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This blog exists only as an archive. It is a journal that serves as a window into my life as a Marine combat veteran serving in Iraq and Afghanistan; it was written with no filter, no politics and no agenda. Please feel free to follow my journey from beginning to end. Welcome to my life.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Camel Spiders Rule the Day, Again

Well, it is safe to say that a 4th grade elementary school class does not provide the same moments of hilarity as a 2nd grade herd of kids. My visit to Lone Tree Elementary School yesterday went by pretty uneventfully, save for one or two moments. The questions were more or less the same, lots of inquiries about dogs and animals, weather, electricity, etc. Once again, I think the only thing the kids are going to go home and remember are the stories they coaxed out about camel spiders. For some reason kids love larger-than-life, man-eating arachnids.

Really, the only question I received that made me step back and go "whoa", was when a little girl raised her hand very politely and patiently waited on me to call her. Now, to give you a visual, you have to understand that all the other kids are frantically waving their hands back and forth, or using their off-hand to prop up their raised hand, with their heads slumped down towards the desk, as if by asking me a question they were taking years off the end of their lives.

So here's this girl. I see her, notice a sliver of civility and call on her. She lowers her hand, and in her best political candidate voice asks, "What is the health care like in Afghanistan??"

Whoa. Time out. Did I really just get that question as a follow up to "Can dogs smell bad guys?" (for the record I responded with 'I don't think bad guys smell any different...but maybe') So I'm flabbergasted. I don't have any pictures that display healthcare in Afghanistan. I haven't even thought about health care over there myself. But I owed it to her, so, after about 60 seconds of me praising her for such an intelligent question (secretly buying time to develop an answer) I went into a lengthy discussion on the Afghan people's lack of adequate health care/ doctors/ hospitals/ medicine/ understanding of health issues/ hygiene/ clean water/ everything under the sun that Afghanistan lacks that leads to a host of health issues. I may have broken her heart... but she deserved the truth...

I did get one inappropriate question. Unfortunately it came even though my sister Meghan aka "Ms. Wood", had discussed with the class the day before the difference between appropriate and inappropriate questions, even writing down and making a list of the ones that the class developed. So here's this kid, sitting with a list of 'good' questions in front of him, who then raises his hand and asks, "Did you ever see anyone get blown up by a bomb?". Now, I'm pretty easy going, so some kid that's asking a question that 4th grade Jake would have wanted to know is not going to upset me, but, I knew my place and I simply turned to Ms. Wood and said, "Ms. Wood, would you like to take that one?".

My sister was pretty upset with the kid, it was funny, because she put him in his place, but the look on her face was instant "puppy training mode". I thought she was going to pull out a squirt bottle and start spraying him in the face with it or put him in a kennel.

I'll finish this up with a quick story about the only inappropriate thing I said while there. After talking to the class for an hour, it was time for them to head to art class. So Meghan and I walked them through the hallway down to the art room. As the kids are filing into the room, one of the boys stops and proudly turns to me, jubilantly displaying his zip-up hoodie. He looks and says, "Look at my awesome Iowa Hawkeyes sweat shirt." My blood instantly came to a slow boil, he then unzipped it and said, "And look at the sweet Iowa shirt I have underneath it, aren't the Hawkeyes awesome!". I couldn't hold it in any longer. I looked down at this kid who was looking at me in my uniform with wide-eyed wonder and said, "Kid, I hate to break it to you, but I hate the Hawkeyes." I turned and walked away.


  1. Ahhhh Jake, you probably broke that poor kid's heart....but I agree...the Hawkeyes suck!

  2. you, sir, are a dork. I hope you gave that kid your Dwayne Johnson face...

  3. Miss you friend. Cant wait to see you in a week. I hope i am recovered by than. Like the rest of Hawkeye nation my back is sore as hell from carrying the rest of the Big Ten through the bowl season.

  4. At least the Badger hockey team kicked some butt the same night the football teams got theirs handed to them.

  5. I was observing a 6th grade class(as an education student) and we had a soldier home on leave from Mosul(brother of student teacher) come in and discuss Iraq, with a slide show. He got the usual questions until the picture of the prisoner they had captured was brought up.

    He got a whole series of inappropriate questions, things like "Did you shoot that guy in the head?" and "Did you beat him or stab him".

    They just received nos and moved on to the more common questions about weather and guns.

    And, Go Badgers