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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan. 31, 2005 /21 Shevat, 5765

Subbing turns mom into fly on the wall

By Marybeth Hicks



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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Ever want to be a fly on the wall at your teenager's high school? Flapping your tiny wings a million times per second, you'd buzz from room to room for an insider's view of life as a teen. Assuming nobody swatted you, you might even learn a few things.


For an entire semester, I've donned the buggy-eyed, swift-winged existence of a housefly, flitting from classroom to classroom as a substitute teacher. That's right   —   I'm "The Sub."


As a writer and mother, subbing seemed like the perfect part-time job. I work as little or as much as I like, accepting assignments on days when it's convenient for me, declining when I'm already booked with writing, housework or activities for my children.


Without a teaching certificate, my subbing alternatives are limited to the parochial schools in my area that require only a college degree and some relevant work experience. I ruled out the elementary grades as I've already heard enough flatulence jokes to last a lifetime. I have a fifth grade son, after all.


So after obtaining an OK from my daughter, a sophomore, I signed onto the sub roster at our Catholic high school.


My first assignment? Art. Never mind that I can't really draw much beyond stick figures. I was headed to the classroom.


The night before my subbing debut, I lay in bed practicing what I'd say at the start of class. I figured I'd offer an abbreviated version of my resume, bolstering my credibility and creating an atmosphere of respect to offset any assumption that I was just a glorified baby sitter.


Within the first 60 seconds, I realized I was, in fact, just a glorified baby sitter. Nobody needed to know my name, much less my professional or educational background.


What they really wanted to know was whether I would liberally grant passes to the bathroom or if they'd have to hop from foot to foot to convince me of their urgent need for indoor plumbing.


After a few substitute teaching assignments, my daughter let me know my reputation: I'm "The Cool Sub." Ironically, this is the first time I've ever been cool in high school. I'm not putting too much stock in this information, though. I know I'm only cool because I don't consider myself a teacher.


Instead, I view my role as a human sedative. As long as I keep noise and energy levels from escalating beyond "reasonably rowdy" to "completely uncontrolled," I'm doing my job. Also, I don't mark people tardy, I don't report dress code violations, and I don't make a huge fuss about chewing gum unless it passes through a student's lips and becomes a potential health hazard for everyone else.


If there's a trick to subbing, it's "never let 'em see you sweat."


Case in point: To kill time with a roomful of freshmen I introduce them to a party game called "Personalities." Each person writes the name of a celebrity on a slip of paper, and then the names are read aloud twice. Players can't make a list of the names   —   they have to remember them. The game is to guess who wrote each celebrity name, testing memory and insight into the other players (my educational excuse to play).


I explain the rules and pass out slips of paper, roaming the room to collect their entries. Resuming my place at the podium, I slowly read the names aloud. "George Bush" ... "Britney Spears" ... "Shaquille O'Neal."


All the celebrity names are familiar to me except one. I read it anyway   —   it's something like "Bambi" or "Fawn."


As soon as I say the name aloud, all the boys fall apart. One student literally tips backward in his chair and lands on the floor. A few guys laugh so hard they start crying.


Clearly, this is the name of a porn star. I've been played.


I decide to prove I can't be rattled so easily. I read the celebrity monikers again, in the same order, only when I get to "Bambi" (or was it "Fawn"?) I say it louder, enunciating clearly, smiling right at the student I think is responsible. He shrinks a little in his chair. Probably, it's dawned on him that I know his mother.


Subbing doesn't pay enough for this kind of stress.


In fact, I think they should compensate subs in chocolate and Merlot. After you figure in the cost of working (taxes, transportation, dry-cleaning, the inevitable pizza or Chinese takeout), that's about all you can get out of it.


Then again, it's enlightening, if not lucrative. My occasional stints as a sub remind me how much pressure teenagers feel to fit in, to stand out, to be invisible, to be recognized   —   all while enduring pop quizzes, acne and the scrutiny of their peers.


There are surveys and studies that tell us things are different for today's teens than for generations past. The impact of technology and the standards for success have raised the bar.


Still, buzzing through the harrowing halls of high school, the atmosphere feels to me a lot like it did 25 years ago.


If nothing else, subbing helps me remember this every afternoon when I ask my sophomore daughter, "How was your day?"

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JWR contributor Marybeth Hicks, a wife of 17 years and mother of four children, lives in the Midwest. She uses her column to share her perspective on issues and experiences that shape families nationwide. To comment, please click here.


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© 2005, Marybeth Hicks