Monday, August 6, 2012

With a Little Help From My Kin

Today I went to ready my classroom for the upcoming school year. The company of my indentured servants was required. And wouldn't you know it, I learned something within the walls of that bastion of knowledge. My sons are the Alf and Ralph Monroe of classroom organization.

You would think that two strapping teenage boys (sorry, not saying which one is Ralph) would knock out brainless, menial tasks forthwith. But you would be wrong. Because they truly appeared to be completing their tasks brainlessly. It took twice the time I would have needed to do it myself, had I been two strapping teenage boys.

We had three goals. Make sure that all of my teacher property had been put back into MY room after the summer scouring and polishing. Rearrange the furniture to the floor plan that was in place when I walked out the door in May. Put out the two sets of textbooks, in number order, so they could be checked out to students in the most orderly manner.

The first goal was easy enough. All items but one were present and accounted for. First time ever! Not a component was missing, except for a mouse.

Accomplishing the second goal was like working one of those crazy plastic math puzzles with the sliding tiles. Move five things to make room for the one you need to set in place first.

I directed them, of course. But they are somewhat like their father, in that there is only one way to do things, which is their own way, not mine. The file cabinet, for example. Most people understand that a four-drawer file cabinet full of files is heavy. That it can't be carried. That it requires a hand truck, which around here we just call a dolly. Genius sent The Pony to acquire the dolly. Which he found in the closet right next to my room. And here's where we diverged in our plan.

I told Genius to have The Pony help him move the file cabinet away from the wall a few inches. They could have tilted it and "walked" it forward a bit. But no. Genius rammed the dolly under the side of the file cabinet, and tried to wheel it across the room to an adjoining wall. File Cabinet was having none of that. There was no room for his sharp, angular corners when the dolly wheels tried to change course. So Genius rammed File Cabinet forward and backward, trying to turn him all the while. Gouging and scraping the white-painted concrete-block wall that separates me from the classroom next door. The Pony and I watched in horrified fascination.

"Well. I suppose I will have to explain why there is a tunnel from my room to the Spanish room now. And in the future, please remind me not to ask you for help in re-stocking my china shop."

Goal Three was an exercise in inefficiency. Genius messed with the bookcase shelving, skewing the unskewed, then exposing my false bottom. I put The Pony in charge of shelving and stacking, and Genius in charge of dragging stacks of books out from the bottom of the wooden cabinets. They were somewhat in order. But I knew from experience that even if they were stacked numerically, taking them out gets books out of order. They have the numbers on the bottom of the pages. So they can be seen quickly in a stack. But nobody drags ten texts at a time out from the bottom shelf. Except Genius. Who then told The Pony, a teenager of younger years and less musculature, to shelve them. I feared a hernia in the making.

The Pony gamely hauled huge stacks to the shelves and to the line of extra desks along the new wall tunnel area. He put them in proper order. They were already in piles of tens, twenties, thirties, etc. Up to the eighties. He got ahead of Genius. And then I saw the problem. Genius was crawling back into the depths of the bottom cabinet area, stacking books in numerical order before taking them out. When it would have been so simple to set out a stack, and let The Pony order them as he re-stacked. Because Genius is all about doing things the only way he can imagine them done.

I was glad to have the help, though. Even when Genius carried my roll of black paper that I use for blocking the front window when winter nears, so students can see my projector screen without sunny glare. Had he asked for my guidance, I might have suggested cradling it like a baby, or pinching it between thumb and forefinger to hold the roll while bringing it to the back corner by my desk for safekeeping. Rather than shoving an arm in the middle of the roll, then whipping it around while shouting, "Wee! Wee! Wee!" like Maxwell, the Geico pig. Resulting in a totally unrolled roll of black paper.

I'm going to miss him next year. In so many ways.


  1. Kids--what are you gonna do? They'll learn to do things the easy way, someday.

  2. I can tell, Genius is Hick's son and Pony is your son. Love them both the same, I'm sure , but......

  3. Yes, kids are helpful when they're younger, but then they get older, and then they border on more of a hindrance than assistance.

    And what's really sad is if Hick had been there as well, there probably would have been times when you could not have told the difference between the antics of The Genius and the shenanigans of Hick.

  4. I belive this is all so you won't bother them in future. Highly unlikey. It's your job.

  5. Stephen,
    Yet they're all about the shortcuts with the Queen's English. C U L8TR.

    So observant. Genius has Hick's outgoing personality and mechanical aptitude. but my sense of humor. The Pony has my introverted personality and empathy, but Hick's literal way of looking at things.

    Hick's method of giving directions is to repeat them, only louder, each time someone asks for clarification.

    I would attribute it to the "Do it wrong so she won't ask again" school of Mom-helping. Except for the puzzled looks when I finally made them see the errors of their ways. They're not THAT good at acting.