Friday, December 18, 2020

The Official Stocking Stuffer of 2020

“This post brought to you by Air Wick, all thoughts & opinions are my own”

For Thanksgiving a few years ago, all six kids and I loaded up my minivan and Savannah's car and we headed over the (Ohio) river and through the woods Indiana windmill farms to grandmother's house (or rather a hotel near grandmother's house because really, we are a big noisy bunch and when I moved out many years ago, my parents locked the door behind me and hired a bouncer to keep me out.) But really, there were a bunch of us and everyone thought it might be better if we stayed in a hotel. At the time, my ex worked for a hotel and was able to get us rooms. A lot of rooms. Savannah had a room, Austin and Codi had a room, Jackson and Clayton had a room, Lexi and Brooklyn had a room, and I had a room.

Whenever we go home to Chicago, we have a list of places we absolutely must visit. This list is mainly restaurants. Lou Malnati's, Rosati's, Portillo's, and Jarosch top everyone's list. But one place that's only on my kids' lists is White Castle. I personally think the only reason to eat at White Castle is because you're 21, partied a bit too much, it's 3:00am, and it's the only place open. Ahem. But my kids love those little sliders.

When your kids get not one, but two cases of burgers filled with grilled onions, something diabolical happens to their digestive systems.

So after that little pit stop, we arrive at the hotel. Savannah tosses her suitcase in her room and takes off to meet friends. As we unpack the car and settle in, one by one, the kids start announcing the inevitable. "I have to poop."

(Side note: did you know that I mention "poop" in 80 blog posts? EIGHTY! I actually searched. This is what happens when you have kids. Poop happens! A lot!)

So, the litany of "I have to poop" starts. My response, as always, is, "So go. And you don't need to announce it."

"But I don't want to stink up the hotel room."

"Maybe you should've considered that before getting 60 cheeseburgers."

"I know! I'll use Savannah's room!"

My son grabbed the spare key for Savannah's room and took off for her bathroom.

This is how the visit went. Anytime someone needed to poop, they used Savannah's bathroom because she was out with friends more than she was in the hotel. 

No problem. Until Savannah got back and realized she had no toilet paper, on top of the fact that her room smelled like the elephant habitat at Brookfield Zoo. She was not happy.

To this day, when one of the kids has to poop, they sometimes announce, "I need to go to Savannah's room," despite the fact that Savannah hasn't lived with us for 4 1/2 years. I bet Savannah's thrilled that "Savannah's room" is code for the bathroom.

But Air Wick has a product that will make life SO MUCH SWEETER especially when you're staying in a little hotel room or as a guest in someone's house! Or on an airplane or a train! Or at work! Or at your own home. Okay, basically everywhere! It's V.I.P Pre-Poop Spray. The spray is scented with spectacular smelling essential oils like lavender, lemon, and rose. It comes in a little bottle so it's easy to toss in your purse, spray before you ‘go’, and voilĂ , smelly odor embarrassment syndrome avoided. And each little bottle packs 100 uses of impressive stink-banishing power!

V.I.P spray now resides in both of my bathrooms. My kids like to decipher the acronym, V.I.P. Very Important Pooper, Very Intense Poop, that poop made a Very Interesting Plop, Virulently Insalubrious Poop . . . . Hey, it's the pandemic; I don't judge their entertainment these days.

Here's a pro-tip from me to you: You need this V.I.P. spray for the holidays, especially if you're going to visit family, or if you're having family over. I know most of us are avoiding gatherings this year, but the people you live with/your immediate family will thank you for supplying your bathrooms with this spray also! Just add it to your Walmart grocery pick-up order (which may be the greatest invention ever) and you're set! Bonus pro-tip:  You want to permanently ban White Castle and chili dogs from any and all road trips henceforth. Trust me on this.

I've dubbed this Air Wick V.I.P. spray the elf-approved, official stocking stuffer of 2020 because somehow poop and 2020 go hand-in-hand, don'tcha think?

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

I Work in a Middle School. Yes, it's on Purpose!

When I tell people I work in a middle school, they respond with one of the following:

A. On purpose?  this is from most sane people who think I'm insane

B.  Bless your heart!  this is from well-meaning southerners who think I'm insane

C.  Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!  this is from parents of middle schoolers who know I'm insane

D.  Oh cool! What do you teach?  this is from other middle school teachers who are insane themselves

They look at me like, well, they look at me like one would look at someone who purposely chooses to work with hormonal, angsty, drama-filled tweens who leave an intoxicating miasma of BO and Axe in their wake. (Sidenote: masks are wonderful for blocking out those teen smells and I may continue to wear one long after Covid is under control!) 

Middle school kids like to whine that they're bored. Like all the time. They are so addicted to technology that when they have to put their phone away and do something as mundane as algebra, they lose their minds. It's like taking the drug-of-choice away from a hardcore addict. They will spend the next 50 minutes jonesing for a glance at their phones. Then they ask to go to the bathroom just so they can text their friend across campus who is also asking to go to the bathroom in order to get a hit of Snapchat like some strung-out junkie.

Middle school kids are So. Filled. With. Drama! "So&so liked the picture that so&so put on the 'gram and she's just so obvious about it and he doesn't even like her because he likes so&so, but I don't know why she even likes him to begin with; did you see his shoes today?!"

And as grown-up as they want to be, they're still kids who like to have those meaningful conversations with you about every. single. aspect of Minecraft until your mind goes numb.

Middle schoolers lack the part of the brain that tells you to stop and think before acting. So when they do some dumb thing like throw a pencil across the room, and you ask them why they did it, they will inevitably answer with an, "I dunno" accompanied by a shrug. And they literally don't know why they did it.

But they also know stuff. They know what's cool and what's not. Did you know that Crocs are cool now? Not only that, but the little Jibbitz charms that you got for your toddler's Crocs 18 years ago are also cool now. Who knew? Middle school kids knew, that's who!

Today I noticed that it looked like it was "snowing" on my student's computer. "How did you do that??" I asked. "That's so cool! What did you install to make it look like it's snowing?"

She looked at me like I was simple-minded and instructed, "You just click the snowman on your Launchpad." 

"Wait what?! Do I have that on my computer?!" I ran over to my desk and sure enough, I did! The student told me there's something different every month that you can click. How have I never noticed this, I wondered. Oh yeah, because I'm not a middle schooler. They know stuff.

But as crazy as they can be (and we all know they're crazy,) they're also pretty cool. Today a student drew a picture for me. She wasn't even one of my kids; she was just in my room for testing. And last week I was subbing in a class for a teacher who is in the hospital. This teacher is gravely ill (not Covid) so we had her students sign get-well cards for her. There was one girl who pulled a Polaroid print out of her purse. (Sidenote - I think of a Polaroid as an antiquated way to take pictures, but I'm clearly mistaken because middle schoolers think of it as a totally cool, retro way to snap pics, and as we previously discussed - they know stuff.) Anyway, she pulls out this picture of her, one other student, and the currently hospitalized teacher. "Miss, can I get some tape? I want to put this picture in the card. But first, can I please take out my phone for a minute so I can take a picture of this for myself?" 

Now how cool is that? To this student, that picture of her with one of her favorite teachers meant a lot. Just the fact that she wanted to have her picture taken with a teacher is cool! And the fact she was willing to give that prized photo away to this teacher in an effort to cheer her up is just pretty darn awesome. Something about this student's enthusiasm for her teacher just struck me, especially since this particular student is one of the ones who can be a pain in my butt. It really made me stop and think about what a difference teachers can make. Even if the teachers don't always entirely realize the scope of their influence, it's far-reaching. These kids form some pretty amazing bonds with them, and teachers have the unique opportunity to impact these kids' lives in dramatic ways.

So I guess that's why I work in a middle school. These kids can be pains in the butt and they can try my patience on a daily basis. But if I didn't work there, I wouldn't know I could pull off wearing Crocs to work, my computer wouldn't be "snowing," I wouldn't have a wall full of drawings, and I wouldn't have a new appreciation for this "pain-in-the-butt student who, as it turns out, has a soft spot in her heart for her favorite teachers.

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