Can a Trash Can Be Popular?


In this year of voting for a new leader in my country, popularity is a most sought after commodity. Should you not vote for the sort of popular person just because she wears pantsuits that you don’t like? Or should you not vote for the opinionated and successful person who is sort of popular, but might wear a hairpiece that you do not like? Decisions about popularity are seemingly pushed along by trite and silly information. But, I do not care for the workings of politics these days. I do care deeply about the trash can situation in my classroom. The trash can is too popular. More well-liked by five year old children than any future president.

Why? What is so great about a trash can? I have no idea. The children certainly do not seem that orderly for the majority of the day. In fact, they are really totally messy. They don’t look messy. They look like they are in a very precious ad for school uniforms. Some of the girls have fancy braids in their long pony tails. Others have curls galore. Some of the boys use gel for their perfectly combed hair. I can’t believe these parents spend so much time in the morning so that their little kindergartners have orderly hairdos and perfectly pressed uniforms. They are just not messy children. Until they arrive in my classroom. All of that pent up neatness just rises to the surface and leaves.

Can they be neat at breakfast? No! We eat breakfast in the classroom. Don’t ask. The whole school eats breakfast in the classrooms. There goes the orderly atmosphere right off the bat. It is downhill from there. I find plastic wrapping from sausage biscuits or breakfast pizzas all day long. Some are hiding in a cubbie. Some are hiding in the reading center behind a book. I mention the plastic wrapping and someone comes running over to throw it away. Is the guilty party the one who runs over? I have no idea. I just know that breakfast is not orderly and I talk about it every day. The trash can is not that popular at breakfast. Thank goodness they eat lunch in the cafeteria. Otherwise, I would have retired a long time ago.

Actually, I wish that we could go to the cafeteria for art projects that cause un-orderly cutting and the un-orderly bottle of glue. Or perhaps, we could go to the cafeteria for writing. Very good idea. I see unfinished sheets of papers under the tables all day. I guess those essays (?) or drawings just were not good enough. I have mentioned the writing folders way too much. They think that their writing needs to reach perfection before entering a folder. I don’t think that at all. I just want them to attempt writing anything at all. To write their name, write some sight words from the word wall, try to write a sentence, write the alphabet. So why are these papers on the floor characterized by hardly any drawings and a few letters? Just not orderly. Messy.

And I will admit that I am not so orderly. I stack up folders and future work all over my desk. Of course, I stack them very neatly at the end of the day…although
no one cares but me. Sometimes, I suddenly have a wild need to clean out a drawer of my desk and make a bigger mess than before. However, it is a bit different with me. I don’t look that entirely precious when I arrive at school. I don’t wear a uniform (although it certainly would be a time saver) and I don’t even know how to braid hair. Our own daughter would have been very unhappy if I had even mentioned the word “braid”. Anyway, I am a little old for braids. So when people visit my classroom, they must look at the children and then look at me and think…”Oh! The teacher is the one who is not orderly”. So untrue.

The messy children continue through the school day looking very precious and neat. And the room gets worse. The trash cans are overflowing onto the floor with who knows what. I have caught some with gum. Some brought food from the cafeteria (not accepted behavior) and some just like to dry their hands with fifteen paper towels instead of one. By the end of the day, we have to stop ten minutes early so that we can put the room back in order.

All I have to say is…”Whoa! It is almost time to go home! This room is a wreck. Somebody do something!”…and the competition to grab the trash cans is ferocious. All hands are on deck. They are cleaning up so fast. They are pushing the trash cans around the room with a great amount of speed. Scary. The trash cans are so very popular at the end of the school day. All for the sake of an orderly room. Plus, the teacher won’t leave until the room is somewhat straightened. She is sure about that. After all, who is going to clean the room if they don’t clean the room? Me. I have a mess of my own to clean up and make orderly.

And that is how a trash can becomes popular.


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