Friday, September 26, 2014

Theory 51: Old age reveals the true you.

Most children love to have their parents read to them, right? Sharky is supposed to do charitable work, on behalf of his school, each month. The first idea that popped into my mind (because it's sweet, communicative, and inexpensive) was for him to read to an elderly person at a local nursing home. Why? Because many elderly folks (particularly shut-ins) love to have someone read to them.

The old saying, "Once a man, twice a child" is the root of my theory. Great thinkers from Shakespeare to Sophocles to Plato spun their own unique phrases based on this truth. I agree.  Not only do we return to childish ways, we also reveal our true selves.

I watched my precious father-in-law, a gentleman who served as banking commissioner for the state of Tennessee, a philanthropist who led fundraising efforts for an Appalachian community, a husband and father who loved his family with great passion, a “good man” in every sense of the word, become a child in his last years.

It was hard to watch.

It was also sweet to see. Why? Because, even though he was frustrated, tired, and sometimes impatient, he became even more tolerant, more gentle, and kinder with age. That's not always the case, folks.

That's why I am writing Theory 51: Old age reveals the true you.

You always hear that elderly people suffering from dementia can get combative. I am sure there are medical and psychological reasons for this. I am NOT criticizing the sick. Helk, when I’m preoccupied, confused, or under mental duress, my children and students notice. Nothing is more stressful that managing a roaming toddler (or 212 teenagers) when you are worried about your marriage, your job, a diagnosis, a sick relative, etc. Delicious had a rough week around the anniversary of Pooh's death and admitted, "I am not fit to be out in public right now. I'll just say something mean to somebody." 

Well, Delicious is 67 years old. She is not mean, though she does have a quick wit and could nail some folks if she wanted to. Luckily, she also has maturity and composure. For now. Hmmm….

When I was a baby Bug, maybe 4 years old, Delicious, Pooh, and I were at Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area in the Great Smoky Mountains. Pooh was rock-hopping and fly-fishing his way through the Little River as Delicious and I enjoyed onion dip, Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls, Coca-Cola's, and playing at the river’s edge. A man walked through our site and chatted with Delicious. He noticed something, and said to me, "Come here. I want to show you something." I went to his side, where he pointed to a spot on a tree. He said, "Lean really close and look at this snail. He is climbing this tree." The old man and I, heads together, focused on the tiny creature, leaned within five inches of the hard-working snail. The man asked, "What do you think about that?" 

I replied, "He smells like onions!"

Think about all the humiliating phrases your toddlers have garbled out. Here are just a few I've heard from my own boys:

"Somebody in this car is F. A. T."
“Mama, where’d that man’s teeth go?”
And, for my twisted sisters, “#DTMFB!”

A few weeks ago, Delicious and I were cabin (more like dilapidated treehouse on the ground) window-shopping in Townsend, TN (The Peaceful Side of the Smokies).We dropped in to see our buddy-realtor. We walked into the office, and Delicious said, "Yay! I found the only person in Townsend bigger than I am!"

Geez. I tried to cover, but it was out there. Funny thing is, he just laughed and laughed. They are the same age. 

Roscoe's wife, a West Coast beauty with perfect skin and poise, often reminds her hot-headed husband, “Use your filters.”

Filters. That's what we lose!

We spend years 0-70 building and perfecting our filters at home, at work, in sports arenas, at parties with alcohol, and at church when people try to put us on committees. In our later years, our friends and family watch those decades of "personal improvement" disintegrate with one diagnosis or a couple of strong prescriptions. Ugh. 

I tell my smart-aleck students all the time, "You can think whatever you want. You just can’t say whatever you think."

I've read that a child's true personality develops by age 7. Suppose we all follow individual bell curves—child….up to man…back down to child again—does that mean we turn the impetuous 5-7 and reveal who we are and what we really think?


·         A man I knew, a successful farmer and businessman, was always well-behaved. However, when he got old, his doctor’s office asked him to use the back door because he talk-shouted offensive remarks at patients sitting around the waiting room.

·         One Christmas, my whole extended family was seated around Delicious’s dining room table enjoying chicken salad sandwiches, chili, and chocolate chip cookies when an aunt said, “You know, of all the grandchildren, BT has The. Best. In-laws. Hands down!” My whole extended family, including their spouses, were there.

·         A great aunt said to Delicious, back in an 80’s chubby spell, “Well, Delicious, you have gotten fat. And Bug is well on her way.”

·         In front of a crowd of men, women and children, an absent-minded in-law said, “Wow, Bug, I never realized how LARGE your breasts are!” (I was wearing a swimsuit.)

~ ~ ~ 

My grandmother, known here as “Buddy,” used to say, “Age is no excuse for rudeness.” Amen, Grandmama Buddy! Then again, if I can use senility as an excuse, I could really be free. FREE. Freeeeeeeeeeeee to say what I don’t have the guts to say these young days at 40  years old. Though I do, scarily, hear myself sentence-slipping now and then. I worry. If the real me is a tongue-lashing, lamp-throwing, waiting room harasser, will I even know? Heck, will I even care?

I’d like some fun feedback on this post, ya’ll. Here are some questions to ponder and answer:

1. When we age, we lose teeth, hair, flexibility, cartilage, elasticity, and filters. What else do we lose?

2. What has your child or an elderly relative said that humiliated you? How did you recover?

3. Do you think an old Tall Child will finally tell me to shut the helk up?

Sharky - Mouthy by Genetic Code
I CAN NOT WAIT to hear what the Twisted Sisters have to say in 20 years.

Help? Is anyone out there who can save me?

Ha!!! TGIF!!!

Comment here or on Facebook at Theories: Size 12!

See you next post! Until then, think outside the barn.

Let's talk! Find me and friend me!

Also, visit or my website to read about my book, The Eye of Adoption, my short story, Field Day, and my collection of essays for parents and teachers, Parents, Stop and Think.

Author website:

Facebook: Theories: Size 12 (See each post, comment, share, and talk directly with others readers and me!) I'd LOVE to hear your theories!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Theory 50b: All teachers develop ADHD.

In last week’s post, I explained that all teachers develop ADHD. Then I told you all about a project my students are working on. Then I shared an autobiographical poem. In the poem, I tagged my family members as “interrupters and storytellers.” Those same folks are educators, ya’ll. I wondered and wandered all over the place in that 1,031 word diatribe. Among other topics, I mentioned the following:

Breast reduction
Family members
Go Band!
Money hustling
Common Core
Mad Lib
Oh, and a squirrel!

What’s my point? My point is that I am a victim of Stockholm Syndrome. What is Stockholm Syndrome?

Stockholm Syndrome (per Yahoo Dictionary)
            A psychological syndrome in which a person being held captive beings to identify with and grow sympathetic to his or her captor, simultaneously becoming unsympathetic towards the police or other authorities.

FYI: I hate authority. Even way on back to the Sevierville City Park swimming pool. I’ve always had an “issue” with lifeguards.

The scene:
Lifeguards: Always whistling, “Tweeeeeeeeeeeeet” and yelling, “Stop running!”

As if I could actually run.

Bug: I usually held my nose, penciled into the deep end, and stayed under, swimming to the shallows to get out of the large-and-in-charge teen’s surveillance. I avoided eye contact and stayed under the water (and the radar) until the awkward moment faded. Ugh. Thank God for nachos and Reese Cups to calm my frazzled, misunderstood, self-conscious nerves.

So what’s my point about Stockholm Syndrome? My point is that I have contracted ADHD from my students. Every teacher does.

My teaching buddy J-Bird says he makes to-do lists and only gets half-way through. Foks, he gets half-way through the to-do list, not the to-do's!

ADHD defined (per Mayo Clinic)
Diagnosis: ADHD includes a combination of problems, such as difficulty sustaining attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. Children with ADHD also may struggle with low self-esteem, troubled relationships and poor performance in school.

Every affliction has a cause, right? What could be the cause/causes of ADHD?

·         Our lives are dictated by bells. Literally.
Riiiiiiiiiing, “Everybody sit down”
Riiiiiiiiiing, “You are tardy.” (I can’t wait to retire so I don’t have to use the word ‘tardy’ anymore.)
Riiiiiiiiiing, “Look at the board and start the (no kidding) ‘bell-ringer’ activity.”
Riiiiiiiiiing, “Don’t forget your homework. Don’t forget to log off. Good luck at the game tonight. Yes, you can turn it in later. I don’t know what we did yesterday. Ask another student. Stop running.”
Riiiiiiiiing, “Yay! I can go tee-tee now!”

·         We don’t JUST teach. We constantly switch gears to meet the needs of our students (I have 35 at a time, 4 to 5 classes per day, in a lab with 35 computers). Here are the roles teachers take:
- patrolmen
- secretaries
- coaches
- party-planners
- cheerleaders
- motivational speakers
- role models
- parents
- theorists
- logistical experts
- administrators
- counselors
- referees
- nurses
- policemen

·         Teachers do every single thing we do in a hurry.
We eat fast. I do not pack lunches that need re-heating. That would waste my whole lunch time!
We pack our lunches in a blaze of fury on Sunday nights. I honestly make all my breakfasts, all Gnome’s breakfasts, and all my lunches at once with three rows (5 squares each) of tin foil.
Teachers wear the same black pants three days a week.
We wear our Sunday clothes on Mondays (“God first, laundry second,” according to my teacher buddy Sugar Bear.)
We don’t lock the bathroom stall doors when we tee-tee (if we tee-tee) because, hey, there’s just no time. It’s easier to say, “I’m in here.”

·         We CENSOR to exhaustion: Not students, but ourselves! Delicious says “Teachers constantly self-censor what we say, the tone in which we say it, the volume, everything.” All to avoid trouble, hurting students’ feelings, miscommunication, and the dreaded parent phone call. Oops!

Teachers, how many of you have worried all night about something you’ve said in class? Can I get an AMEN?

Finally, if you haven’t noticed or don’t believe me, I have data to back up my claim. RESEARCH documents that teachers make thousands of responses. I talked about this with Delicious on my way to school and said, “Don’t teachers make about three thousand verbal and non-verbal responses each school day?”

She said, “Oh, no, Bug. It’s THIRTY thousand.”

When I got to school, I asked Red Hot Backspace “How many verbal and non-verbal responses do teachers make during the day?”

She answered, with blunt certainty, “A zillion.”

~ ~ ~

Okay, so I typed everything up to this point in the morning, before class. But, to illustrate this theory and prove that I am right, I am going to do something odd and obnoxious that will make the ADHD causes obvious.

I am going to finish writing this post during second period. Second period is 74 minutes (bell to bell), but I'm only going to use thirty minutes of that time. My students are finishing up a creative project and should need NO instruction from me. They have everything they need on the white board, the interactive board, AND in a Word file on their personal directories. They have the World Wide Web and each other for help.

THAT BEING SAID, every time they, a teacher, a bell, or other thing interrupts me, I’m going to post a picture of a squirrel. I thought about putting a caption detailing the interruption, but there’s no way I can do that AND teach AND moonlight with this blog. Shhhhh. Top secret. Well, consider this research and development. Maybe I can come up with an ADHD version of Airborne (that teacher is a millionaire)!

Understand and say a little prayer for harried, hurried, ADHD teachers everywhere.

I think I’ll diagram a sentence or two, ya’ll! (But in a different way). Let’s just take each of the Mayo Clinic ADHD symptoms one by one and examine them.


Difficulty sustaining attention:
My teaching buddy, let’s call him "Magic Mike" because he half-stripped for Delicious on her 60th birthday, said he can do exactly twenty-three things at the same time. I’d like to see you try, Magic Mike, I’d like to see you try. We do many things at once because that is our comfort zone. The zone of chaos. The zone of multi-tasking, talking, directing, responding, writing, correcting, etc.

Teachers are the most talkative people in the world.
Almost all of us have second jobs. Read Theory 24: Teachers are money hustlers, ya'll.
Have you ever tried to talk to a teacher in her classroom full of students? She pops up and down like a prairie dog at the Knoxville Zoo
Teachers even SAY, “I’m sorry, I’m not listening.”

Impulsive behavior: 
Delicious bought a 70-acre farm one weekend. Delicious and I are trying to find a cabin on the Little River to buy. We’ve already made and lost on two offers. (Top secret. Tall Child has NO idea!)

Low self-esteem
Women eat for comfort, right? You should see the damage we do at in-services lunches. You should see the damaged people at in-services. Wide loads, comin’ through!

Troubled relationships: If we get into fights at home in the morning, we can’t settle them to we return that night! We are too busy, too frazzled, and can’t text at school.

Poor performance in school
I just want to graduate and finish my Master’s Degree before I have to start the dreaded Christmas season. I am too old for this! Oh, and no worries. I love Jesus. I just hate December.

~ ~ ~

So my students have $1500 MacBook Pro’s, iPhones, iPads, and name-brand clothes, while I go to grad school with an Etch-a-Sketch, have the oldest smartphone on planet Earth, tote maxi-pads (a cruel joke on this infertile woman), and wear shrunken Faded Glory shirts and flood-ready britches.

I think it’s time I get an IEP. For ME!

IEP (defined by "About Parenting")
Short for Individualized Education Program, an IEP is the legal document that defines a child's special education program. An IEP includes the disability under which the child qualifies for Special Education Services, the services the team has determined the school will provide, his yearly goals and objectives and any accommodations that must be made to assist his learning.

Hmmm. Let me break this down.

Bug's IEP

Disability: ADHD

Goals (in order of importance and difficulty):
          Lose 10 pounds by Christmas
          Maintain full-time employment
          Publish Student Anthology Project for my freshmen
                                              (Copyright CB Publishing)
          Not get into a single fist fight (manage my rage)
          Learn to use the software I'm supposed to use
          Finish my Theories: Size 12 humor book by summer 2015
          Finish my M. Ed. in December
          Stay safe on Alcoa Highway
          Money from Tall Child to buy all meat and produce (no carbs) at Kroger
          Exercise routine (gross)
          Patience (from the people around me)
          Bota Box in large supply
          Small group settings. Classes of fewer than 15 would be nice. Ha!

Services the school should provide:
         A laptop (I teach technology, and I am sick of carrying this Etch-A-Sketch around.)
         A company car to keep me safer on Alcoa Hwy. Maybe a school bus?
         Catered lunch. To my room. Already heated and ready to eat. And low carb.
         A private bathroom.
         A private weekly session with the school psychologist. Hey, here's here anyway, right?
         An endless supply of Crocs, deoderant, mechanical pencils, jump drives, sticky notes, and, ............................ Adderall and Vyvanse!

I took this one to the streets, well, my classroom actually. Here’s what the students of Lab 211 have to say to my question, “Do teachers have ADHD?”

Response (in loud chorus): “YES!!!”

Bug: “Why do you say that?”

Freshmen Responses:

They all are always running around the halls trying to find things.
They talk fast.
They are easily agitated.
They get off topic.
They lose their smart board pens all the time and freak out.
They're always pacing around the room.

 10 squirrels in 30 minutes. Common Core that, and you will deduce why all teachers develop ADHD!

See you next post! Until then, think outside the barn.

Let's talk! Find me and friend me!

Also, visit or my website to read about my book, The Eye of Adoption, my short story, Field Day, and my collection of essays for parents and teachers, Parents, Stop and Think.

Author website:

Facebook: Theories: Size 12 (See each post, comment, share, and talk directly with others readers and me!) I'd LOVE to hear your theories!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Theory 50a: All teachers develop ADHD. And here's a poem.

I stumbled upon a new theory today: "All teachers develop ADHD."

Only a few years into the profession, I should still be focused and sane, but I'm starting to wonder...and wander.

Delicious says I have "too many irons in the fire." She's right.
My days are packed with teaching, writing, getting another degree, managing my publishing company, raising Sharky and Gnome, and being "everything" to Tall Child. Oh, and I'm on a pre-breast reduction anti-snowman-appearing low carb diet, so I'm always cooking meat. I don't know how the pioneers built log homes and herded cattle without the modern crock pot. Maybe they kept those big cast iron pots over fires for hours and assigned one of the dozen double-named children to keep adding wood underneath some stew. I hate that they didn't enjoy Campbell's Cream of Mushroom. 

Okay, see what I mean? I ramble! Don't all teachers do that? Is it bad that I sometimes stop teaching and tell a funny story for no other reason other than that I am bored out of my mind. Is it bad that I lean out my classroom window at practicing marching band members and yell, "Play Rocky Tooooooop!"?

Go band! 

Maybe I ramble because writers ramble. Most writers I talk to say that, when it's time to wrench out a piece of work, they just sit down and start typing. Fast. With no editing-as-you-go or self-critiquing. They just type away. That's what I do. No outline. My outline is the return/enter key. Writers must "let go" and be all ADHD, wild, and loose. Oh, and they must be SPECIFIC.  To illustrate my new theory, "All teachers develop ADHD," I am not going to write about how "All teachers develop ADHD." I am going to procrastinate, deviate, and possible frustrate. Confession: humor is HARD and time-consuming to write. Forgive me if you don’t laugh today. However, if you do need a chuckle, be sure to "like" Theories: Size 12 on Facebook. My freshman class is providing all sorts of gems by way of strange t-shirts and stranger comments, which I post to the Theories: Size 12 page.

I do have something for you, though.

My students are constructing an anthology. In my "Teachers are money hustlers, ya'll" fashion, I have schemed up a money making plan. I'm testing it on my students. Look, I teach in a lab; I'm supposed to test things on my students, but know this: I will NEVER profit from their work. That would be unethical. But, I can learn from them. Seriously, though, it is an academically rich, cross-curricular, comprehensive, Common Core (gag) project that will be awesome/wondrous when it's finished. My students are writing an anthology. They will be published authors! By doing so, they will master every standard in my course and several in English I and Marketing I. Yippee! I've even drafted the collaboration from some ADHD colleagues, Scone-Ad, Red Hot Backspace, Graphic Arts, and Tech Savvy. 

We have over 400 freshmen. Short stories would produce a mountain of paperwork and be impossible to grade, so students are writing poetry for the anthology.

Look! A squirrel!

What were we talking about? Oh, yeah. Anyhoo, I asked students to read and study George Ella Lyon's original "Where I'm From" poem. Lyon is a southern poet and teacher in Kentucky. A fellow author-teacher-hustler!

Note: Teachers, you can hit the internet to find fantastic templates for her poem. Remember the old Mad Lib books? The templates work that way, but word choices are specific and autobiographical, not random.

Like any good educator, I modeled for my students and drafted my own "Where I'm From" poem, which is the meat of today's blog post. I hope you enjoy it. Oh, and readers, if you know of any small creative writing projects my students may enjoy, message me, comment or email me at Thanks! Happy Friday!

Where I’m From
Jody Dyer

I am from hand-tied trout-luring flies and Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls, from masculine creativity and feminine, abundant love.

I am from the farmhouse at the end of the holler of The Crippled Beagle Farm.  Slanted floors, a crooked chimney, and frosted paneling bedroom walls in East Tennessee winters.

It felt fragile in build and strong in character.
It tasted like homemade beef jerky, chicken and dumplings, fried okra, and cornbread.
It smelled like hops and barley, fermenting in a one-hundred year old hallway.
It sounded like The University of Georgia’s Larry Munson and grownups talking and popping popcorn. After I went to bed.

I'm from Nellie's puppies. Velvet paws and downy Beagle fur, a rolling pile of wet-nosed innocence.

I am from the cedar forest and Kellum Creek.
From Irises and Tawny Day Lilies.
Pale grape lavender and bright orange, intricately designed, dancing against barn wood, into water, and up steep banks.

I’m from opening presents youngest to oldest, rooting for the SEC, gambling at Thanksgiving.
From interrupters and storytellers. From athletes and educators. From strong opinions and attitudes.

From Donna and Scott and Wimmie and Grandmama Freddy.
I’m from the romantic and respectful, the resolute and resourceful.

From raw intelligence.

I’m from picnicking at Metcalf Bottoms and tubing the Little River.

From, “Always anticipate the incompetence of others,” and “You could never do anything in this world to make us not love you, Bug.”

I’m from the preschool, playground, and baptismal of First Baptist Church on the parkway in Pigeon Forge.
Soulful and sweet.

I’m from Sequoyah Presbyterian Church. Pews filled with academics and grace.

I’m from Columbus, Georgia and Sevier County, Tennessee. Celtic, Scots-Irish, English.

A daughter of Appalachia.

I’m from a Division I athlete who won the Bronze star in World War II and his bride, who rode buses to Atlanta every weekend to dance with soldiers. From a Naval Carpenter long at sea and his bride, a hospital pastry cook who sent him pictures of herself in long, lacy nightgowns because she missed him and wanted him to miss her.

I am my nieces’ Crazy Aunt Jody. 
I am writer Jody Cantrell Dyer. 
I am teacher, Mrs. "Um?"
I am wife Baby. 
I am Mama!

Really, I’m just Bug.


Delicious shelling peas at Grandmama Freddy's deck in Columbus, GA

Pooh and a Rainbow Trout

See you next post. Until then, think outside the barn.

~ ~ ~

Let's talk! Find me and friend me!

Also, visit or my website to read about my book, The Eye of Adoption, my short story, Field Day, and my collection of essays for parents and teachers, Parents, Stop and Think.

Author website:

Facebook: Theories: Size 12 (See each post, comment, share, and talk directly with others readers and me!) I'd LOVE to hear your theories!

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