Friday, December 21, 2012

Top 10 Worst Children's Toys Available This Christmas

(photo @ blog.formstack.com)

Everyone remembers getting gifts that they didn't like during the holidays. I still vividly recall getting a Care Bear doll and a copy of Charles Dickens' classic 'A Tale of Two Cities.' It was bad enough that these gifts were given during the same Christmas, but the fact that I was a boy and seven years old didn't help matters, either.

Still, I could at least tell that the relatives who got me those presents had put some thought into them (or were trying to cause me extreme gender confusion while simultaneously developing a disdain for French aristocracy during the 1800's).

Some gifts, however, should be a clear indicator that the parent or relative that gave them to you didn't think very hard about what you (or any child) would enjoy playing with...or that they hate you.

When I set out to compile assortment of terrible toys, many of the "worst of" lists I found on the internet were made based off of the fact that the toy was simply too dangerous. Like this water balloon launcher...

which made the list due to the fact that it can fire a water balloon "at high speeds of up to 75 mph." Maybe it's because I don't have children, but that sounds like all types of awesome.

The following products, however, have no business being found under the Christmas tree this year. Below are RamblingBeachCat.com's Top 10 worst children's toys that you can still buy this holiday season. Each entry has a helpful link to the item's purchase page if you are a horrible person.

10. FAO Schwarz Wooden Pounding Bench

Aside from its hilariously bad name, the 'Pounding Bench' offers nothing more than the FAO Schwartz brand name slapped on a few pieces of carved wood, a hammer, and some colorful pegs. 

The product's description page claims that this toy helps young children to "develop hand eye-coordination." It's also a great way to let your kids know that Santa Clause doesn't exist...because if he did, there's no way that even the darkest interpretations of St. Nicholas would send this to any child.

9. Pro-Thumb Wrestling Arena

Take a piece of "high impact" plastic, a few pegs, and some rubber bands, and you've got what is quite possibly the lamest addition to a game that kids have been playing for ages.

By the time your child has counted to four, he or she will not be declaring thumb war; they'll be going to their school's guidance office because no one wants to be friends with them anymore.

8. Wonder Cleaning Cart

Nothing tells I child that you love them quite like the gift of manual labor. If your kid doesn't see this as the pathetically veiled attempt to get them to clean the house that it is, you've completely failed as a parent.

But if you still insist on going that route, you might as well spring for the much less expensive (and infinitely more efficient) Toy Dyson Vacuum, which has actual suction to go along with some fake cleaning sounds.

No batteries required: It runs on the 
tears of kids that miss already miss their childhood.

7. Just Like Home 37-Piece McDonald's Playfood Backpack

I've never understood the 'Just Like Home' food toys to begin with, but maybe there is a large market for fake plastic food (besides squeak toys for dogs).

But what kid in his right mind is going to carry around a bunch of fake McDonald's food in a clear backpack that is shaped like a hamburger? A kid that's going to get the crap beaten out of him, that's who.

Oh, and if you buy this for your kid and he or she happens to be overweight, that should land you in jail for straight up child abuse (no matter how hilariously ironic it may have seemed at the time).

6. Dino Poop


This product lets you explore the awesome and mysterious time of the dinosaurs by digging through their crap to see what they ate for lunch. While searching through the "dino dough," you might find plants, bones, or pieces of corn.

If you decide to go with the carnivore package, there's a decent chance that you'll also find the remains of an injured and defenseless animal that was brutally devoured by a scavenging predator that stalked the earth millions of years ago...

...or more kernels of corn.

5. Zynga Words With Friends To Go Game

Yes, the popular online game that causes you to scream "THAT IS NOT A REAL WORD!" while standing in line at the post office is now available in a low tech, board game format.

Never mind that Scrabble has already existed for a few decades; this has the familiar Zynga brand name...which is pretty much all you're paying for since the price has been slashed by over 70%.

If you really want to get the true Words With Friends experience in real life (and are able to convince any of your friends to actually play this game with you), have each player begin screaming about various unrelated products and/or reenact movie trailers after every turn.

4. McDonald's Electronic Cash Register Set

McDonald's makes the list again, this time with fake food, a fake cash register, AND a bonus 10-piece drive-thru set with a real working intercom.

Look, there is no shame in eating at the Golden Arches or working there. But even the proudest McD's employee would have to admit that it's not the stuff of childhood dreams and imagination.

The set is also completely unrealistic because it comes with ice cream; everyone knows that the ice cream machine at McDonald's is always down.

3. Playskool in the Night Garden Goodnight Friend Upsy Daisy

Looking like she crawled out of a demonic fever dream, this monstrosity is somehow supposed to help your child get to sleep. 

Aside from the fact that its terrifying appearance would make any kid interested in self preservation keep one eye open while they laid in bed, the product's description says that "Her real working daisy light gives off a gentle glow to encourage your little one to settle down for bed, too."

Not only does this go completely against most current sleep research, but the "gentle glow" is most likely powered by the harvested souls of other unsuspecting children.

2. Baby Alive Whoopsie Doo Doll

Because nothing is more adorable or fun to deal with than baby who constantly craps itself, Baby Alive is here to give your child a taste of their own medicine from the early days of your parenthood.

Watch as this devious (and awesome) parent revel in their child's horror and disgust as they come to terms with the fact that her doll has just dropped a giant deuce in its pants...and now she has to clean it up.

The real question with this toy is not if the child will enjoy constantly having to change a doll that urinates and defecates (they won't for very long), but how long until the kids (or you in a drunken stupor) begin putting ground beef and lemonade in it to get a more realistic effect.

By the way, if you still want to do things by the book and go with the manufacturer recommended fake poop and pee, Amazon.com can hook you up with some reasonably priced refill packets.

1. Bebe Gloton Breastfeeding Doll

Yeah...I don't care how progressive you are about women breast feeding in public; this one is still pretty messed up. 

I really have nothing to that can top product's description page, it's tagline-- "Because you don't have to wait until you have breasts to start breast feeding your baby," -- or the argument raging in the customer review/comment section.

Good luck to everyone on their holiday gift shopping...and good luck in therapy years later with your teenage child if you get any of these gifts for them.

Please feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how terrible I am more personally, I can also be found on Twitter.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sandy Hook Tragedy Aftermath: 4 Reasons Both Sides of the Gun Control Debate Aren't Making Any Sense

(photo @ abcnews.com)

On Friday, December 14, 2012, one of the most horrific tragedies imaginable happened at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut: A gunman got into the school and gunned down 20 children and 5 teachers.

As you can imagine, the idea of children between the ages of 6 and 7 getting shot and killed in their own classroom has sparked an outpouring of grief, rage, and the inevitable politicizing that always occurs immediately after a national tragedy...not that there's anything necessarily wrong with that. A horrible event like this reminds us of just how awful the "worst case scenario" really is and makes everyone to reassess their priorities.

Unfortunately, it also tends to cause folks on both sides of a debate--in this case, the issue of gun control--to make emotionally charged arguments without thinking about what today's impassioned declaration will mean for how the future will deal with reality.

While the tragedy in Newtown definitely should makes us feel angry and upset...AND make us look very closely at the gun culture in the United States...it shouldn't give pro-gun and anti-gun advocates a free pass to mindlessly spout off opinions steeped in misinformation, anger, and fear.

The following are a few points I've heard repeated by both sides that are beginning to make my head hurt. I'll address/talk down to both sides of this issue (just like I did during the great Chick-fil-A debate last summer) starting with the pro-gun group (and one of their crazier theories).

1. Pro-Gun People: Arming school teachers is a really stupid idea.

Yes, there are already lobbyists and lawmakers saying that teachers carrying guns in the classroom is a viable way to prevent another violent massacre like what happened in Newtown. The fact that I'm a teacher myself should make anyone give a serious pause to this line of reasoning, but allow me to expand on that a bit.

Even if you are not a long time reader of this site, you have probably been able to surmise that I am not an English teacher. That's because even though I have the ability to occasionally construct a funny/informative narrative, there are always typos in every article that I publish.

In fact, even after proof reading this piece myself (and asking my wife to proof-read it, too), you will still probably find a decent amount of grammatical and spelling mistakes (or instances when I just left a word out all together)....and that's writing in a language that I have been using for decades.

Operating a gun, on the other hand, isn't as simple as using your Wii-remote control while playing Call of Duty (which I also struggle mightily with, as well).

"It's not my fault! I need to recalibrate AGAIN!"

It takes a decent amount of training along with a high degree of awareness and safety. Considering that there are over 7 million teachers in the United States, the odds of more than a few of us experiencing mishaps and accidents in the classroom with our firearms is more than a little daunting.

By the way, notice that I did not put the word "accidents" in quotations. That's because I've never come close to ever wanting to physically harm one of my students; even the ones that have royally ticked me off.

But I'm guessing that if you think back on all the teachers that you had from kindergarten through 12th grade, there is at least one teacher you were glad did not have a gun at his or her disposal in a room full of unruly children.

I do agree, however, that there should be a school resource officer at each school who carries a firearm and is properly trained on how to use it...but I don't think that myself and the orchestra teacher should come into school every morning packing heat.

2. Anti-Gun People: Stop pointing at other countries with anti-gun laws (and a fraction of the United States' population) as examples of why outlawing citizen ownership of firearms works. 

As a teacher in the United States, one thing I get really tired of hearing the constant cry of the media that American students are lagging way behind students from other countries.

Let's just ignore the fact that the United States has never ranked at the top of international education tests since we began comparing scores back in 1964; we're America gosh darn it, and we should be the best...right?

Never mind the fact that our population far exceeds almost all of these countries both in sheer quantity, diversity, and poverty levels. I'm sure that in India, where their students are apparently demolishing our kids on international test scores, it's taken into account that over half the of children aged 6-14 (most of them severely underprivileged) don't even go to school...

...while in the United States, nearly every child is enrolled in school and required to go, even if the individual child or their parents would rather they not be there.

Hopefully you see what
I'm getting at here....

It's a comparison that makes for some great hyperbole, but not a very sound argument...and the "look at how good everyone else is" argument doesn't work well when it comes to gun control, either.

Sure, you could point to Japan and Canada's ability to almost completely eliminate gun violence in their country due to strict gun regulation (while ignoring the fact that their populations are a fraction of the United States' and culturally very different), but that wouldn't be telling the whole story.

You would also have to look at countries like Switzerland, where all able bodies male citizens are required to have a firearm, yet gun related crime is still incredibly low. Sweden and Finland also have a very high rate of gun ownership while still maintaining an impressively low level of gun-related crime, as well.

Obviously, the issue of gun violence will always be linked with a population's access to firearms, but it also involves cultural and demographic issues that make it much more complicated than simply banning firearms all together.

And as horrible as the Sandy Hook tragedy was, it is not a clear indicator that gun violence is this country spiraling out of control. Kieran Healy, a Duke sociology professor, made the following graph showing "deaths due to assault" by firearms in the United States compared to other developed countries.

As the chart makes depressingly apparent, we are the violent outlier of the world. But gun violence in the U.S. has also been greatly declining since the 1960's, while the country's population continues to grow at a very rapid pace.

What happened at Sandy Hook Elementary may have been one of the most awful and sickening things imaginable, but despite what you hear on the news, gun crime in America is not getting progressively worse.

3. Pro Gun People: The Constitution was written during a very different time...and you are not an action movie hero.

The Constitution and the Bill of Rights are the backbone of the laws that govern our great nation. They are responsible for many of the rights that our nation has fought on the fields of war and in the court of law to protect.

But sometimes, our founding fathers and early lawmakers got things wrong...and for any of you who are about to go grab your torches and pitch forks to rise up against me, ask yourselves this: Should there ever be a situation where an entire race of people is only considered to be three-fifths of a person?

Not pictured: Three fifths of a family

While things like freedom of speech and the right to due process are universal and timeless birth rights (or should be, at least) the right to own firearms as stated in the Second Amendment was written during a time when America was under the threat of occupation (from a nation that they had just declared their independence from) and heavily based on the formation of citizen militias.

If you're going to be slavishly devoted to your right to bear arms, then you also better be heavily devoted to giving up a large portion of your personal life as a member of (or commanding) an armed group of volunteer citizens.

My guess is that for most of you who are pro-gun, the desire to raise your family (or future family) in a safe, weirdo-free environment (along with having a somewhat normal social circle) nixes that one pretty quickly. Even the most ardent of American patriots will admit that domestic militias tend to attract folks that just about everyone else (including those who serve and have served in the actual U.S. military) would rather not associate with. 

Is that a broad generalization? Yes. 

Is it correct on almost every level? Yes. And here comes another one.

Many pro-gun advocates will strongly hint or even come right out and say that they need to be armed in case the United States government fails them (or their candidate doesn't win the next election).

"This statement does not grant you the license to kill people with whom you disagree
or simply become an uninformed douche bag who constantly posts political rantings on Facebook."
-Thomas Jefferson (if he were alive today)

They will misquote or misconstrue things that our founding fathers said during a time of war (and single shot muskets) to mean that they must stand ready with the sweet gear they bought at the last gun show to go full Rambo on the government's ass if things ever get too squirrely.

But this rationale for gun ownership (especially with regards to high powered automatic and semi-automatic rifles) is complete and utter B.S.

Let's say that crazy judge in Texas was right and President Obama decides to invade the Lone Star State. You've been stockpiling weapons for years, so you're ready to defend your home with your life...

...which is exactly the price that you will pay when a barrage of hellfire missiles rains down on your property and leaves nothing behind except a smoldering crater.

Hey no fair! My scope wasn't zeroed in correctly!

This isn't a staging ground for 'Red Dawn', the United States military is not completely inept, and you are not Patrick Swayze or Leah Thompson in the prime of their young careers. Your personal weapons may be a great help in defending you and your family against a home intruder or hunting animals for food and/or sport, but they will not help you against the ridiculously perceived threat of invasion from your own country's military (even if you happen to own illegal, automatic firing guns).

I fully support people being able to responsibly own and operate personal firearms, but there is no need for a private citizen to own military grade, automatic firing weapons.

Wanting to hunt animals for food and sport is perfectly acceptable. Wanting to defend your family by any means necessary is noble. Fantasizing that you may one day lead a new American revolution while starring in your own personal action movie is stupid and asinine.

Just go play paintball or something.

4. Anti-Gun People: Stop saying that the Sandy Hook tragedy wouldn't have happened if stricter gun laws were in place.

Let's set aside the fact that Connecticut already has some of the strictest gun control laws in the country. The fevered pitch of our current national discussion isn't really interested in "control", anyway; a lot of folks just think that we should ban citizen ownership of guns all together.

I hate to break this to you, but that's not going to happen. The Economist already did a much better job explaining this than I ever could, but here's what it boils down to:

1. There are too many illegal guns on the market (not to mention the fact that most criminals acquire their firearms through a friend or theft).

2. The 2nd Amendment is far too entrenched in many of this country's citizens, both for completely rational reasons as well as idiotic purposes...and especially in those squirrely militia types.

What they are not: Constitutional scholars
What they are: Incredibly stubborn and a bit scary

An absolute ban on guns may have worked for Australia (who has a much smaller population) back in 1996, but it simply will be able to happen here in the United States.

And even if it could, I must once again bring up the hated "guns don't kill people, people kill people" argument...which by itself is an incredibly stupid statement. That's like saying "Nuclear weapons don't destroy everyone; hostile countries do." Guns make killing people a MUCH easier and efficient task, which is why they need to be strictly regulated.

But the real problem still lies with the people, themselves....people like Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, who in 1995 used fertilizer and racing fuel to kill 19 children and 168 people altogether. Taking guns (and the ability to purchase personal firearms) out of the hands of law abiding citizens won't protect us from the monsters that walk among us.

And yes, I realize that the shooters from the Virginia Tech massacre and the Aurora theater shooting purchased their guns legally. But these were not crimes of passion; they were the work of calculated, sick individuals who put in a lot of time and planning. They would have found the guns (or another suitable weapon) eventually...

...which leads me to my final point.

Okay Mr. Know-it-all Moderate, what should we do about it?

I've never understood why purchasing a gun was so easy compared to other government regulated tasks...like being able to drive a car.

I know that the pro-gun folks are wary of being made to jump through needless hoops just to hold the same rights that they had before, but shouldn't owning a deadly weapon be at least as regulated for you as it is for the idiot who won't get out of the left lane on the interstate?

But still, we have to go right back to the problem of what to do about the people who use guns for violence against others. This is where the pro-gun folks are going to have to bear with me and embrace some liberal values.

Now, now...don't click off the safety on your weapon just yet. Hear me out for a second.

One thing about the conservative pro-life movement that really irks me is the fact that so many of them are against socialized medicine, public education, and government assistance to the poor. That's not being pro-life at all; that's just being pro-birth.

No additional snark needed

So if you're going to continue to repeat the "guns don't kill people, people kill people" mantra, then it's time to start being willing to do something for potentially dangerous people on a broad and drastic scale.

Mental health care in this country has to be prioritized, it has to get better, and it has to be accessible to everyone. Even if regular counseling and medical treatment can't cure a potentially violent sociopath, it can help identify them so that they are never in a position to own or operate a deadly weapon.

Right now, however, mental health care is far too expensive for many of the people who actually need it...which means it's time to stop railing against socialized medicine, cough up the extra 14 cents for your crappy Papa John's pizza, and realize that therapy and treatment for mental disorders should not just be for those with disposable income or who are institutionalized; it should be available to everyone.

By the way, this doesn't mean that you have to support Obamacare, if that makes you feel better. Without the single-payer option, the whole thing is still an absolute mess that has a lot of untangling to be done before it's going to do much good.

And yes, I'm also aware that the Sandy Hook shooter's mother was more than financially capable of providing therapy and treatment for her son. But aside from that being a very unique (and unlikely) case, the issue of providing good mental health care isn't just about money for individuals in need.

It's also about accessibility, awareness, and making sure a system exists that provides it to everyone. It's about giving school's the funding necessary to hire the staff needed to care for the multitude of troubled children coming through their doors each day. It's about a shift in this country from mental health being a subject we whisper about or push off to the side into something we all start taking very seriously.

If we're going to blame people instead of their easy access to lethal killing instruments, then it's time to start supporting a plan to make sure that people have access to the treatment and help that they need.

Please feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how terrible I am more personally, I can also be found on Twitter.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Nick vs. The School Copier

(photo @ wikipedia.com)

It's 8:15 AM and just a few minutes remain until the school day starts. There is precious little time for Nick to copy materials before his first class begins. 

As he briskly walks into the teacher workroom, however, he is greeted by his old nemesis: The copy machine.

Copy Machine: Hey man, how's it going? You going to make some copies before you start the day?

Nick: .....

Copy Machine: What?

Nick: Seriously dude, do not start this crap with me today. I just need to make some copies of my weekly update sheets and music theory quizzes for my students.

Copy Machine: That's no problem at all, Nick. Making copies is what I live to do. Just enter your user code right here....

Nick: I know what to do.


Copy Machine: Whoops. Looks like I'm out of paper.

Nick: Great....

Nick storms off to get paper from the teacher work room and returns to load it into the copier.

Nick: Okay, so now I'm really pressed for time. Can you please make these copies without screwing anything up?

Copy Machine: Sure. Just load it it into the tray here and set up what you want...oh man, are you kidding me? Double sided AND stapled? It's not even first period yet!

Nick: Just do your job.

Copy Machine: Yeah..well...there might be a slight problem with your request...


Nick: HOLY CRAP! Are you serious?!

Copy Machine: You'll never know since no one actually understands how (or attempts) to ever reload my staples.

Nick: Why couldn't you have told me you were out of staples BEFORE I loaded you with paper?

Copy Machine:Well, you're more than welcome to use one of the other machines in the building...but oh wait...I almost forgot....THEY'RE ALL OUT OF ORDER! Looks like you're stuck with me.

Nick: Fine, I'll just staple them myself.

Copy Machine: That's the spirit!

Nick: Shut up.

Copy Machine: Alright, go ahead and load the paper. I'm ready to do this.

Nick loads the originals into the machine and begins making copies. But after a few seconds, an unholy screeching sound is heard followed immediately by an error message.


Nick: NO!!! This not happening!!

Copy Machine: Oh, but it is happening, Nick. As you can clearly read on the display, I have paper jammed in sections 1A, 1B...

Nick: SHUT UP!

Nick angrily swings open the doors of the copy machine and begins digging out the jammed paper.

Nick: You do this every time. EVERY. TIME. Why can't you just copy things without turning it into some sort of mind game with me?! Your behavior is completely sick and inappropriate.

Copy Machine: ....says the man with his hands currently inside me.

Nick: And there is NO PAPER JAM in section D4! Why are you lying?!

Copy Machine: If I say there is a paper jam in D4, than there is a paper jam in D4. Reality is of little consequence to my daily operations.

Nick: Please just stop with the error message, at least. At this point, I'm only fixing this "paper jam" so that I won't look like a jerk who leaves the machine broken for everyone else. There's no way I'll get my copies done in time for class, anyway.

Copy Machine: Oh, that's alright. Just tell your students that you were unprepared to teach them that day because of an inanimate object that copies things. I'm sure their young and impressionable minds will completely associate this failure with me and not you.

Nick: I really hate you, you know that? I'm going to class. I can't wait until the day you die.

Copy Machine: Hey Nick...do you know why people call me Bob Marley?

Nick: Don't say it...

Copy Machine: Because I'm always jammin'.

Please also feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how terrible I am more personally, I can also be found on Twitter. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Fun With the Public School System: Why we don't let you go to the bathroom

There was a story in the news recently about a student who ended up wetting his pants in class because his teacher would not let him go to the bathroom. As you can imagine, this has sparked quite a bit of (completely understandable and justified) outrage.

Apparently, the teacher in this story was using some sort of pretend money reward system in which students bought the privilege to leave class and relieve themselves. When the young man in question couldn't pay up, his bladder had to pay the price, instead...

...and since this is elementary school, the dam did eventually burst.

I'll support another teacher on just about anything, but I'm not sure I can follow this fellow educator's line of reasoning. Having to get someone to sign a piece of paper so that you can poop or pee is humiliating enough without the added stress of a rigid and unfamiliar currency system.

The only motivation this provides is to resign myself to credit card debt.

But after reading through the comments section of the article, I was a bit taken aback by the populist rage that rose up against teachers in general for our perceived unwillingness to let students use the bathroom whenever they feel it's needed.

Now don't get me wrong; I'm totally willing to admit that there are evil teachers (or fake currency manipulators) that should probably be on the hook for generations worth of urinary tract infections.

But please allow me, if you will, to explain why most rational teachers (myself surprisingly included) are more than a little reluctant to let our students use the bathroom whenever they claim that the urge arises.

Sympathetic Bladder Syndrome

Much in same way that people feel the urge to yawn when others around them are doing it, kids often times feel the sudden need to go to the bathroom when they observe one of their fellow classmates obtaining the go-ahead to do so.

I've noticed that if I tell one student they can go to the bathroom, 3-4 more will immediately ask if they can do the same as soon as that student returns. Even after I have repeatedly announced that I will not allow students to "chain" the bathroom, it still doesn't stop them from magically developing the urge to pee as soon as one of their classmates returns from their journey to the restroom.

I've taken a pretty firm stance against allowing this phenomenon to play out in my classroom (although I have accidentally let it slide a few times). And in spite of my iron fist of liquid authority, I have yet to observe a mass tidal wave of urine occur from the mass of suddenly full bladders that I have denied the right to relief...

...meaning that this urge to go is more likely an empathetic response or a group psychosis.

Since I teach middle school, I tend to lean towards a conservative diagnosis and stick with calling it a psychosis.

The Definition of an "Emergency."

We've all been there; our urge to release our bowels and/or bladder has become so strong that its sheer physical force threatens to override every mental safeguard we have against soiling our pants.

If you have to pee, then you clench every muscle in the lower part of your body you can while simultaneously dancing around (which actually does much more harm than good).

If you have to poop, you begin to sweat and shift in your seat nervously as the painful intestinal contractions move closer and closer to together while increasing in intensity.

Yes, that's a prairie dog

THOSE are the signs of an emergency. So when a student comes up to me with a look of absolute terror in their eyes, I know that even if it's not a good time to let them leave the classroom (like in the middle of my explanation about what material their next test will cover), I mercifully allow them to go to the restroom...

...but sometimes, a student will come up to me very casually and say they need to go to the bathroom. When I say "no" or "not right now," they will calmly reply "But it's an emergency."

I'll then suggest that they go sit down for a bit so that I can determine if it is truly an emergency or not....which I'm sure doesn't endear me to most people reading this who are not teachers.

But in virtually every single one of these cases the following behavior by the student (who previously claimed to have an "emergency" situation) is observed:

-An incredibly casual demeanor
-An ability to constantly disrupt class by talking to the students around them.

I don't know about you, but when I feel nature screaming, my demeanor is anything but casual and I have absolutely no desire to talk with anyone.

And to drive the point home further, the student that originally had the "emergency" will often forget about it as quickly as it began.

The Lovers' "Secret" Meeting

One thing students seem to forget is that when we're not screaming at the copy machine or calling parents, teachers actually do talk to each other.

During our discussions, we will often point out that two students need to have an eye kept on them because they can't keep their hands off each other. And yes, this even happens at the middle school level.

...but usually with a foot or two of space between them.

It's at this point that we often notice the same students trying to go to the bathroom at the same time. As genius as Romeo and Juliet Jr's plan was, we tend to keep it from happening after the first time.

When Aunt Flo Just Won't Leave

As I've mentioned before, I tend block out any and all volunteered information by my female students about their menstrual cycles. Once a girl comes up to me and begins to say "I just started my p...", I cannot throw the bathroom pass at them fast enough.

"I was just trying to say I started 
my paper on Mozart, but okay..."

Eventually, a couple of my more devious girls figured out my aversion hearing about their inner workings and attempted to use it to their advantage.

The first week, I let them go without question.

The second week, I continued to let them go to the bathroom, but began to have my suspicions.

By the third week, I started to realize that unless they had an undisclosed medical condition, no person would ever bleed that much unless they had been on the receiving end of a shot gun blast. That's when I decided to put my powerful skills of interrogation to work on one member of the bathroom frequenting duo.

"Flo [not actual name], I may not know much, but I'm pretty sure that doesn't happen for three weeks straight unless something is very wrong. Do we need talk to the school nurse or call your parents?"

At this point, Flo smiled, admitted she wasn't really having a marathon session of "that time of the month," and went back to her seat.

A Leisurely Stroll =/= Explosive Bowel Movements

Diarrhea sucks. When you're caught in its terrible throes, you wouldn't wish that awful, unclean pain on even your worst enemy.

It's also exponentially worse when you have it in a public school bathroom. There is the possibility of someone walking in and hearing you unleash the fury, not to mention the potentially disgusting conditions that you can find yourself in (although I have to give props to our current custodial staff for how clean they keep the bathrooms these days; I don't even line the seat with toilet paper anymore.)

So if a student is gone for a long time and comes back saying that they are having "stomach problems," then I'm usually very sympathetic...

...until five different teachers tell me that they saw you wondering the halls, looking through their windows to disrupt their classes, and doing just about everything but suffering from Montezuma's Revenge. Once you've broken the trust like that, you've lost your "I've Got The Squirts" card in my classroom for life as far as I'm concerned.

...and don't even think for a second that this
will still work when you get pulled over, either!

The Kid(s) That Goes Every Day at the Same Time

Look, I get having a schedule when it comes to your bowel movements and bladder releases. Back when I drank coffee on a daily basis, it was pretty much a given that I would need to have my way with a toilet by 11:00 AM.

But if I let the same student go to the bathroom every day in my class, then everyone will think that they can, too. Combine that with the previously mentioned Sympathetic Bathroom Symptom, and good luck trying to get anything done during a 45 minute class period.


This list is by no means a comprehensive one, but hopefully it gives you some idea of the multitude of reasons (besides having to actually relieve themselves) that students will use to leave class and go to the restroom....which of course none of us ever tried ourselves when we were in school.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go to the bathroom.

Please also feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how terrible I am more personally, I can also be found on Twitter.