The Losers and the Sardine

(This occurred early in 2014)

Thursday morning’s algebra class rearranged their seats, to either sit by themselves or touch desks with their best buddies.

One boy sits like a happy sardine, totally trapped between his two cronies, chatting and laughing when class starts—loss for him and his buddies.  He rudely interrupts the teacher with rabbit-chasing questions, while she tries to read the school bulletin—loss for teacher’s management capabilities and class etiquette in general.  He sees a girl behind him opening up a cold bottle of chocolate milk and asks the teacher’s permission to go out for a drink of water.  He leaves to buy a cold bottle of chocolate milk, which would not have been permitted, if he’d asked for it instead of water.  Both bottles of milk are ignored, or are permitted, by the teacher—loss, because of school rules being both ignored and flaunted (only water is allowed in classrooms).

Sardine student chats and laughs louder and louder with his buddies—loss for them and the rest of us, who can’t hear the teacher well.  The teacher makes several big errors in her instruction of numbers because of the noise—loss for her and students.  

I finally burst out and order the three sardines to separate their desks and be quiet—loss for me, because I’m only the Para, a bug on the wall of school life.  Sardines comply unwillingly, and I stick to my guns—loss for teacher’s pride and loss for disturbing the class.  

As teacher continues to teach, Sardine continues to chat with now distant buddies in whispers.  I bite my tongue.  But, on the plus side, Sardine is able to answer a couple of questions from the teacher, so the move I made helped–one small gain for him and for the rest of us, which lasts about five minutes.

Then Sardine yawns loudly and tries to move closer to one of his buddies, but I make him move away, again—loss for everybody, again.  I angrily think, Should I be in class tomorrow? No, it’s better if I stay home, sick—loss for me; I’m not paying attention to the teacher.

Sardine manages to silently and sneakily edge his desk closer to a buddy, but I let it go, as long as they stay quiet. It’s not my class.

Teacher announces one more example for learning the solving and graphing systems for equations, but Sardine loudly complains, Aren’t we done yet? When is class over anyway? Teacher finally tells him to be quiet, but he rudely laughs silently, not paying attention.  How do we all get through this miserable day?  One loss at a time, I guess.

Teacher finally gives the class three questions to do for homework, which can be done in class, but Sardine bursts out with, How are we supposed to do the homework when we don’t understand what’s going on?  I burst back with, You were not listening to the lesson, nor were you taking notes, so it’s your problem, not anyone else’s!

He shut up


the bell rings

All the losers move on to the next ordeal.



The Blues Bird

Parakeets are my favorite birds. My first one, a real character, came into my life when I was about twelve-years old. His name became Buzzard Brain II, because my mother had owned a Buzzard Brain when she worked in the Navy.

My Buzzy loved helping me play my guitar. I had played classical and Flamenco music since eight-years old; self-taught. My bird thoroughly enjoyed sitting on, and running up and down, the neck of the guitar, chirping with the music. Every once in a while, he would stick one of his toe nails around the low G-string and laugh when I plucked to produce a dull twang. He also loved rock ‘n’ roll music and danced with the songs on the radio. His dance consisted of bobbing his head deeply and stepping with his feet to the beat of the music. After six-years, I lost him in 1975 when he accidentally went outside the house on my mother’s back and the wind blew him away.

I didn’t have the heart to find another bird-friend until 1993. My husband and I named our new baby, Buzzard Brain III, hoping he would be as musically inclined as Buzzard II. I ached for another pal to enjoy guitar music with me. I still had some of my old music books with parakeet chew marks on the edges of the pages.

Buzzard Brain III had turquoise blue feathers, as opposed to regular blue, and he had a totally different personality than what I intended for him to have. When he had the mind to, he could say pleasant obscenities like: “Buzzard Brain’s a purdy, dirdy, birdy,” “Buzzard Brain’s a big booger,” “Buzzard Brain’s a super, dooper, poddy pooper.” He could also imitate the sound of people brushing their teeth; the caw of a crow; and the sound of the kisses we blew at him, like my first ‘keet had done. But, the similarities ended there.

Buzzard’s favorite pastime, when we let him out, was Seek-and-Find the Butter tray in the kitchen. After much affliction, we learned to cover the butter at all times, or keep it in the refrigerator to get unusable-hard. He also loved to land on my husband’s expensive Stetson hats and mess all over them. We ended up placing Christmas tinsel over everything precious, which scared Buzzy off. In fact, it was Christmas all year round at our place, because we had some nice things that he enjoyed using for perches. Buzzy also enjoyed sitting on the shower rod and dive bombing whoever was in the shower. When I showered, Buzzy liked to land on my head, and I would quickly dunk him under the shower spray to give him a bath. This act wouldn’t mean anything, except that Buzzy hated to take baths of any kind. I had never had that trouble with Buzzy II.

After a few months of living with Buzzard Brain III, I came to the realization that music did not interest him. The few times I played my guitar, he tried to get as far away from me as possible, like escaping. If the radio or CD played, he didn’t take part in dancing with the beat, or singing with the sounds. So, I resigned myself to the fact that music was not on his list of enjoyable things—until one day, we acquired a friend’s old piano, as a loaner. I bought a good beginner’s book and started teaching myself how to play. After two or three weeks, I started noticing that Buzzard Brain literally hung onto my every note, even the bad ones.

His free-standing cage stood next to the piano, and once, while learning to play a blues song, I heard sweet twittering from his direction. If you’ve ever had a parakeet, you’ll know what sweet twittering is. I glanced over and saw Buzz clutching the cage bars, tightly pressing his turquoise body against them, staring at me intently, while he fluffed soft noises through his white beard. So, I played the song again and he twittered and twirped right along with me. I thought, “How cute,” and did not pay any more attention until a few days later, when learning to play Scarborough Fair. My bird-friend again plastered his little body against the cage, “singing” with the piano. Since then, I experimented with different songs. His absolute favorites were the sad songs, blues, and boogie-woogie songs. It felt great to know that I had a musically inclined parakeet after all. Maybe the guitar strings had hurt his little ears in some way, and the songs on the radio just hadn’t interested him. At that time, my husband and I usually listened to country/western music.

In spite of the fact that I was forty-years old, his interest spurred me on to be a great piano player. Age was not a problem in this case, because I would do almost anything to make my bird happy.

I’ve learned three extremely important lessons with this experience. #1: you don’t have to be any bigger than a parakeet to be a good influence on someone. #2: you should keep your mind open for good influences, even if it’s a little bird that weighs less than a pound. #3: you also shouldn’t try to make anyone into someone or something else—each Being should be allowed to be their own individual self.

By the way, Buzzy learned to say, “Buzzard Brain‘s a blues bird!”


Supination and Other Schoolish Gleanings


Thoughts of a Para-Educator by the month of December



The Lady, or the Tiger…irony…Tennis…The Law of Demand

Net Worth…English…Left Ventricle…Concentric Contraction

The Gift of the Magi…Coercive Power…Track Meets…Supination

Expert Power…Referent Power…The Most Dangerous Game

Volleyball… Leadership Efficacy…Biceps Brachii…Triceps Brachii

Leadership Skills…Business EssentialsTo Kill a Mockingbird…Dorsiflexion

Net pay… Basketball…Law of Diminishing Utility…Quizzes

Semi-colons…Physical Science…Commas…Conflict Resolutions

The Eight Chained Orang-Outangs…Football…PSAT…Abduction

Business Management…Semester Finals…The Cask of Amontillado

Rectus Abdominus

My brain faces information-overload,

and only with four classes!