I shudder when I think back to the teachers who used to scold us if we didn’t cough and sneeze into our cupped palms. We truly were walking, talking vector sites. These days, you’re supposed to cough and sneeze into your elbow. I tell the little kids to do it like Dracula. I’ll pretend I’m about to sneeze and, with a flourish, hide my face in my Dracula cloak and sneeze. Then, also with flourish, I’ll remove my face from my cloak and say, ” I vant to keep you healthy. Buwahaha!”
It’s stupid, but the 8 and under set think it’s funnier than poop. Almost.
The 2nd graders are a loving, well-behaved bunch. There are a few active ones, but even they respond very well to a pointed looked or soft admonishment. They acted out of character in library this week. It wasn’t terrible, per se, just loud. There was a group of boys who would not stop laughing, no matter what I said. “Quiet.” “Quiet please.” “Last warning, boys.” I was busy with the other kids so I wasn’t paying too much attention or being too strict. They’re little and sweet, and I want library to be fun. Then I paid attention to the laugh and my mom-radar went up.
Children have degrees of laughing. There is the giggle, where someone did something cute or there is a baby animal involved. There is general laugh, where they respond to something funny. There is the fake laugh, where they are trying to feel included, usually regarding adult humor. There is the guffaw, where something unexpected happens, or a cartoon character trips and falls on a thorny cactus. Then there is the naughty laugh.
The naughty laugh is one you hear when children see or do something they think (or know) they shouldn’t. The illustrator of the†Mercy Watson†series banks on this laugh. There is always a picture of Mercy running and the kids always break into hysterics at the sight of Mercy’s butt.
My mom-radar picked up the sound of a naughty laugh.
I looked up, and there they were: Greg, Peter, and Bobby (not real names) laughing naughtily. Greg had something in his hand which Peter found amusing. Bobby came running over to take another look, breaking into a loud laugh and scrunching up his nose.
It was the scrunched up nose, combined with the naughty laugh, that confirmed my suspicions.
“Okay, that’s enough. Greg, bring to me whatever you have in your hand, please.”
Poor Greg, Peter, and Bobby. They looked like they couldn’t decide if they wanted to burst into tears, empty their bowels in terror, or pass out–perhaps all three at once. They also looked like the last thing on earth they wanted me to see was what was in Greg’s hand.
Greg walked up and handed me an index card folded 72 times over. An origami champion couldn’t have folded a piece of paper as tight or as fast. I opened the paper up and saw a hand drawn picture of a butt pooping.
I coughed like Dracula to hide my laugh.
I had no idea what to say. My first thought was that, as far as pictures go, it was the worst picture of a butt pooping I had ever seen. I can’t say I have extensive knowledge on pooping butt art, but I do know a butt when I see one. And as a mom, I’m well versed in poop. This picture was sub-par, at best. It didn’t even look like a butt, and poop isn’t rectangular. If I had to describe this picture of a butt pooping, I would say it looked like a dragonfly made in Minecraft. Surely this wasn’t their best effort! This is what happens when you take art out of school.
“Well,” I said. “This is not a polite picture, is it? I’m going to have to show it to your teacher. Please sit down and read quietly until it’s time to go.” They shuffled back to their seats with hang-dog expressions. I coughed like Dracula again.
Aides make a fraction of what the teachers make, and teachers don’t make nearly enough in Catholic schools. Aides have to do most of the busy work the teachers don’t want to do, or don’t have time to do. But aides never have to deal with boys who draw pictures of butts pooping. I walked into 2nd grade and handed the picture to the teacher.
“Oh my,” she said. “This should be interesting.”
“Yup,” I said. I patted her on the shoulder and gave her my best smile. “Have fun!”