Sex Ed in Higher Ed

College instructor teaching human sexuality rants about the dumbing down of America, the lost art of manners, grammar and (the perfect combination of both) the thank you note. Also includes random rants about life, pet peeves, and sometimes raves about favorite things.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

It's Midterms: Do You Know Where YOUR Grandparents Are?

As a student of public health, I can rattle off the top 10 causes of death in the United States like some women can rattle off their bra size (this is not me, because I really don't like to rattle off: I'm an "almost-A"). Heart disease, cancer, stroke, blah, blah, blah. But what the CDC doesn't know is, if you're over a certain age, have grandchildren who are in college and midterms are approaching, the grim reaper is comin' for ya. "Midterms" should be the number one cause of death for grandparents. Midterms started last week and the grandparents - they are droppin' like the proverbial flies.

I should have started this blog a long time ago, because I fear the best stories are behind me. If you will allow me this trip down memory lane, my personal favorite (although not a grandparent - an aunt; aunts also seem to be particularly vulnerable and I just have to wonder, why not uncles?): "My aunt was killed in a freak scubba diving accident." This student e-mailed me about her poor, unfortunate aunt and proceeded to misspell scuba as "scubba" throughout her rambling, tormented, full-of-shit story. Here's the "short" version:

Whole damn family (except my student, of course) went to the Bahamas to celebrate the aunt's birthday. While on the aforementioned scubba diving outing, the aunt bites it. Ain't that a pisser? Your family takes you to the Bahamas to celebrate your birthday, and you die. Kind of makes any vacation stories about food poisoning or Montezuma's revenge sort of, well, not really very interesting. This whole time, I've been avoiding the seafood, when I should have been more worried about dying.

Now, here is where it gets really sketchy: The aunt has 3 little boys who also were apparently not invited to their mother's birthday party in the Bahamas. My student is (fortunately) not in attendance either, so she has to stay in a nearby suburb (near the university, not the Bahamas) to babysit and comfort her 3 little nephews(?) - I think they are actually her cousins, but she said nephews and what the hell do I know? And her grandma (her aunt's mother) was also not in attendance - hey she said that her WHOLE family had been saving and planning for this Bahama-birthday extravaganza forever. But it seems to me that a whole lot of people were left off the guest list. Anyway. Grandma lives nearby, but she can't babysit the nephew-cousins because Grandma is (sadly) waiting for the body of her daughter to be delivered from (say it with me:) the Bahamas.

Let's pretend for a second that this story makes one whit of sense. Heaven forbid I ever have to wait for a relative's body to be delivered to me from anywhere. In spite of my gut-wrenching grief, wouldn't it be possible for me to watch 3 small children at the same time? Or do you need to be in a special room to wait for a corpse? People take kids all kinds of crazy places these days. I don't see why she couldn't take them to do this. But, in addition to struggling with her grief, my student cannot take her midterm today or anytime soon because she has to watch her nephew-cousins. And her grandma, who could normally do it, can't, because she is waiting for this body to be delivered. And we can't begin to plan the funeral or arrange anything because, well, it was a mysterious scubba diving "accident" and the local Bahamian (sp?) police are involved and there will be an investigation that could go on for a very long time. Her nephsins are too little to watch themselves so she is now full-time babysitter until this all gets solved. Hence: she is not able to take my midterm today, or perhaps, ever.

If this actually happened, then I know I now have a guaranteed space in hell (like there was ever any question - but now I have double-secret reservations). But. Is anyone's family SO demanding and crazy that they would say, "Jenny, I know you're in college and all, but Grammy's gotta wait for your aunt's dead body, so how 'bout you move in and stay with your nephsins until we all get on an episode of Unsolved Mysteries?"

This student is trying to get into the radiology program. I think she's a shoe-in for a scholarship in the creative writing department. Or maybe she should go to NYU film school.

And if this shit actually happens or has happened to you, and I am a heartless bitch, well, I'm happy to take it on the chin and I will offer my sincerest apologies to this student. (Did I mention this is the same student who missed 5 classes and then presented me with her "doctor's excuse" which was a cocktail napkin with the words "Ovarian Cyst" scribbled on it?)


Blogger Art Nerd Lauren said...

Once I had to call a prof the morning of a presentation. My mom-mom had died the night before. It was to be an hour long presentation on... some aspect of Roman art. And I...lost it on the phone. I told her I'd email her my paper, because it was totally finished, and I knew that it probably sounded like a bs excuse, but she really did die, do you need the death cert or something?

God bless her, she knew me pretty well, and she knew I wasn't lying. She also knew that my mom-mom was in hospice care and that I'd been sitting with her a lot. But I felt like such a crap, because the old "my grandmom died" excuse is so tired. :)

February 19, 2006 7:26 PM  
Blogger Teacher lady said...

Lauren, my sincerest apologies. If I know the student, I'd like to think I'm a bit more understanding and a bit less skeptical. I bet your Mom-mom was neat. I'm glad your professor was nice. Now I will go quietly and without fuss rot in hell.

February 19, 2006 9:06 PM  
Blogger Art Nerd Lauren said...

Oh, god! No no no, I was so upset because I know about people like this. A lot of people pulled the same stunt even in high school, with the grandparents. It's just funny that it actually HAPPENED TO ME, and that I was so scared she'd think I was bs'ing her!

Now I had a student last year who needed to miss class every Monday. Huh? It was a twice-a-week class!! And her excuse was that her mother was very ill. But apparently only on Mondays. Well, came to find out that the mother? Had DIABETES. And no, she wasn't recently diagnosed, she'd had it for five years. And she wasn't in bad shape, either!! I don't know what happened to this woman every Monday that she needed little Rachel's help.

Even though something did honestly happen to me the night before a big project, I still don't believe any of those lying little liars, till they bring me a note or something :)

February 20, 2006 8:33 AM  
Blogger liberalbanana said...

YEs, death certificate should be required within 90 days of the "death" or the student gets expelled. Stoned. Beheaded.

March 01, 2006 2:49 PM  
Blogger Erika said...

OH my god...that is the funniest thing I've ever read. Thank you for sharing it...every time I saw "scubba" I had fresh tears. I will never be able to spell it correctly again.

March 01, 2006 4:25 PM  
Blogger Teacher lady said...

Or killed (by me) in a freak scuba diving accident!

March 01, 2006 4:29 PM  
Blogger Teacher lady said...

Official welcomes to Liberal Banana and Erika. And Erika, you know what's really scary? Their papers. Talk about never being able to spell certain words correctly again. Now I've started randomly Capitalizing Words for No. Reason in Particular and I can no longer spell seminal vesicle without checking the textbook first. They're ruining me.

March 01, 2006 9:27 PM  
Blogger Isabel said...

The best part? Is this poor grandma who is sitting at home on the couch waiting for the door bell announcing the arrival of the body. I can't get that imagine out of my mind!!! She can never leave her house for fear that she'll miss UPS.

March 02, 2006 3:18 PM  

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