Monday, September 28, 2009

Of Gremlins and Desk Fairies

When we were growing up, there was a Gremlin at our house. It was my dad. If one of the little girls in our house forgot to make their bed in the mornings before school, the Gremlin would visit during the day. It didn't need to happen very often.

So, if you were the one who forgot, you would come home from school to find that all the sheets and bedspread and pillowcase had been stripped off of your bed and wadded up into a big pile in the middle. Very shocking the first time it happened, let me tell you. Quickly, we discovered it was FAR easier to make our bed in the morning than to start from scratch making it that afternoon.

I used this idea when I was teaching 3rd grade one year. Never in the history of public education was there a class with messier desks. We had the kind of desks that had an opening as wide as the desk all the way across. Just like this one:

At the beginning of the year as we were passing out supplies, etc. I always drew a little diagram on the board depicting how I wanted the inside of the desks to look. Journals and school box stacked on one side, books on the other. You get the idea. I taught it and encouraged it. Digging around in your desk each time you needed something cost precious classtime.

When I saw the desks begin to get messy, the desk fairy would start coming to visit. She would leave little treats on top of neat desks. A pencil. A piece of candy. A cool new eraser. All with a little note that said, "Love from the Desk Fairy." You get the idea. It always worked.

Until this one year. The Desk Fairy could only find about 2 clean desks when she came. They usually belonged to the same kiddos too. So......

Desk Fairy? Meet the Desk Gremlin!

My students came back from P.E. one day to find that the contents of their desks had been dumped ON TOP of their desks. What a sight it was! On top of that, the trash can had been hidden next door.

They all stopped in their tracks and their mouths fell open when they got inside. "The Desk Gremlin must have come!" I told them. "Better start cleaning!"

As the students gathered up armfuls of trash and papers, they began to walk over to where the trash can usually sat. Hmm. No trash can. Now what?

Me: Can I help you?
Students: Where's the trash can?
Me: Why do you need it?
Students: To throw away all this trash!
Me: Trash? What trash? There can't be any trash in here. You have carefully kept all that paper and stuff in your desk for months! Surely it must be terribly important to you. You'd better take all that treasure home with you.

Yep. I made them load all that stuff in their backpacks. They told me how their mother would not be happy. I told them their teacher wasn't too happy either. I told them use of the trash can was free to all who were willing to get up and walk over to it.

Problem solved.

So, I'm thinking....the Gremlin/Desk Gremlin might just morph into a Toy Gremlin REALLY REALLY soon around here. His weapon might be a box.

Think when they get down to about 10 toys they'll get the idea? I better round up some boxes.


  1. Ha too funny!! I love it. Hey I just had an idea.... when the girls get their bunk beds, could you turn the toy room into a sewing/office for you and S? I mean you all do pay the mortgage right, you should get which ever rooms you want and fill it with what ever you want/need.
    I do the toy clean out every year at about this time to make room for any new things from Christmas and their birthdays. I make them choose what they want to keep and what they want to donate. It works great every time.

    BTW ~ I really like your dad's method : )

  2. Our house had a Glasses Gremlin. My sister and I would take off our glasses at night sometimes forgetting that their Place To Be was on our nightstands next to our beds. If they weren't by my bed in the morning, and they weren't where I remembered taking them off... at some point our dad would say, "Hmmm, looking for your glasses? Gosh, I imagine you could find them if you'd put them where they belonged. I'll bet someone found them and just walked off with them. I wonder where they could be?" And they would be HIDDEN, somewhere in the house. Have you ever looked for your glasses without your glasses to help you see? It's not easy. The Glasses Gremlin was just EVIL. Mine were once on top of the window blinds in the dining room.
    Sadly, as I HAVE inherited my father's sense of humor, my son is probably fated to encounter a gremlin of similarly diabolical nature at some point in his childhood.

  3. Love this idea! We went through our girls' stuffed animals a few months ago, and we counted forty. FORTY for three girls. Too much. So they were allowed to keep six each, the rest went to the orphan's home.

    Toys multiply overnight, or when they get wet. Kinda like, well,

  4. Wow - I truly love this idea and I know of a couple little boys who will be getting a visit from the toy gremlin very soon - once Mommy takes away a bunch of them first I think...

  5. Love it! I have been thinking along these lines tired of my kids not picking up. Makes me crazy.

  6. send that toy gremlin to my house next k?


I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)