course we are! Wonderful things! You are going to learn the most important lesson of your life today.”

“What lesson is that?”

“That we need to learn something each and every day.”

“Oh, great… yeah.”

“Ola, El Gongie, kay-paw-so, my dude!”

“Ay, vato… remember, you gotta address me like the OG I am. If I gotta respect you, you gotta show proper respect for me and my reputation, dude.”

“Oh, sorry. I thought that’s what I was doing. What did I get wrong?”

“Nothing, my dude. I am jes messin’ wit you. Gotta remind you to do it right.”

“Marissa, good morning! So nice to see you and your smiling face.”

“Don’t talk to me, Beyer. I’m mad at you right now.”

“Oh? What did I do now?”

“You didn’t do anything, but I’m not talking to you today.”

“So, you’ll yell at me about something later?”

“Yeah. But I won’t yell. I just need to talk to you… later.”

“Okay, right after class, just stay put when the bell rings.”

“In front of your next class?”

“No, they can wait outside the door for a minute or two.”


“Ruben! Good morning!”

“Hello, Mr. B. I read that book you lended me yesterday.”

“All in one evening?”

“It was only 200 pages. I read five times that in a week.”

“Well, that’s good. What did you think?”

“It was awful. No way it shoulda ended the way it did. It made me laugh, it made me cry, and then I reached the last ten pages, and I almost threw it out the window. Except I still had to read the last nine pages.”

“So, you didn’t like the book?”

“I loved it. It’s now my new favorite book!”

Now that I am retired and can’t even substitute teach anynore, I don’t have that excitement of greeting them and never knowing what I’m going to get in return. But i am saying hello to everyone I meet on the walking path. And sometimes I get an answer.

“Hey, I like your beard! You really need to be wearing a red hat this time of year.”

“Oh, I know… I get confused with him all the time around Christmas. And I don’t even own any flying reindeer.”

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Filed under humor, kids, Paffooney, self portrait, teaching

A Mr. Holland Moment

Life is making music.  We hum, we sing to ourselves, movie music plays in our head as the soundtrack to our daily life. At least, it does if we stop for a moment and dare to listen.   We make music in many different ways.  Some play guitar.  Some are piano players.  And some of us are only player pianos.  Some of us make music by writing a themed paragraph like this one.  Others make an engine sing in the automotive shop.  Still others plant gardens and make flowers or tomatoes grow.  I chose teaching kids to read and write.  The music still swells in my ears four years after retiring.

The 1995 movie, Mr. Holland’s Opus, is about a musician who thinks he is going to write a magnificent classical orchestra opus while teaching music at a public high school to bring in money and allow him time to compose and be with his young wife as they start a new family.

But teaching is not, of course, what he thought it was.  He has to learn the hard way that it is not an easy thing to open up the closed little clam shells that are the minds of students and put music in.  You have to learn who they are as people first.  You have to learn to care about what goes on in their lives, and how the world around them makes them feel… and react to what you have to teach.  Mr. Holland has to learn to pull them into music appreciation using rock and roll and music they like to listen to, teaching them to understand the sparkles and beats and elements that make it up and can be found in all music throughout their lives.  They can even begin to find those things in classical music, and appreciate why it has taken hold of our attention for centuries.

And teaching is not easy.  You have to make sacrifices.  Big dreams, such as a magnum opus called “An American Symphony”, have to be put on the shelf until later.  You have children, and you find that parenting isn’t easy either.  Mr. Holland’s son is deaf and can never actually hear the music that his father writes from the center of his soul.  And the issue of the importance of what you have to teach becomes something you have to fight for.  Budget cuts and lack of funding cripples teachers in every field, especially if you teach the arts.  Principals don’t often appreciate the value of the life lessons you have to give.  Being in high school band doesn’t get you a high paying job later.

But in the end, at the climax of the movie, the students all come back to honor Mr. Holland.  They provide a public performance of his magnum opus, his life’s work.  And the movie ends with a feeling that it was all worth it, because what he built was eternal, and will be there long after the last note of his music is completely forgotten.  It is in the lives and loves and memories of his students, and they will pass it on.

But this post isn’t a movie review.  This post is about my movie, my music.  I was a teacher in the same way Mr. Holland was.  I learned the same lessons about being a teacher as he did.  I had the same struggles to learn to reach kids.  And my Mr. Holland moment wasn’t anywhere near as big and as loud as Mr. Holland’s.  His was performed on a stage in front of the whole school and alumni.  His won Richard Dreyfus an Academy Award for Best Actor.  But his was only fictional.

Mine was real.  It happened in a portable building on the Naaman Forest High School campus.  The students and the teacher in the classroom next door threw a surprise party for me.  They made a lot of food to share, almost all of which I couldn’t eat because of diabetes.  And they told me how much they would miss me, and that they would never forget me.  And I had promised myself I would never cry about having to retire.  But I broke my promise.  In fact, I am crying now four years later.  But they are not tears of sadness.  My masterwork has now reached its last, bitter-sweet notes.  The crescendos have all faded.  But the music of our lives will still keep playing.  And not even death can silence it completely.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, commentary, happiness, insight, kids, movie review, teaching

I Hope You Dance…

When you walk to the front of the classroom and take up the big pencil in front of a group of young teens and twelve-year-olds, there is a strong pressure to learn how to sing and dance. That, of course, is a metaphor. I was always too arthritic and clunky in my movements to literally dance. But I looked out over a sea of bored and malevolence-filled eyes, slack and sometimes drooling mouths attached to hormone-fueled and creatively evil minds. And I was being paid to put ideas in their heads. Specifically boring and difficult ideas that none of them really wanted in their own personal heads. So I felt the need to learn to dance, to teach in ways that were engaging like good dance tunes, and entertaining in ways that made them want to take action, to metaphorically get up and dance along with me.

I wanted them to enjoy learning the way I did.

But the music of the teacher is not always compatible with the dance style of the individual learner. The secret behind that is, there is absolutely no way to prompt them to dance along with you until you learn about the music already playing in their stupid little heads. (And you can’t, of course ever use the word “stupid” out loud, no matter how funny or true the word is,) You have to get to know a kid before you can teach them anything.

The discordant melodies and bizarre tunes you encounter when you talk to them is like dancing in a minefield blindfolded. Some don’t have enough to eat at home and have to survive off of the nutrition-less food they get in the school cafeteria’s free-and-reduced lunch program. Some of them have never heard a single positive thing from the adults at home, enduring only endless criticism, insults, and sometimes fists. Some of them fall in love with you. Some due to hormones. Some due to the fact that you treat them like a real human being. Some because they just stupidly assume that everyone dances to the same tunes they hear in their own personal head.

Some of them automatically hate you because they know that if you hear their own secret music in their own self-loathing heads, you will never accept it. They hate you because you are a teacher and teachers always hate them. Some of them, deep down, are as loathsome as they think they are.

But, if you find the right music, you can get any of them, even all of them, to dance. It might be hard to find. It might be a nearly impossible task to learn to play that music once you find it. But it can be done.

And if you get them to dance to your music, to dance along with you, I can’t think of anything more rewarding, anything more life-fulfilling. Have you ever tried it for yourself? If you are not a teacher, how about with your own children or the children related to you? Everybody should learn to dance this dance I am talking about in metaphors. At least once in your life. It is addictive. You will want to dance more. So the next time the music starts and you get the chance… I hope you’ll dance!

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Filed under commentary, education, kids, metaphor, Paffooney, teaching

Classroom Clownery (Not to be confused with Sean Clownery… He’s James Blond)

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See Dick?

See Jane?

See Sally?

See Dick run?

See Jane run?

See Sally…?   Wait a minute!  Why don’t I remember Sally?

Did Dick forget to feed Spot and Spot was forced to kill and eat Sally?

No…  I had Dick and Jane books in Kiddy-garter and they did have Sally in them.  And Spot never killed anyone.  But with all the running she did, Sally did not do anything memorable.  If my teacher, Miss Ketchum, had told the Spot eats Sally story, I’m sure I would’ve remembered Sally better and learned to read faster.

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But I actually did learn to read faster because there was a Cat in the Hat, and a Yertle the Turtle, and because Horton the elephant heard a Who, and a Grinch stole Christmas.  Yes, humor is what always did it for me in the classroom.  Dr. Seuss taught me to read.  Miss Mennenga taught me to read out loud.  And in seventh grade, Mr. Hickman taught me to appreciate really really terrible jokes.    And those are the people who twisted my arm… er, actually my brain… enough to make me be a teacher who taught by making things funny.  There were kids who really loved me, and principals who really hated me.  But I had students come back to me years later and say… “I don’t remember anything at all from my classes in junior high except when you read The Outsiders out loud and did all those voices, and played the Greek myth game where we had to kill the giants with magic arrows, and the stupid jokes you told.”  High praise indeed!

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I think that teaching kids to laugh in the classroom was a big part of teaching them how to use the language and how to think critically.    You find what’s funny in what you learn, and you have accidentally examined it carefully… and probably etched it on the stone part of your brain more memorably than any other way you could do it.  And once it’s etched in stone, you’re not getting that out again any time soon.

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Humor makes you look at things from another point of view, if for no other reason, then simply because you are trying to make somebody laugh.  For instance, do you wonder like I do why the Cat in the Hat is trying to pluck the wig off of Yelling Yolanda who is perched on the back of yellow yawning yak?  I bet you can’t look at those two pictures positioned like that and not see what I am talking about.  Of course, I am not betting money on it.  I am simply talking Iowegian… a totally different post.

But the point is, humor and learning go hand in hand.  It takes intelligence to get the joke.  Joking makes you smarter.  And that is why the class clowns in the past… the good and funny ones… not the stupid and clueless ones… were always my favorite students.

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Filed under clowns, goofiness, high school, humor, irony, kids, philosophy, teaching, word games

Why My Kids Are Always Embarrassed

Yes, I admit it. I am a goofy old coot and an embarrassment to my children.

That’s my role in life now. Eye rolls abound when I am around.

There are several reasons why, which I intend to list here in detail in order to embarrass my children further. But it basically boils down to the fact that I am a writer, and though I write mostly fiction, another way of saying I lie a lot, a real writer tends to reveal more of the naked truth about himself than a child can stand.

Who wants to see their father naked? Especially when he is old… wrinkled, spotty, and mostly fish-belly white.

Speaking of nakedness, one of the things that my children are most embarrassed about is the fact that I know a lot about nudists and naturists, in fact, I know many real nudists, and I have been nude in at least one social situation with other naked nudists. And, even worse, I admit it in writing where my children and their friends can see it. Of course, none of them read this blog anymore for that reason.

I have written novels where there are nudist characters based on some of the real nudists I have known. The novels with nudist characters in them so far are, Recipes for Gingerbread Children, The Baby Werewolf, Superchicken, The Boy… Forever, and A Field Guide to Fauns. And these novels might not embarrass them so much if they read them to discover that the novels have something to say that really isn’t about their father being a crazy naked coot. But they won’t read them because I am embarrassing to them.

And there is the verified fact that I am something of a conspiracy theorist. I firmly believe that the actor/theater owner William Shakespeare only offered his name to the real writer of Shakespeare’s plays and poetry, the 17th Earl of Oxford, Edward DeVere. There is actual evidence that is so, though it was a secret that DeVere took to his pauper’s grave after spending away his entire family estates and fortune. A pauper’s grave that no interested scholar can find the location of to this very day, although maybe he’s buried in the same place of honor as the actor/theater owner, as there are cryptic clues to that as well.

I also believe that Dwight Eisenhower met with alien civilizations in the 1950s and the Roswell Incident was a real crash of more than one spacecraft from other star systems. There exist real deathbed confessions that confirm those details, and the government has been covering up the facts for decades.

The conspiracy-theory skills I have as a crazy, embarrassing coot have resulted in books like Catch a Falling Star, Stardusters and Space Lizards, and the Bicycle-Wheel Genius.

And lastly, I was a school teacher in middle schools and high schools for thirty-one years, which means I can create kid-characters in fiction that are very realistic and have a good-but-comic quality that make readers generally like my stories.

So, my children are probably right to be seriously embarrassed by my very existence. Of course, I, like all old coots registered with the Crazy, Embarrassing Coots of America, the CECA, am totally immune to being embarrassed by the embarrassment of my children.

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Filed under aliens, angry rant, autobiography, conspiracy theory, humor, kids, novel writing, nudes, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life, William Shakespeare