Is it OK to eat expired macaroons?

apron1

A couple of kids made this apron for me just before the Christmas break a couple of years ago. It made me cry.

I have the great fortune of being a middle school art teacher. Middle school is such a peculiar time in a kid’s life: my own memories of middle school are mixed and tumultuous. Kids are just finding out who they are and are doing all sorts of experimenting with their identities. When they make art they are often still “innocent” enough to allow some of their actual living, breathing soul to come through – it’s a time just before the pernicious filters of ego and self-consciousness can shut down the joy of creative expression. This is the magic of making art, and they truly do make some interesting art. And they say the most interesting things…. so over the years I have made a habit of writing down some of their most interesting, hilarious, and touching utterances. Herewith, a selection from the archive of middle school gems:

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funny shirt

 

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Kid #1: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Kid #2: I want to be Mario.
Kid #1: Your aspiration in life is to be a middle-aged Italian plumber?

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Kid: Mr. G., would you like a cupcake?
Me: Of course. These look great! Did you make these yourself?
Kid: Yeah, I was really nervous because my bar mitzvah is next weekend and when I get really nervous I bake.

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Kid: I’m not sure what I should say on my Mother’s Day card.
Me: How about “Dear Mom: I want you to know how much I love you, value you, and appreciate everything you have done for me.”
Kid: That’s debatable.

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Kid: Life at home is so weird right now. My mom just figured out how to use emojis.

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Me: Which US agency comes after you if you counterfeit currency?
Kid: Barbra Streisand.

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Me: How does your finished ceramic box reflect who you are?
Kid: Like me, this box is a hot mess.

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Kid is riding through the parking lot with no helmet.
Me: Where’s your helmet?
Kid: *sigh, eye roll* I’m just going to the back of the school.
Me: I care about your head.
Kid: The only time I’ve ever fallen off my bike was when I had training wheels.

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Reason #482 why I love my job: I have two kids who are fiercely determined to try to cook a chicken in the kiln.

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Kid: Where can I find a pencil?
Me: Right in front of you. It’s amazing how you can find a pencil in an art classroom. Along with paint and paint brushes. Stuff like that. Usually right in front of you.
Kid: I’m hearing some serious sass coming from you, Mr. G.

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Me: Stop standing around like a bunch of sheep.
Kid: I am a sheep.
Me: No, you’re not. Sheep are really stupid. You’re not stupid.
Kid: Yes I am. I asked my dad what Justin Bieber’s last name was.

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Perennially late kid was tardy again today. I asked her if she had trouble getting out of bed, she said “No, this time it was my dad’s fault. He threw a tantrum in the car.”

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I had occasion to use the phrase “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” in class this morning.
Me: Does anyone know where that saying comes from?
Kid: Nebraska?

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Kid is carving a ceramic piece but the clay is too dry.
Me: Don’t carve it when it’s that dry. You’re creating dust that’s unhealthy.
Kid: We’re all going to die eventually anyway.
Me: Well that escalated quickly.

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Kid is laying out an incredibly detailed and complicated color wheel and asks my advice.
Me: Well, you’ve created quite a challenge for yourself here.
Kid: “Challenge” is my middle name.

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I was telling the kids that I like to listen to podcasts and music when I go out for a walk, and a girl raised her hand and asked, “Why would anyone walk voluntarily?”

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Kid #1: My mom took away my PS4 and I don’t even know what to do.
Kid #2: It’s called going outside.

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Kid: My mom took my phone away and we argued every day for a week.
Me: You’re in the “You-Are-Not-The-Boss-Of-Me” phase, right?
Kid: That’s the story of my life.

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I made three kids move about 150 pounds of clay for me this morning. (I know, I’m a slave driver.)
Me: Was that good exercise for you?
Kid: THAT STAINED MY LULU LEMON PANTS. (Pause) Wow, that must be the most white girl thing I’ve ever said.

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Kid: I’m not sure what to do with this now.
Me: Well, perhaps a design sketch should be on your agenda.
Kid: The only thing on my agenda is Netflix and chicken nuggets.

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Kid: If I ever get a pet pig, I’m going to name him Chris. P. Bacon

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Kid is working in our room at lunch on a project for another class: “Now comes the fun part of my project: extinction! I get to draw burning dinosaurs, dying animals, and an erupting volcano!”

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Kid: I can’t do this.
Me: You’re not allowed to say “can’t” in here.
Kid: How about “won’t”?
Me: Are you in a “you-are-not-the-boss-of-me” fight with your parents these days?
Kid: Yeah, but that’s a snap. If you pick the right argument, you can just use their own words against them.

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Me: I have great faith in you. You are going to change the world.
Kid: What are we gonna do?
Me: You’re going to invent faster-than-light travel so we can visit other star systems.
Kid: And then we can get away from Donald Trump.

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Kid: I think I need to retire.
Me: You’ve got a ways to go yet, kiddo, just hang in there.
Other kid: Wait, Mr. G., what happens to you when you’re an art teacher and you get too old to function?
Me: Well that escalated quickly.

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Me: You can share these supplies. Sharing is a good character trait to develop at your age, so we’re going to keep working on that, even though you aren’t getting good role modeling on it from some adults in our society.
Kid: Why do you keep saying that?

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Kid: Mr. G., when a butterfly is in its cocoon, does it suddenly just go “Whoa dude, I’m a butterfly now.”?

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Me: I’m going to be coming around taking pictures of hands doing this drawing, so don’t be shy. No one can tell who you are from a picture of your hands.
Kid: What about Donald Trump?

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I was showing my students a cool animated video that depicted cholesterol in the bloodstream, and said “That’s cholesterol. That’s the bad stuff,” and a kid immediately shot back: “There’s good cholesterol and bad cholesterol, Mr. G. You can’t generalize like that or you’re being cholesterolist.” I love these kids.

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Me: Eventually dabbing will be like Vine and it will die.
Kid: That was too soon, Mr. Gralen.

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I do a very short mindfulness practice at the beginning of every class. Today my 8th graders in Ceramics were very squirrelly, a couple of boys in particular.
Me: Jeez, you guys. The 6th graders are better at this than you are.
Kid: They don’t have as much testosterone as we do.

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Me: Remember, your drawing has to have at least three adjectives on it describing your awesome self.
Kid: Can I use “Kanye”?
Me: Kanye is not an adjective. Kanye is an idiot.
Kid: OK, how about “Pablo”?

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They have this weird question game going on.
Kid #1: Would you rather turn into a pumpkin or an eggplant?
Kid #2: It depends. Would I be like, conscious?

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And so it begins…..overheard in the classroom:

Kid: Would you rather be gored to death by a unicorn or fall out of a 50th floor window?

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Kid #1: Do you have a talent?
Kid #2: I do. It’s called hiding and never coming out.
Kid #3: Just like my dad.

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You overhear the weirdest stuff in the middle school classroom. A bunch of kids are working on some sort of collage. One says to the other: “That looks like the she-male version of Abraham Lincoln.”

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Two of my classes were all abuzz about a particular boy who’s had a very scratchy, cracking voice all semester. Evidently it changed overnight to a bass. Overheard….”Yeah, he went through puberty.”

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When my kids do their mask I ask them to reflect on their meaning and purpose. I have some kids who make the most amazing pieces, and then say “I’m not sure what it means.” In my view this is testament to the power of the human spirit to embody in images that which is sometimes difficult to express in words. They never cease to amaze me. Here is one example:

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Me: Have any of you guys seen “Batman vs. Superman”?
Kid: I did. For the first two hours it was kinda boring.

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Me: It turns out Drumpf’s kids forgot to register in time for the New York primary so they can’t vote for their dad.
Kid: Maybe they don’t really WANT to vote for him, and this is their way of getting out of it.

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I’m playing my Lady Gaga stream on Pandora in the classroom, and a Rihanna tune comes on. This kid gets all excited.
Kid: You got some good music going on here, Mr. G. This is from my childhood.
Me: Which is happening right now, right?
Kid: I’M THIRTEEN.

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“Mr. G., why does it say that thing about Eugene and the glue gun?”

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Overheard in the classroom… “Every good idea I have gets me in trouble.”

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Kid #1: Do we have to go to graduation?
Kid #2: What do you have going on that’s more important than graduating?
Kid #1: Tennis.

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Q: What was the most interesting part of this project and why was it interesting to you?
A: The most interesting part of this project is that I went against the instructions and made my own project, which allowed me to think for myself.

OK, I can’t really argue with that.

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We are doing digital self-portraits in art class.
Kid: I am not sure if eyelashes are hair.
Me: Yes, they are.
Kid: No, they’re not. They’re a gift from the Illuminati.

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Kid: Mr. G, my parents made me go to the opera yesterday.
Me: What did you see?
Kid: Carmen.
Me: Did you enjoy it?
Kid: The music was OK I guess, but the story was just cheesy.

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There is a move afoot to re-name our school. I am soliciting input from the kids: after all, it’s their school (plus this whole clusterf*&^k was started by the adults).

Best suggestion so far: “Jerry Garcia Middle School”

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The day after the Super Bowl.

Me: If you steal my pencils, I will be sadder than Cam Newton.
Kid: WHY WOULD YOU SAY THAT?

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Me: None of you are wearing aprons! Your mom is going to be really mad at me when you get paint all over your clothes.
Kid: We could sign waivers for that.

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I am taking photo portraits of my students for them to use in a pencil self portrait project. They all get grumpy and self conscious about me taking their pictures (they are adorable).
Me: Just think – you’ll be able to look back at this picture in twenty years and remember how cute you were at this age!
Kid: And then we’ll cry, because we’ll be old.

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One of my kids did an absolutely fabulous travel blog about her adventures. From her entry regarding Paris (I love the thought progression here):

“When I think of Paris, I think of there beautiful arts like cooking (Cooking is an ART). And when I think of cooking I think of food. Pizza. Pasta. Baguettes. Gnocchi. Macaroons. Have you ever heard the phrase: When in Paris eat good food. Well if you haven’t then learn it now cause Paris has some typical foods which you must try or else you will die. La Fin. (P.S. that means the end in French)”

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My students are doing an abstract drawing based on an existing painting/drawing, and one of my kids is looking at a Bosch painting as his source material.
Me: Spoiler alert – you’re probably going to come across some highly inappropriate images if you are looking at Bosch.
Kid: Tell me about it. I’ve already seen about two hundred nudists.

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Me to a stubborn kid: You just have to broaden your horizons. You’re like a flat-earther on a spherical world. If you keep going, you’re eventually going to come back around to where you started from.
Kid: You just made something really simple into something really deep.

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I’m having a discussion with this kid about how her dad has dreams of being a photographer. She says, “I don’t think it’s a very good idea. I really like my dad’s income now.”

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I’m working with a *very* smart kid trying to figure out the 3D geometry of a soccer ball pattern. I do a quick Google search and discover that this is called a “truncated icosahedron, a type of Archimedean solid”, and tell him that.

He says with a perfectly straight face: “I’ve heard of that.”

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Me: Do I look like I was born yesterday?
Kid: No. You’re bald.
O_o

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The priceless overheard comments have begun.
Kid: OK, question for all you guys: Can you see “Barney’s Great Adventure” being made into a horror film?

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Girl is being kinda mean to the boy.
Me: You need to be nice to him. He’s a gentleman. That’s rare.
Girl: I just like messing with him. And chasing him with a hammer.
Boy: You sound like my sister.

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Kid: Is Ceramics class fun, Mr. G?

Me: No, it’s a miserable, ruinous experience. That’s why so many kids signed up for it.
Kid: You’re really good at sarcasm.

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Kid: Mr. G, do you have any children?
Me: No, I have 150 children here and then I go home alone at night.
Kid: And take some Advil?

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“Mr. Gralen, where is the tempura paint?”

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Overheard in the the 6th grade classroom:
Kid: Why is Christmas just like a day at the office? You do all the work and the fat guy with the suit gets all the credit.

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There’s always that one kid who is way ahead of the game…
Q: What did you like best about this project?
A: Even if you do absolutely terrible work, you can pass it off as “modern art” – that way no one can criticize you.

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I’m moving a huge pot that this kid is making.
Me: Geez, you guys are killing me with all these big coil pots.
Kid: But we believe in you, Mr. G!

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Me: Your next project is an acrylic self-portrait on canvas. When you are done you will have a permanent record of how lovely you were at this age.
Kid: But Mr. G, we’ve already got Instagram!

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Overheard during clean-up…
Kid: We should have scented tables.
Me: You guys are so weird.
Kid: But that’s a good thing, right?

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Kid: Mr. G, where do you keep your pencil supply? You’ll notice I’m not asking if I can have a pencil.
Me: You will make a great lawyer.

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Kid: Mr. G, I need some advice on how to get my phone back – my mom took it away.
Me: Why did she take it?
Kid: Well, we were having a conversation, but I wasn’t yelling TOO much, and then she got mad and took it.
Me: Yelling is not a “conversation”, and is probably not a good strategy anyway. Maybe you should try being nice to her.
Kid: Your advice is always so hard.

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Kid: Mr. G, I don’t think I can do this.
Me: Did you even try?
Kid: No.
Me: You have to try.
Kid: This trying thing is really difficult.

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Kid is making a huge mess at her table.
Me: Why do you not have some newspaper on the table, like we always do?
Kid: I like living on the edge, Mr. G.

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Kid: Mr. Gralen, you have to let us leave early for the ice cream social after school.
Me: That’s not gonna happen. I have a legal responsibility for you up until the bell rings, and I actually take that pretty seriously.
Kid: We’ll sign waivers.

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Kid: I don’t want to do it that way. You can’t make me.
Me: Are you arguing with your parents a lot these days?
Kid: HOW DID YOU KNOW?

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Kid: I don’t want to copy someone else’s design.
Me: You’re not copying, you’re using it for inspiration. Besides, good artists copy, great artists steal. Steve Jobs said that, but he stole it from Picasso. Do you know who Picasso stole it from?
Kid: No.
Me: Stravinsky.
Other kid: And Stravinsky stole it from my mom.

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Overheard in the classroom this morning, one kid to another: “Seriously? Did your mother drop you on your head when you were a baby?”

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This is Spirit Week at our school and today is Pajama Day.
Kid: Where are your pajamas, Mr. Gralen?
Me: I have to go pick up 750 pounds of clay in about an hour and I can’t do that in my pajamas.
Kid: Why not?

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Kid: No one’s gonna help me.
Me: That’s a very passive aggressive way of saying you need some help.
Kid: That’s how I roll.

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Kid: Mr. Gralen, why are boys so weird?
Me: They’re being weird because they are nervous because they really, really like you. When boys are nervous they do weird things, and that’s going to be the same for the rest of your life.
Kid: Ewwww.

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Me: Do not throw things in here, do not toss things, do not fling things, do not hurl things, pitch things, lob things, or chuck things.
Kid: CHUCK NORRIS!

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Me: Remember to save your file and upload it to Google drive, where it will be safe.
Kid: Supposedly.

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We are doing digital selfies in our 1A class and the kids get to choose a background image for a setting.
Me: “You can choose where you want to be; for instance, maybe you’ll choose a moonscape so you can be on the moon.”
Kid: “And……dead?”

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Me: There’s a time and a place to swear, and our classroom is not the place nor the time. But it happens. Have you heard your parents swear?
Kid: Yeah, usually while parallel parking.

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Kid: Mr. G, you know what’s really annoying? When you think you know everything and you’ve got it all under control, and then two weeks later you’re looking back and saying “What was I doing with my life back then?”

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We are in the computer lab and I am playing Pandora – despite the “explicit lyrics” filter, something mildly inappropriate comes on.
Me: I’m going to be charged with corrupting you.
Kid: We’re already corrupted.

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Geniuses: “The hardest part was painting the sunflower petals, since they never turned out how I wanted them. However, I wasn’t too upset about this, since sunflowers aren’t perfect in real life.”

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Kid turns on computer, it doesn’t boot instantly: “This computer does not work.”
Me: Your inability to delay gratification is frightening.
Other kid: What does that even mean? Are you an English teacher?
First kid: No, he’s just got a degree.

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“On teaching:…the job seems to require the sort of skills one would need to pilot a bus full of live chickens backwards, with no brakes, down a rocky road through the Andes while simultaneously providing colorful and informative commentary on the scenery.”― Franklin Habit

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Kid: My dad wants to be a writer and photographer, that’s such an old man dream. Every month he changes his old man dream.

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One of my kids was doing an imitation of Jimmy Fallon doing an imitation of Donald Trump today. He killed it. It was completely meta.

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Me: Raise your hand and tell me one fun thing you did this weekend.
Kid: My entire family tried to play golf.

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Kid is in the corner with a pained look on her face.
Me: What’s wrong?
Kid: My stomach really hurts.
Me: What did you eat for breakfast this morning?
Kid: Coffee.

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Kid: “Mr. G, if they make the phone any bigger, they’re going to need to come out with Apple Pants to make it fit.”

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Kid is being hard on herself because she thinks everyone else is doing a better job on their drawing.
Me: The world is too crowded for you to be in competition with everyone else. The only person you need to be better than is the person you are right now.
*Long pause….*
Kid: Wow. You should be a motivational speaker.

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Kid: You know what’s really weird? When you feel really good when you buy a new iPhone and then a newer one comes out and you’re all “Oh my god.”

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Overheard in the classroom:
The kids are playing “Apples to Apples” and the adjective is “spicy”.
Kid: Have you SEEN Barbara Walters? She’s spicy as hell.

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Kid: Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy books, and those are basically the same thing.

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Kid: Mr. Gralen, how old were you when email was invented?
Me: Well, email has been around for a long time, but a lot of people started to use it in the mid-90s, so I was about 35. Do you know anything about the history of the internet?
Kid: I know it was lame back then.

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Me: Remember, I told you on Monday that your homework was to do something helpful at home without being asked.
Kid: I tried that and my mom got suspicious.

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I had a student last year who is from Belgium. She came to see me today. She spent the whole summer back home.
I said “Did you eat a lot of french fries with mayonnaise?”
She said “I’ve never understood that about Belgians. They do it all the time but they don’t get fat like Americans.”

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I made a Lady Gaga station on Pandora.
Kid: Mr. Gralen, this playlist is not like your usual music.
Me: I’m trying to get outside of my comfort zone.
Kid: Thank God!

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Me: Why are you late?
Kid: The bus broke down.
Me: You don’t take a bus. You live three blocks away.
Kid: How do you know that?
Me: I know everything about stuff.

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Kid: Mr. Gralen, you have to help me right now.
Me: You’re an only child, aren’t you?
Kid: Yeah, but how did you know that?

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Playing the 80s stream, the first tune that comes on is Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”. The kids went nuts. I facepalmed.
Me: “You guys, this was a top hit the year I graduated from college.”
Kid: “Wait. My mom graduated from HIGH SCHOOL in 1980. That means…..”
Long pause while I watch the gears turning…
Me: “Yes. I’m older than your mom.”
Kid: O_O

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Kid: Wait, your mom let you use bourbon to get a stain out? That stuff’s expensive.

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Kid: Mr. G, where’s my art award?
Me: Your award is my undying gratitude for your delightful presence in our classroom every morning.
Kid: That’s not gonna cut it. I need cookies.

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I showed my students a short video about mindfulness meditation, in which a kindergartner describes the brain as a jar of water full of glitter, all swirling around, and as you breathe, the glitter settles and you become calmer. A rather literal-minded kid says to me: “Mr. Gralen, our brains are not made of glitter. If they were, we’d all be dumb as bricks.” I paused and said, “I’m going to restrain myself here…..”

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It’s only 8:20 a.m. and I’ve gotten the Quote of the Week already: “The year’s gone by way too fast. I don’t wanna go to high school.”

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We are doing a printmaking project in my classroom that involves the use of tools that are sharp and have to be handled carefully. Today after the umpteenth warning a kid says: “If we don’t stab ourselves, can we get donuts?”

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Quote of the Week Award: “I’m so bummed. My mom wants me to go to this place next weekend and there’s no wifi.”

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I have my students do a short “artist’s statement” about their mask project; got this little gem today: “My mask represents how people hide behind a beautiful mask to conceal who they really are. They pretend to be their idea of a perfect human being which does not exist. I made this mask to show how if you remove your outer mask then people will learn about the real you.”

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One of my favorite, most mischievous students showed up this morning with a broken arm. I asked him what happened and so far I have received 5 versions: “My parachute didn’t open all the way,” “I got bitten by a shark,” “I was curling about 100 pounds and it broke,” “I lost the sumo match,” “my little sister hit me.” Will add to the list as it gets bigger…..

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Me: Are you arguing with your parents a lot these days?
Kid: Let’s just say we’ve agreed to disagree.

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Kid: I’ve decided to get a tattoo.
Me: You’ll want to think long and hard about that, and then make the decision when you are a fully grown adult with a clear head.
Kid: But that gives me way too much time – then I’ll never be able to make a bad decision.

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Me: The ocean is just a little saltier today with the addition of the tears of all those Seahawks fans.
Kid: But Mr. Gralen, salt doesn’t evaporate – it crystallizes.
Me: Wow, I can’t sneak one past you guys, can I?
Kid: Well, you can’t sneak a scientifically incorrect one past us.

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I make my Ceramics students destroy the first pinch pot they make because it’s just practice and they will make more and better ones as they go along. Plus it’s just clay. So I told this kid he had to start over and he said: “Starting over would be like dying and having to re-live your entire life all over again from the very beginning.”
I can see I have my work cut out for me. 😯

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Nice way to end a week:
Kid: Mr. G, here’s a question: you have the clothes on your back and a knife. You can take one thing with you to survive in the harsh wilderness. What do you take with you?
Me: I’d take a flint and a striker so I could make fire.
Kid next to me: I’d take a helicopter.

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Quote of the day: “I really don’t want to use earthworms in my design because they’re weird. You can’t tell which way they’re going.”

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Kid: Mr. Gralen, why do they call it “tardy”?
Other kid: Well, in Spanish “tarde” means “late”.
First kid: But we’re in America!

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Kid: That guy in “American Sniper” died the most ironic death ever.
Other kid: I don’t know. Elvis died on the toilet.

Where do they come up with this stuff?

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Gem of the Week:
Kid: You know how some kids have the “terrible twos”? My sister’s had that her whole life.

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This one is worth repeating.
Kid comes into my room at 8 am dressed in shorts and a t-shirt. It’s about 50 degrees outside. He is shivering like a gulag prisoner.
Me: Dude, you’re cold because you aren’t dressed properly. You need a jacket and long pants.
Kid: That’s exactly what my mom said to me this morning.
Me: Well, why don’t you listen to her?
Kid: Because I can’t let her win.

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Overheard in the classroom:
Kid: No, no, no, she’s not a psychopath, she’s a sociopath. There’s a difference.

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I was trying to give some gentle advice to a kid regarding the design for his Op Art project, which was quite ambitious and based on the radial balance symmetry of a turbine engine. I was pointing out something that could be a stumbling block in his geometry and he looked at me like I was an idiot and said, “I’m fully aware of that, but recursively it will all work out in the long run.”

I love my job.

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Overheard in the classroom:
Kid: No, don’t do it that way, you’ll make his knuckles bleed.
Me: No making each other bleed, that’s not OK.
Kid: What about internally?

😯

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Quote of the day:
Kid: Maurice, you’re smart. Is it OK to eat expired macaroons?

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Quote of the day…
Me: I need someone with OCD to sort out all these pens for me.
Kid: I have asthma, will that help?

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Kid: Why is this piece so bad?
Me: How many times have you done this?
Kid: Once.
Me: When you do it for the 30th time, do you think it will be better?
Kid: Mr. Gralen, is this art class, or that other thing, what do you call it, what was it that guy Socrates did?
Other kid: Philosopher.
First kid: Yeah. This feels more like a philosophy class when you say stuff like that.

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Talking to my Ceramics class…
Me: I showed the PTA your work today and they were really impressed and gave me a bunch of money.
Kid: I think we deserve at least 15% of that.

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Teacher moment of the day:
Kid: Mr. Gralen, how do you spell “thermometer”?
Me: Let’s sound it out – you’ve got “thermo” and then “meter”. Which means “to measure temperature” – “thermo” is a root for “heat” and “meter” is a root for “measuring”.
Kid: Is that how they figured it out? That’s so cool! It’s not completely nonsensical!

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Kid: I’m done with my sculpture.
Me: What can you do at this point to refine and improve your work?
Kid: I’m going to give it a tramp stamp.
ಠ_ಠ

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Kid: I am really happy with my sculpture.
Me: That’s great. Happy students are one of our goals.
Kid: Do you get paid more if we’re happy?

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Wisdom from the middle school classroom, episode 12: “If life gives you lemons, you really can’t make lemonade unless life gives you some sugar to work with too.”

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Quote of the week: “I wanna go live in a cabin in the woods and hang out with Hunter Pence and read novels and eat squirrel meat. And venison.”

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Wishing my kids well over Spring Break…..

Me: OK you guys, have fun, be safe, hold hands, and look both ways when you cross the street.

Kid: But if you hold hands both people die because it’s hard to run.

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Talking to my 8th graders about honesty in self-portraits as an artist.

Me: Well, if I’m going to be honest about it, I’ve gained about 25 pounds over the last 12 years.

Kid:  Mr. Gralen, if I’m going to be honest about it, I’ve gained over 100 pounds in the last 12 years…..

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Why I love middle schoolers:
Me: How much sugar did you have at lunch?
Kid: Not much. I have a natural energy because of my youth.

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Me: You guys need to do a better job of cleaning up after yourselves. The maid quit last week.
Kid in back of room: Wait, we had a maid?
Me: ಠ_ಠ

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Kid: Mr G, you act like a kid a lot. But in a good way.
Me: Well, my wife says I dress like a twelve year-old.
Kid: Well, you sort of do. That hoodie, for instance. I’d get rid of that if I were you.

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Kid is working with incredible precision on a clay project.
Me: It’s your perfectionist side coming out.
Other kid: Is she being fussy again?
Me: Well, it’s good training for when she becomes a dentist or a surgeon. You want her to be fussy when she’s working on your tooth.
Other kid: Or your brain.
Third kid: Or your right buttock.

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New 8th grade girl strategy:
Kid: My mom is so paranoid – if I’m going to meet a boy, I just say to her, “It’s OK, Mom, he’s gay.” ◔_◔

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“The discipline of most of the students I am paid to teach is deplorable. They claim to forget their assignments, when in truth, they simply refused to do them. They do not want to learn, and I cannot instill that desire in them. Our nation is doomed.” Aristotle

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Our 8th graders meet with a group of high schoolers every year to find out what high school has in store for them. The #1 question on the list? “Are there strict teachers, and how should I handle them?” ಠ_ಠ

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The 14-year old girl sitting behind me on the stage at graduation last night is being humorously teased by the 13-year old boys on either side of her.
Girl: Mr. Gralen, they’re being so stupid, make them stop.
Me: You realize this is a situation that’s never going to change, right?
Girl: *Sigh* Mr. Gralen, you’re killin’ me here.