Tuesday, March 31, 2009


There is such a thing as Universal Knowledge.  There are just some things that we all "know."  We might find ourselves a bit lost in certain social situations or when exploring other cultures, I'll admit this.  But, for the most part, we can all pretty much wander around knowing what things are, what stuff means and that it is poor form to pick your nose at the salad bar.

Parts of our lives, though, are governed by Specialized Knowledge.  This is usually Career Stuff.  There are oodles of things I don't need to know.  I don't have to be able to define everything.  For example, I will probably never, ever have to use terms like "glucose drip," tensile strength," or "fiduciary" at any point in my work-a-day life.  And I almost never have to call anyone "Mr. President."

You may need to use those terms.  I do not.  I have my own Specialized Knowledge.  For example, I know this:

When there is a large group of middle schoolers gathered in the hallway and all looking in the same direction, something of note is happening.

Impressive, no?  Get this one:

When that same group of middle schoolers is gathered in the hallway, looking in the same direction and bearing expressions ranging from excitement to outright glee, something very, very bad is about to happen.

There is no class on this subject at Teacher School.  You just kind of pick it up as you go along.  It's very handy knowledge to have.  I unearthed this bit of data from the Smart Stuff Bank this morning as I was patrolling the halls of my school, desperately trying to locate the half of my homeroom that had yet to show up.  I saw The Gathering.  I took note of The Synchronized Gazing.  I prayed to every deity that might possibly have some scrap of hope to offer me that I might not see The Glee.

But I did.  

And so investigated.  It was a fight a-brewin'.  Worse, it involved one of my students.  Even more worser, it was The Kid Who Really, Really Tries To Do Better.  I did my duty as an educator, interrupted what looked like a Swing In Progress and convinced my student to walk away.  I will leave out the juicy details out of respect for the combatants, but teen-aged hormones were flying everywhere and the language was...saucy.  

Within the hour, no fewer than four people commended me on my bravery and deft handling of the situation.  Which was fraught with wrongs, by the way.  Unless you know for an absolute certainty that you have a good enough relationship with a kid, you don't ever, ever, ever get between two of 'em when they are fighting.  Are we very clear on this?  Kids big.  Sheepie small.  Sheepie was working on sheer confidence in the goodwill of one kid.  Sheepie didn't know the other one and was hoping for the best...   

That judgement call aside, I couldn't help but ponder something at that point.  If there were that many people around to witness the scuffle then...

Where the heck were they?????  Why was I the only one to notice a large group of kids exhibiting clear glee?  And who elected me the School Referee?

I'm glad I knit.  Knitting is soothing except when it isn't.  But today it was and I finished the ribbing on my sock-in-progress while I contemplated adding more weight training to my workout routine.  Apparently I'm going to be adding security terminology to my Specific Knowledge Base and I probably should have the muscle to back it up.

I sometimes marvel over the fact that Mommy Sheep raised two kids and that both of us were, at one point or another, middle schoolers.  I like to think that we were good ones and I don't think that we ever got into any fist fights.  Still, I suppose we offered up our share of challenges.  So on this, her birthday, I extend my best wishes for a wonderful day and any apologies that might be required for my middle school years.  Happy Birthday, Mommy Sheep!

Keep an eye on the mail.  I've done the math and it does not appear that getting your card to you on time is within my scope of Specialized Knowledge.  But isn't it nice that I can duck a punch?



Anonymous said...

Many thanks. This was a very nice day for me. Turning 70 gets a Mommy Sheep a lot of cards, a great gift from Dad, and new windows across the Lakeshore Drive side of the winter quarters. Your brother called too. Rest assured you and your brother were not difficult sheep. We enjoyed a lot of good times together when you were ever so young!
Mommy Sheep

trek said...

Aw, I got to read Mommy Sheep's comment first! But that means that she won't get to read my Happy Birthday to Mommy Sheep comment.

Sheepie, honestly. You got in between a fist and its target? What were you thinking?!

Was it before your second cup of coffee? That must be it.

And I agree with you: where were the other educators?!

Anonymous said...

I am so glad you did not end up on the wrong end of a punch. Or worse -- were there weapons involved? You need to raise that question of "where were the other educators?" at the next faculty meeting. See how much guilt you can inflict.

=Tamar said...

Where were they? Cowering, obviously. The compliments were for _bravery_ as much as for peacemaking.

dangerousLee said...

This is odd. Mommy Sheep's b'day is 5 days before Uncle Sheep's. How is it that she is 6 years younger? Oh well, must be that new math. Like when a train leaves Chicago? I remember my dad telling me of when he was teaching. If an unpopular student was getting beat up, the teachers took longer to get to the fight to break it up. Were either of the students unpopular with the teachers? BTW, Happy B'day Aunt Sheep!!

Kath said...

Oh Sheepie - vewy skewy thing to do! But I supect that even if Sheepie is small, she walks big.

And as for those onlookers who did nothing? Thirty lashes with a wet noodle and a free ride on the guilt train. Lame, very lame - we are not impressed.

Betsy said...

This, OF COURSE, never happened when those oldsters of us went to JUNIOR HIGH...OBVIOUSLY the problems started when the name was changed to Middle School :>)...

Seriously...have a happyhappy Mama Sheep...it's amazing what a thrill new windows can be, isn't it?

crzjane said...

Maybe you should work in a little foot work with your work out routine. You might dazzle them.
Happy Birthday to Mommy Sheepie. Hope she gets lots of cake. Cake is good.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the birthday greetings one and all. Trust the elder sheep,in her youth MS. Sheep was a fighter with words, not her hoofs. She is a brave sheep, and a very proactive one too.
M. S.

Karen said...

Happy Birthday Mommy Sheep!!

You are a brave sheep stepping between those boys, crazy too maybe.

Donna Lee said...

I did the "get in between a fist and a target" thing only my head became the recipient of the blow intended for the target. It was hard enough to knock my glasses off and send me to my knees. I was gratified to see that "hitting the teacher" stopped the fight from progressing any further but, still, it was not fun. The kid who did the hitting was mortified (he was a kid who liked me)and apologized over and over. I wasn't hurt, just a headache. It gave me a weird status among the tough kids.

Anonymous said...

Now that's one nice Mommy Sheep you've got to tell lies like that - we all know that EVERY middle school child is difficult!

Happy be-lated Birthday, Mommy Sheep :-)

sophanne said...


Are we seeing the pattern?

Cursing Mama said...

I swear I have never gathered in such a manner with glee in my eyes (fingers crossed).

I also swear (remember, fingers crossed) that I have not accidentally (or on purpose) married someone who received the attentions of that kind of gleeful group.

Congratulations to you for making out unscathed and special congratulations & good wishes to Mommy Sheep who also appears to have made it out unscathed.

Beth said...

Happy birthday to Mommy Sheep!

You're one brave educator, SA! I witnessed a fight while in 7th grade that ended up with one petite math teacher on her bottom and the tall thin male teacher getting swung at, too. I don't remember what happened because I think I was getting out of there.

catsmum said...

A very happy belated birthday birthday from Australia for Mummy Sheep who obviously did a brilliant job of lamb raising.

Jeanne said...

Yikes. Do you get Hazard pay for that?

Lynne said...

Happy birthday, Mommy Sheep.

In my all-girl high school my gambit for fist fights was to head to the library till it was all over! There is still nothing uglier to me than two women "going for it"!

You're a brave woman! But I know, as a fellow educator, that sometimes "we just gotta do what we gotta do"!