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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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Sleep Is
For The Weak

Chicago Review Press

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At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it. → 

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It's all right to cry, unless your teacher is uncomfortable with emotions

For the next two weeks, I'm participating in the DonorsChoose Blogger Challenge. See the end of this post for details!

My fourth grade teacher wins for Surliest Teacher Ever. His name was Mr. Klein, but I'm almost sure that's not how it was spelled. I can't recall the correct spelling, and this is killing me. It was Clyne or Klyne or Goebbels. Something like that.

Mr. Klein didn't like me, and I didn't like him. My parents couldn't stand him. Now, though, I can't help but feel a little bad for the guy. Because he had no idea what he was up against.


Well hello, Mr. Klein.

(Could I look any more put out by life? Fine, take my picture. Whatevs. Yeah, I know last year I used a brush on my hair, but that's so third grade. Oh, you like my vest? Pfft. I don't even know where I got this.)

Mr. Klein might have given me a hard time, but I'm pretty sure I tortured him. Because there was one thing he couldn't handle: tears. And tears were my mutant superpower. I could soak an entire dress in my tears in seconds. I was always on the verge of weeping. Every report card I have up until fourth grade refers to my crying and whether or not I had it "under control." In fourth grade, I suspect I didn't bother with this whole "control" issue.

Mr. Klein was always on my case for being disorganized and messy. Are any fourth graders capable of organizing their stuff? For whatever reason, the sight of my messy desk drawer filled him with rage. So much so that one day he actually upended my desk and forced me to get on my hands and knees in front of the entire class and clean it up. This was a major error on his part, however, because not only did his outburst set me off, it caused most of the class to follow suit. Faced with twenty kids crying at once, I'm surprised the guy didn't leap out a window.

Now you. Fourth grade. Spill it. I've been loving all your stories. You all get As in my book!

Return next week for fifth and sixth grade (the magical years), seventh (the most embarrassing school photo there ever was), eighth (no, wait, this one is), and ninth (do I have to show you this picture?). allows donors to directly fund projects for teachers in struggling schools. Any amount you can donate will make a huge difference for these teachers! To date we've helped fund FIVE classroom projects. Donate any amount up to $100 and enter the match code FINSLIPPY at checkout, and your donation will be matched. Thank you!

Reader Comments (57)

Fourth grade was kind of the high-water mark for bullying in our school. I actually had my own personal bully, who may or may not have been assigned to me by the school. He was the kind of fourth grader who had 5 o'clock shadow and I would not be surprised if he was STILL in fourth grade. He was three years older than me (I was a precocious little brat) and one time, he picked me up bodily and threw me into a snowbank. The teacher told me that it was because he liked me. You can imagine how healthy and sane my adult romantic relationships have been.

March 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJadzia@Toddlerisms

Oh my, these stories! I, too, am shocked at some of these teachers!!
Alice, I, too, am a crier. Today is my 36th birthday and I am still and will always be a crier. Pretty much any strong negative emotion (fear, anger, frustration, sadness) causes tears. Just the way my body decompresses, I guess.
Your hair-brushing comment made me remember that some of the teachers would walk around with a comb on picture day as we were lined up and comb the hair of those that looked disheveled. EWW!!!
My 4th grade picture is quite dorky. I, too was growing into my adult teeth (as someone else pointed out) and our pose involved us leaning on a faux wooden fence section. Very sophisticated.

March 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

4th grade was Mr. Lusby. He was my all-time favorite teacher; to this day, we still keep in loose touch. He was rail thin, balding, and wore cowboy boots, even with his dark maroon picture-day suit. He was deeply, devoutly Texan and would frequently lapse into passionate speeches about the strength of our Texas ancestors, particularly as displayed in the Battle of the Alamo and San Jacinto. Everyday before lunch, he read aloud to us from the Hank the Cowdog series. Incidentally, he had the best Pete the Barn Cat voice.

Because he was the only male teacher in our school at that time, all the "problem" children were assigned to his class. One particular child, let's call him Diablo, would pitch an absolute demonic temper tantrum every single day but Mr. Lusby was never ruffled. In fact, I remember him firmly telling Diablo one day, "I want you to behave like the good boy I know you are. Other people say you're bad, but I don't see that. I see a little boy who wants to be good. Am I right? Let's knock this tantrum crap off, shall we?" Diablo, snuffling, nodded quietly and returned to his desk. For the remainder of the year, Mr. Lusby gave Diablo special tasks (organizing the book shelves, etc) any time he seemed a bit stressed, on the edge of a tantrum. It worked. Diablo was a model student from that point on (at least from that point on in our class. I'm not sure how he was in any of the subsequent grades).

March 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVenita Michelle

I loved my fourth grade teacher, Mr. Shorter. He was young and excited and instilled passion in his students. My memory is of a lesson in biology during which he drew a picture on the black board of a moose and included the moose poop (droppings?) and the class loved it! I have no idea why.
I was a star student in his class, very shy according to the teachers, but a good student. It was also my last year in that school as my family moved 3 hours away after that year. So the end of the year was very sad for me, leaving friends and teachers and the home we'd lived in. All my classmates signed a giant t-shirt for me with puffy-paint, it's probably in a box somewhere. I sang in the choir and performed in an opera put on by the local college - I was in once scene with a group of children in La Boheme. The audtiton for the part required singing all alone on a stage at the college, I was so proud of myself for singing America the Beautiful all alone like that - I still am. At my new school there was no choir, so it was the end of my singing career.

March 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRaia

WTF is with teachers tipping over kids' desks (in your post and in the comments)??! Please tell me you told your parents and they marched down to the school and punched the teachers in their noses! Please!! I am horrified!!

March 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBeth

Fourth grade I mostly remember Converse high tops being the rage. Mine were pink, but we'd trade with each other so you and your friend would have one pink and one turquoise. My teacher was Mrs. Flint and she was pretty nice but unmemorable. I also remember catching Andrew B looking up my skirt, and I absolutely refused to wear one again unless we had to for special programs at school.

March 20, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdie Frau

You made my heart just stop.

We had a the B's of all B's as a teacher in 2nd grade, and I must have driven her nuts because one morning and oh I remember it well she out of nowhere STOMPED over to my desk and lifted it from the back and dumped it all over the floor and I had to clean it up like some Cinderella.

But I was a different breed than you. I was more Never Let Them See You Cry. My eyes burned with tears but I wouldn't let a single one spill out.

Awful, isn't it? To bruise such a tender, young heart.


I hope there's a teacher hell or that she just felt a sharp jab to her heart, like a voodoo doll.

I'm going to make these post comment sections my virtual voodoo doll.

Thank always, Alice Bradley.

How I love you.

March 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlexandra/Empress

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