yo ho a teacher's life for me

Taking the Piss

That’s a phrase I learned when I visited Europe. We don’t say that here, but I’ve enjoyed it since I first heard it (like a great deal of other European phraseology). Anyway, I’ve learned recently that a fantastic way to brighten my day is to have a few private laughs entirely of my own.

As a second grade teacher, temporary as that may be, the possibilities in this department are seemingly endless. I’ll give you an example from just the other day:

My sister (who teaches the 5th grade in the same school I teach at) told her class of boys a ghost story from our childhood in which we saw the ghost of a dead girl who had been killed by her mother decades previously and buried in the walls of our house, which later burned to the ground. True story as a matter of fact. But that’s beside the point. One of the boys in her class has a brother in my class, and he apparently told him the whole story, which led the kid in my class to drop hints about the creepy youthful life of their second grade teacher.

What immediately followed were pleas from my whole class to have the story recounted to them first hand. However, knowing that Halloween was fast approaching, I held off, building the mystery as the weeks dragged by.

So of course on halloween, midway through our sugar-rush-inducing party, someone pipes up – Miss Ratajczak, you haaaaaave tot ell us about the ghost you saw when you were a kid! C’mon, you prooooomised! – to which I could only grin maliciously and ask for silence in which to tell my story.

Bear in mind it’s daylight now, and the kids have hours yet to go before life is dark and creepy, and also that loads of kids are talking throughout, so I’m not sure how this could be creepy at all. Plus I told it so obviously in an overly dramatized and completely unbelievable sort of way, despite it being a true story…

Long and short of it is that they believed me, and came back to school the following monday telling me how terrifying their whole weekend had been because of it! I secretly crossed my fingers and prayed that they hadn’t told their parents that I’d told them a ghost story, since I’d had major complaints before when I’d read a kid-thriller goosebumps style to them once.

(In my mind I’d vowed never again to scare them enough to have them tell their parents anything, but just this once I’d let my insane need for some humour in my life get the best of me.)

At the end of the day, I’d convinced them that the story was a joke and that they shouldn’t be afraid because there was nothing to it. I don’t know that they really believed me, but it shut them up long enough to forget to tell their parents.



Another blissful and perhaps even more satisfying moment in the recent past came in the form of three gullible little girls.

There’s a set of twins in my class, identical of course. Of all the girls they really take the cake for grinding my gears the most. They’re snobby, pretentious, lazy, permanently tardy, and dull as so many bricks. This may seem harsh, but let me assure you that it’s not. I love the kids I teach, even these two, but believe me in this description of them. Anyway, one day one of these girls brought in a tube of chapstick, presumably given her by her mother.

Whenever an assignment was handed out or a lesson began, this girl would rummage around in her desk, procrastinating as always, and then proceed to put layer upon layer of chapstick on her already well waxed lips. Not only was her procrastination a great source of frustration for me, as per usual, but for inexplicable reasons the over-application of chapstick has always been a pet peeve of mine. (Don’t ask. Just don’t.)

So I would tell her to put it away and she would hide it, roll her eyes, and give me snarky impetuous replies one after the next. I told her that the next time I saw it I was going to take it away and she wouldn’t give it back. This, of course, didn’t even slightly dissuade her from over applying the damn chapstick, it was just incentive for her to find inventive ways of sneakily putting it on so that I couldn’t see.

The girl who sits behind her is a bossy little know-it-all, but her personality on this one occasion came into great service.

Bossy girl comes up to my desk and tells me that Chapstick Girl has once again been sitting there doing nothing but applying chapstick for the past five minutes. So I walk up to her desk and kneel down in front of it, and put my elbows on the desk and wait patiently until the inevitable time in which she has to turn back around to face forward in her seat. As each kid in the class sees what I’m doing they one at a time stop talking and stop moving and stare at me expectantly, fully aware that Chapstick Girl had no idea I was there.

It took about a minute and a half of sitting there before she realised that the whole room had gone quiet and was looking in one place – right behind her. Fortunately in this time I’d come up with a beautiful line to make her stop. Hopefully. I mean I didn’t put that much thought into it, but the thought struck me and I couldn’t refuse.

As she turned to face me I brought my face close to hers and said very quietly and clearly – Chapstick Girl*, did you know that if you put on too much chapstick, since chapstick is made out of wax, your lips end up absorbing it and then they start to turn to wax. And once they’re wax, they can’t be part of your body, so then they just fall off. 

Sadistic, I know. Sometimes I can’t help myself.

She didn’t put on chapstick for hours, but then she started doing it again later. I didn’t have to say anything though, because Bossy Girl from right behind came up to me with a Miss Rataaaajczak, Chapstick Girl won’t stop putting on lipbalm and her lips are already turning to wax and they’re gonna fall off soon but she won’t stop and it’s really nasty! 

Ha! Well, at least I’d gotten one of them. As she said this to me though, Chapstick Girl came up and gave us a glare and kept walking. As she galloped by on her high horse it was quite clear that her lips were very, very red from the lipbalm she seemed not to be able to live without. Bossy Girl quickly turns to me and nearly shouts MISS RATAAAAJCZAK HER LIPS ARE TURNING RED I THINK THAT’S A SIGN OF TURNING TO WAX!!!

I of course stare at her wide eyed, surprised that she would extrapolate such a far reaching supposition, and say My God, you’re right! Redder lips are the first sign of turning into wax and about to fall off! How did you know that?! 

Sadistic, I know, I know.

I just couldn’t resist.

Of course this exchange was overheard by Chapstick Girl, who promptly went and hid behind a bookcase so she wouldn’t be seen with falling-off lips. This time she really believed me.

Turns out however, that she really believed me and that a tear or two were shed in the process of convincing her that her lips would not in fact fall off. Her sister berated me cruelly for the prank on her poor innocent sister, but perhaps I deserved it.

And perhaps I shouldn’t have been so adamant about the lips not in fact falling off, because the next day, both twins come in with two tubes of chapstick and a tube of lipgloss. Each.

Yeah. Lovely.


Note: Names in this post have been changed slightly for the sake of preserving the safety of the children. Priorities. I have them.

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