Apparently leaving a large piece of coral sitting on my desk is too much temptation for some people. We were talking about cnidarians in Bio 1 so I had it out for a prop. It was about the size of a football, so it was pretty big.

I was sitting at my desk working when I noticed Cathy had come up to my desk. She started taking pens and pencils out of the cup on the corner of my desk and putting them in the coral.

"Cathy. Stop that." Yelling at Cathy doesn't work very well. Which is why I generally don't bother.

"Hey, that's what I thought we should do with the coral." Gretchen and Cathy think alike when it comes to causing trouble. Once I had cover sheets for tests that said "Do Not Write On This Sheet". So they wrote: "Can we staple? Draw? Whiteout? Moisten?" and so forth. Gretchen started helping Cathy. Then Sarah came in. "Hey, that's what I thought of when I saw the coral." And so forth. Pretty soon Jenna had joined them and not only was my cup full of pens empty but they were taking various things off my desk and putting those in the coral too. Then they started with the scotch tape.

"OK, I think that's quite enough. Go away!" Damn punk kids messing up my stuff.

"But Miss Lester, it makes such a good pencil holder."

"I don't care. That's not what it's for." I figured I'd wait until they left to clean it up. If I started while they were still in the room they'd just put all the stuff back in the coral as soon as I could take it out. Finally they left, but not before my coral had pens, pencils, two pairs of scissors, the stapler, some post-it notes, my toy Battlebot, paper clips and some scotch tape hanging off it.

It frightened the freshmen, but luckily the only one who asked questions was Olivia and she knew the students responsible, so she just said, "Oh. Them." Ha ha, even the freshmen think they're insane.

I took all the pens and pencils out of the coral and put them in my cup. Then I took the rest of the stuff out and put the coral back in my cabinet o' dead animals. Every biology teacher should have a cabinet o' dead animals to traumatize the students. It's fun.

Later the juniors came back to class. "Miss Lester, you put away the coral!" Cathy pouted.

"Yes, because it's not a pencil holder! Deal with it." After similar conversations with the others (why are they insulted? it's MY stuff!), we eventually started class.

Partway through class I walked by the corner of my desk and knocked the cup full of pens and pencils. Of course, it fell on the floor and spilled everything everywhere. I sighed. "Crap."

All of a sudden Cathy's voice floated from the back of the room. "If you'd left the pens in the coral like we had them that wouldn't have happened!" She and Gretchen and Seretha start laughing. Sarah and Jenna joined in. Damn them, they had a point. "Shut up!" I picked up all the pens and other items and put them back in the cup.

A few days later I did the same thing and Cathy made the same comment. And I made the same response. The pens, however, are still in a cup on my desk.