Three Vulgarisms

Part the First

At the Earth Day Bake Sale during lunch today, I'm trying (largely in vain) to get students to watch The Story of Stuff, which is being projected on the wall in the same room.  We're allowed to dress down if we're wearing green, and I notice one girl in a kelly-green shirt from an Irish pub.  On the back, in thick uncials, are the words Pogue Ma Thoin.  I'm not exactly conversational in Gaelic, but thanks to this band and their album of the same name, I'm familiar with the phrase.

I approach her discreetly and ask where she got the shirt.  At the beach, she says.

"Do you know what that means?" I ask pointedly.  She says she does.  (I'm not sure she does, but I'll bet she does now.)

"Well, I think it's pretty inappropriate to wear to school," I say in my best Teacher Voice.

She flounders.  "I -- we were supposed to wear green and -- sor-RY!"

I never know if I'm handling these things right.  But I can't stand to think that this student's going to go around thinking she pulled one over on all of us.

Part the Second

We're on day two of The Kite Runner, discussing a moment of anagnorisis between two key characters.  I decide it would be a good idea to have two students read the characters' lines as the dialogue grows more heated.  Two volunteers begin to read; scanning ahead, I notice a profanity in the next paragraph.  Oops.

The reader sails through without a hitch.  Good for you!  I think.  Then, a few paragraphs later, there's a whole string of them.  It's too late to do anything.  Here they come . . .

To their credit, the class doesn't bat an eyelash, at least, not from what I can see out of the corner of the eye I won't raise to look at them directly.  I begin furtively reading ahead, and soon notice one word I just can't allow this poor girl to say in my presence.  "Thanks, both of you!"  I say, interrupting them.  "I think that gave us a great feel for the scene.  Now, let's talk about the motivations of Rahim Khan's blah blah blah . . . "

Part the Third

Josiah, aged eleven, is working on a particularly difficult passage in his newest piece.  To keep him motivated, I pull out the Big Guns: a box of tiny rubber animals from which I never remove more than a few at a time.  This keeps the students completely on edge as to WHAT THEY ALL LOOK LIKE?!?!

As he plays each repetition, I add another animal to the parade, and he announces it.  "A tiger! . . . an elephant . . . a goldfish."

I set a cute little donkey at the end of the line.  "Oh," he says, a mischevious gleam in his eye.  "An ass."

I can't fault him for that, so I laugh with him instead.