ballsonthebars

Today’s class of feity fives gave me the hives. Maybe it’s because it’s the LONGEST week in the world, but at the end of class, I felt my face flush. I had spent the entire 50 minutes feeling as if we were all on our tippy toes, on the edge of a very small ledge.

Mark ran up to me right as we entered the music room and said, “Can I sing for the class?”. “Okay”, I said. And he did… well, actually he danced…for five seconds…and then ran away. But this triggered a line of others who called out that they “had a dance, too”… or “a song”, or a “yokie” (karaoke) to share with the class. As these children attempted to ambush my plans, I looked beyond Trudy, Michael and Troy, to the other side of the room, where two boys were rolling on the floor like puppies fighting for a bone.

“No”,… I called to all of them as I walked to the front. “No.. . Everyone please sit in your spot! We’re going to do our dance first, work on our school song, and then on our xylophone notes”. The performers turned back to their spots as if it didn’t matter at all, either way.

Good. Still balancing.

As each child had a xylophone placed in front of them, I began to demonstrate how to hold the mallets and how to bounce them on the bars. I paused to call to a girl who was still standing across the room. “Mary, please kneel in front of your xylophone. She didn’t budge. (She didn’t even LOOK at me!). “Mary”… I could hear myself louder now, “Please kneel in front of the xylophone”. Nothing.

I walked over to Mary and said softly, “I would like for you to kneel in front of the xylophone right here”. “What’s kneel”?, she said. Of course I didn’t show my surprise, but my mind had letters whirling around in it: (Neal, neele, Neil, neel???) Meanwhile Josh and Marie ran over from their seats and were squatting down near Mary, teaching her… “lower your knees, see?….like this”.

Teetering.

“Everyone go back to your places please”, I said with authority. One boy was doing cartwheels, from the risers onto the floor.

I just let him do it. (Sigh)

We started to play our xylophones— (sometimes it’s best to just “get at it”, and fast!) It sounded great! Some little tweaks and adjustments were made as I made the circuit around the room, to demonstrate, support, and open, tightly-fisted hands.

Balance.

We were ALL playing together now, and the music began to take shape! I glanced across the room. One boy was playing on the very edge of the bars, causing them to flip off the xylophone and fall to the ground. Instead of getting up, I just called to him..”Tony, move your mallets to the middle.” Nothing. Almost instantly, I knew that he did not know what “the middle” was.. nor “of what” I was speaking of. Not his fault. But with ONE minute left to class, I did not want to stop to adjust, I just wanted to play to the end and clean up.

I’m smiling as I’m remembering what I yelled over to him: “Put your balls on the bar!”

He did.

It was good!

12 comments

  1. Welcome to the slicing community! What a day, whew! Sounds like an energetic bunch, and you’re right, the sooner you start, the better. “Put your balls on the bar!” Hilarious! Were there any comments from the students?

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  2. Fellow new slicer here! Your imagery of chaos was absolutely “balls on the bar”. There have been many days in my classroom when I’ve felt like I’m fighting a losing battle and have absolutely nothing left. Those were the days when I’d spend the last ten minutes of my class sitting at my desk and focusing on my breathing as I imagined putting on a helmet and crawling underneath my desk until it was all over. It didn’t matter how seasoned I was, even as a veteran teacher I’d have these days once in a while and your description brought that feeling back to me just like it happened this afternoon. Here I would also like to applaud you, for NOT putting on your helmet and crawling behind your music stand, rather finding the humor in the situation and playing through to the end. Bravo!

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    1. Thank you for your sweet note. I’ve been teaching (Music ) for 39 years and I still love it. All that is to say that I’ve been around long enough to know that you’re COOKED if you take anything too seriously. Not that it’s not hard, but teaching Kindergarten at the end of the day is hard for Everyone — including the kindergarteners.

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      1. Kindergarten teachers are worth their weight in gold! I used to regularly sub for a kindergarten class, before I became a teacher, and it was always an adventure and always EXHAUSTING! Ah, the tiny furniture and the day a kid peed in the trashcan (in the bathroom, mind you)!!!

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  3. Put your balls on the bars! Omg I’m dying 😆 this post was hilarious. I mean, I felt my own anxiety in your words but I also adored your storytelling ability with this slice. It was perfect. There was so much rhythm in the lines that added to the humor. Love love love the honesty of it. You’re a saint in my eyes today.

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  4. I love you. I love that this made me laugh out loud. I love that you took a pause when you realized your young friend didn’t know what it meant to kneel, and i LOVE that her classmates rushed to help her (and rescue you from a demo!!!!!). You made it. You survived. And really, isn’t that what we’re all doing right now? Praying to survive?
    You got this. You can do hard things. One more day and then a much deserved break.
    “Put your balls on the bar”

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