In retrospect, getting booted out of the first grade was one of the best things that ever happened to me. When I returned a year later, I was older than my fellow students, bigger than many, and at least as coordinated. More importantly, my brain had advanced to the point where it didn’t embarrass me.
I even made the decision in the rough and tumble world of first grade politics that it was my job to rule. No one agreed of course; why should they? But I wasn’t alone in such delusions. My major competition was another first grader named Joe. He was even less civilized than I, if that’s possible, a true barbarian. He rightfully recognized there could be only one leader of the pack but mistakenly thought it should be him. Obviously, we had to fight. Unfortunately, Mrs. Young didn’t understand the necessity of our action, even though I explained it to her. It only confirmed her already low opinion of me. I received my first and only school spanking as a reward.
While I was learning the subtleties of power politics, my academic life was suffering; either that or Mrs. Young had decided there wasn’t much hope for Marge Mekemson’s kid. My report cards read C right across the line except where it recorded behavior. All of those categories were marked ‘needs improvement.’ Talks in class, needs improvement; is courteous at all times; needs more improvement. You get the idea. I couldn’t even dress right. I wonder if Mrs. Young knew my attire didn’t include underwear. I thought it was a sissy thing to do until I caught a rather sensitive part of my anatomy in the zipper. That was educational. I learned more about clothing in one second than I did in a whole year of Mrs. Young’s harping.
Eventually, after two years of trying, I made it out of the first grade and began to enjoy school. It turned out that my second and third grade teacher, Miss Jones, was also my Godmother. She had to like me. All sorts of Biblical rules apply. Thus it was that a dash of Holy Water changed my whole perspective on education. I actually wanted to please the teacher. I went from class rebel to teacher’s pet.
“Can I clean the black boards, Miss Jones? Can I empty the trash? Can I, can I, can I?” No chore was too menial. Had my fellow second graders known the word they would have called me a sycophant instead of a kiss-up, or worse.
So, what changed? Mrs. Young was a good teacher as I am sure several generations of graduates from Diamond Elementary would attest. But she was ‘old school’ and her world was one of rules and corporal punishment. Each year she was faced with the daunting task of taming a new group of wild beasts and this required discipline. It was not my ideal environment. I’ve never done particularly well at rules.
MONDAY’S Travel Blog POST: Homeland Security goes looking for a bomb in our food containers for our Grand Canyon raft trip. Doesn’t everyone carry a dozen or so ammo cans when they travel?
WEDNESDAY’S Photo Blog POST: A trip up the Amazon River with Piranhas for dinner. It’s better to eat than be eaten.
FRIDAY’S Blog a Book POST: The magic of reading.