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Washing Paper Plates

Life in a second language learner’s classroom:  

We are having a fund raiser spaghetti dinner at the school tonight.  The teachers are to be the wait-staff.  One of my students asked, “What’s wait-staff?”  I said, “You know, cooks, waiters, dishwashers — the folks that do the work so all you have to do is sit and eat.”

“Dishwashers!”  Jimmy exclaimed.  “You’re going to wash paper plates!?”

Before I could answer Jake chimed in, “Gross!  They’d better wash my plate or I’m not eating!”

The class cracked up laughing. Jake looked around in surprise.  Jimmy pulled a sheet of paper from his notebook and waved it him.  “Paper, Jake!  The plate is going to be made of paper!”

Jake looked at me and demanded incredulously, “We have to eat off paper?” At this point his classmates were all but rolling on the floor laughing and he was edging toward defensive.

I went to the cupboard and pulled out a paper plate.  I handed it to Jake.  He turned bright red and said, “Oh.”  Then he exclaimed, “Well why didn’t somebody just say so?”

Jimmy put his face in his hands and muttered, “Oi vey!”

Quilly is the pseudonym of Charlene L. Amsden, who lives on The Big Island in Hawaii. When she is not hanging out with Amoeba, she is likely teaching or sewing. Or she could be cooking, taking photographs, or even writing. But if she's not doing any of that, she's probably on Facebook or tinkering with her blog.


  1. Melli — I found it with both spellings — I chose the spelling from the one claiming claiming yiddish heritage. That doesn’t mean I chose correctly.

  2. Just as well they were focused on paper plates and Hispanic Yiddish. Otherwise somebody would have asked: if they expect you to do all this running around, why do they call you “WAIT staff”?

    ¡Ingles es loco!


  3. Quilly…..My first thought was, “Jimmy is a Yiddish name?” Another great story!…………Judy

  4. All of that over paper plates. Its the little things ythat make life exciting and funny. The little things as seen by children.

  5. OC — you stole my favorite line! We need to work on your accent, though.

    Judy — these kids are blog treaure!

    Dr. John — small things amuse small minds? :p

    Lori — you COOK on paper? 😉

  6. I want to know why the teachers are the wait-staff. I think you deserve a break! The students should be the wait-staff!

  7. Mumma — funny, that was my thought. Normally the PTO would do this, but we haven’t got a PTO. Parents don’t support our school much, which includes supporting behavior consequences, attending Parent-Teacher Conferences, answering phone calls, coming to their children’s programs ….

    In fact, frequently when parents do contact us about their child’s behavior, they want us to punish the kid for something s/he has done at home! It’s a strange new world here ….

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