Ropeclimbing: An Elementary School Torture Technique

In elementary school in the late 70s and early 80s, we were required to climb the rope that was hanging from the rafters in the gym.

Rope-climbing day was my own particular nightmare.

Some students could fly up to the top.  I, however, couldn’t make it five inches off of the ground.

I remember walking into the gym and seeing that bastardly rope trailing out of the sky like a giant, evil, hand-cutting snake.

I remember wishing I would’ve known so I could have stayed home that day.

I remember hating the gym teacher who was constantly swinging their whistle around and around. Swish, swish.

I remember praying for a fire drill, a tornado drill, or even an earthquake.

I remember pretending to listen to the vague directions from the wind-pants teacher.

I remember waiting in the line while each and every kid attempted the rope nightmare.

I remember perspiring so much that my hands felt clammy, much like rubber cement.

I remember staring up to the top wondering what this proved to the world.

I remember getting on the monster rope and not moving up an inch.

And, I remember walking away from the horrible rope with my head held down.

Sadly, this was how one was judged.  Gym class was it’s own sort of hell on Earth.  And, quite possibly, a hideous, horrible rite of passage.

Recently, I asked my now fourth-grader what his favorite class was this year.

His answer? Gym class.

I do so hope he is better at rope-climbing than I was.

Even the picture makes me feel a little nauseous.

Even the picture makes me feel a little nauseous.

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Hug a Teacher

The best days are those when a child actually gives a real response to the everyday questions, “How was your day?”

This unbelievable occurrence happened in my household on February 28th at approximately 3:11 p.m.

I notated the date and time because it is a rarity.  Rarer than the talking dog from the film Up.  Rarer than my husband likes his steak.  Rarer than me being on time for an event.  I am talking rare, my friends.

Since my oldest has hit middle school, he arrives home before the rest of the household.  He usually has about 10 minutes before I get there. Most of the time I find him watching The Family Guy on Netflix (he has been instructed since the beginning of time to start his homework, alas it doesn’t happen often without prompting).  This was different.  The TV was silent and the dude was sitting at the computer looking something up on Google.

“How was your day?” I asked.

“It was OK,” he answered.  A typical response at our house.

“That’s good.  Anything else going on?” I questioned, hoping he may add something to the conversation.

“Mom, you know what?”

I turned, shocked that I was actually asked a question!  “What, kiddo?”

“It stinks that it is the end of February.  I liked February.”

My mind raced trying to think of why… Maybe it was because he had one of the leads in our community theater’s production of Willy Wonka (he was Mike TV, appropriately) and we were heading into the final weekend of the show? Maybe because snow days are fewer in March? Maybe because a free Pokemon download wasn’t available after February at Game Stop?  Maybe I should just ask him?  Yeah.  That’s the ticket.

“So, why did you like February?”

“We learned a lot this month in Social Studies.  We learned about all sorts of people I had never heard of,” he replied looking a little melancholy.

“Really?  That’s awesome!” I exclaimed, excited that he is actually absorbing what he has been taught. Then, curiously, I added, “Who was the person you liked learning about the best?”

“Ella Fitzgerald.  She was very talented.  She was an inspiration,” he answered without hesitation.

“Wow, I’m impressed,” I said.

“I know, right?  Who knew February would be such a great month in Social Studies!” he said, jumping onto Minecraft on his iPod.

“So true,” I said as I began humming a little Ella.

I will be hugging his teacher soon.  For sure.

And he is back on technology. Again.

And he is back on technology. Again.

The Big Game

Tonight is Big Game night.  High school football big rivalries team up against each other for the final fight of the regular season.  But that is not all that will “team” up; sometimes the towns team up against each other, too.

The Big GameFriday Night Lights takes on an entire new meaning in my neck of the woods.  I have really never seen anything like it until I moved to this area when I was a junior in high school.  I was completely overwhelmed how an entire high school could, basically, suspend all learning to be athletic supporters (pun intended).  By mid-week, all the hallways were elaborately decorated (students were in and out of classes to do so), students were dressed in daily themes (pajama day, hat day, hippie day – some kids took this one a little too far) and pretty much, the school itself was in a constant state of chaos that all led up to Friday’s end of the school day pep rally and The Big Game. This was my perception as a junior in high school.

Seeing the rivalry as an adult has taken on a whole other dimension for me – one that is almost worse than in my high school days.  At the start of September, before the school year is even in full swing, papers begin to trickle home. “Go Team, Beat the Other Team” t-shirt sales, stickers, information regarding The Big Game and spirit week and community pep rally events. And so it goes.  I have two dudes who both want the “latest and greatest limited edition” t-shirt design created specifically for The Big Game.  There are “all-calls” from the schools about the community bonfire, ticket sales and even spirit day themes.

There was also community outrage about the town’s trick or treat schedule because it conflicted with the scheduled community bonfire/pep rally. Many wrote letters to the editor.  Many complained about it on social media. Many are just plain crazy.

The rivalry may seem a little bit out of control.

This spring, some seniors from my town decided to paint the windows of their Big Game rival school with window paint – less than two weeks before graduation. Unbeknownst to them, the rival school had their windows treated with special UV decals to help keep the rooms cooler.  The window paint ruined the window treatments, costing thousands and thousands of dollars in damage.

Outrage and panic commenced from both towns.  Both communities were quickly playing judge and jury.  Both communities yelled about how horrible these seniors were.  Both communities made a frenzy out of the issue.  Both communities wanted these students to pay – with more than money.  Some of the common phrases heard around the area were: “These students have no respect,” “They should not be able to graduate,” “They should be arrested and have a criminal record,” “They are vandals,” “They should not walk at graduation,” and even as far as saying, “They must have horrible parents!”

Amazingly enough, no one said anything about how this zillion year old rivalry might have affected their judgment. And no one pointed out the fact that they have been raised on this rivalry, so of course they might make a bad decision based on the craziness of The Big Game.  No one mentioned that since the tender age of kindergarten, these students had been going to the community pep rallies and bonfires and dressing up for spirit week and buying the latest, limited-edition Big Game t-shirt.  No one mentioned any of this.  Instead, they wanted these students to miss graduation. Unreal.

Now, I don’t condone their behavior. I would be livid if it was my child, but I do think the issue is more than just a few seniors vandalizing property.  I firmly believe that the rivalry is so ingrained in them they can’t see the forest for the trees. The seniors mentioned above did get to graduate – and walk at graduation to the dismay of some. However, they lost out on some other rights of passage like Senior Day.  And respect.  They were required to perform many hours of community service and make restitution for the ruined windows.  Many people – in both towns – felt this was not enough.  They felt these seniors deserved the book thrown at them.

But, hey, enough about that.  After all, tonight is the big game.  These same community members will be heading to the stadium.  These same community members were a part of the record attendance at the community pep rallies.  These same community members stood in line for hours to buy their Big Game tickets.  These same community members participated in the annual adult party after the community pep rally.  They have purchased those limited-edition t-shirts. They have even trash-talked the rival team for weeks on Facebook (believe me, I have almost blocked people because of this). They are ready for The Big Game.  As they were last year and the year before – even the parents of those window-painting seniors.

IMG_4029So, what am I going to do as a parent to help my dudes put the rivalry in perspective?  I am going to start by skipping The Big Game tonight.  We are going to visit with friends and talk about other things.  We may even play board games, like Life, Sorry and The Game of Things – a big favorite around these parts.

I guess it will be The Big Game with us tonight, without the limited-edition t-shirts.  Monopoly, anyone?

To Give is Human, To Bribe is Divine

String Bean is enjoying fifth grade.  Thank goodness.

The Captain and I were more than ready for the continued horror of the fourth grade to be over.

At the beginning of the String Bean’s fourth grade school year, he was happy, enjoyed going, and was excited to share what he learned.

After a month in, we learned that the rules for fourth grade were quite different from third grade.  One of the biggest rules we learned right from the get go was it’s every man for himself.  I wrote about our struggles here.

If the district really knew what I thought about fourth grade, they might not be too happy.

Being high school teachers, The Captain and I have some strong mild philosophies on education. We believe that our duty as teachers is to teach and empower students, not to tear them down.  For some reason, the fourth grade philosophy is different.  It adds an excited dose of humiliation and public embarrassment into the mix.  Fourth grade for my son this past year beheld a different theory.  It specialized in Darwin’s survival of the fittest.  Not a good thing.

By the last nine weeks, it got to the point where my husband, The Captain, started bribing String Bean.

Let me rewind for a moment.  The Captain does not believe in giving monetary rewards for grades.  He does not believe in giving gifts for grades.  He does not believe in any tangible rewards for grades.  Until now.

In the car this past spring, the dudes were talking about the upcoming state mandated tests.

“My class gets to have a movie day Friday after our tests are over,” Squishy said, happily.

“Well, we get a cool pizza party when our tests are over,” added String Bean.

The Captain is seething. “We let kids graduate when they pass our tests.”

Squishy interjects, “Your butt is going to graduate.”

“Dad’s butt already graduated,” I said.  (Side note: I have boys.  Butt jokes and fart jokes are imperative ways to get everyone’s attention.  It works.  Ask any mom of boys.)

“I don’t think these parties are necessary,” stated The Captain, or, Captain Obvious because it was obvious how he felt about the matter.

“It is a nice motivator for the kids, don’t you think?” I said.  I am the awesome peacemaker/cheerleader/glass half full/uber positive one in the family.

“I don’t think they should be rewarded.  I hate bribes,”  said The Captain.

“Dad, if I do well on the tests, will you get me an XBox 360?” String Bean asks.

I looked over at The Captain.  His ears turned red, a vein pulsated on his neck and he is in a low growl.  The car teetered on silence that seems to stretch on for miles.  No one breathes.  The air is frozen. All are awaiting the response that is surely going to include the word “no” in it.

“Maybe. Well, yes,” he finally said.

What the heck?!

“Yes, I will get you an Xbox 360 if you do well on the tests,” he stated.

I almost steered off of the road.

“Do you realize how expensive those things are?” I quietly asked him.

“No. Fifty bucks or something?” he asked.

“Uh, try two fifty, dude,” I said.  “Plus, we have a Wii already. We really don’t need one.”

Meanwhile, the back seat of the car is all abuzz with the amazing news.  I heard snippets about how awesome Dad was, and the games they were going to get, and how much they needed to get it with two controllers, and that they needed Kinect so even Mom can play games like Just Dance.

The Captain looked pained.

“A deals a deal, dude,” I said to him as we pulled into our destination.

The tests were taken. May ended.  Summer began with the anxiety of when THE RESULTS would come.

It took a while.

Finally, in late July, it arrived.  Believe me when I say that there were many heartbreaking trips to the mailbox – back and forth, back and forth – from May until then.  What happens when kids have time to kill in the summer?  Stalk the mail lady, of course!

On the day of THE LETTER’s miraculous arrival, String Bean grabbed it and raced up the driveway to have me open it on the spot.  To this day I am still unsure of how he knew it was THE LETTER.  All the envelope said was the district name (which is also where The Captain teaches – that letter could’ve been anything.) But it was certainly the one the dudes had been waiting for.

I opened it in a truly dramatic fashion, slowly and meticulously peeling it out of the envelope.  It was “the one.”

The results were there in black and white. String Bean did fine on the tests.  The Captain had to get an XBox 360.

A happy dude!

To give is human, to bribe (only this one time, I promise) was divine.

So excuse me while I go and play Just Dance.  After all, the dudes insisted on it.  So sweet of them!

Under the Big Top

The end of a school year is a circus.

As teachers, we can fight it or we can embrace it.

A circus costume!

I am now embracing the big top and all of the eccentric things that can happen under it.

Students?  They are the audience after all. If it wasn’t for them, there wouldn’t be a show in the big top. Some do not like the show and are vocal about it. Some sneak out of the show never to be seen again. Some are there because they are waiting for the circus treats. Some are there to socialize with the animals – who may, in fact, be other students. Some cheer, some yell, some cry and some are silently waiting until the circus comes to a close.

The animals are ready.

Teachers?  They are the performers.  Some are masters at walking the tightrope.  Some are clowns, laughing and making the last days seem like a hilarious joy ride.  Some are the lion tamers.  They make sure all is well under the big top for the final performance, and navigate all of the hoops with ease.  There is the bearded lady who is counting down the minutes to summer and a good facial.  There is the strong man who willingly holds down the audience and makes sure they stay in their seats until the end of the show.  There are the trapeze artists (like me and The Captain) who feel as if they are on solid ground and the next moment feels the rush of the floor free-falling beneath them.  Swinging and balancing in the air until the final details are complete.  And lastly, there is the tired ringleader, who is hoping for a smooth and serious ending to a lengthy run.

Staff?  They are the tireless crew.  Some make sure the big top is successfully taken down, some clean the big top after the audience leaves and some ensure the big top will rise again.  Without the crew, the circus would not go on.  They are the planners, and the ones in the background who make things run.  Even though they are out of the spotlight, they make things happen.

Circus dogs are a must have.

All that is left is the circus dog, and a good trapeze artist always has one of these at home.

The circus will return, the performance will resume with a new audience, new faces and new tricks.

And that is the power of the big top.

***A brief side note:  This post is dedicated to one of the crew who has made my life as a teacher in my district wonderful.  He is the behind-the-scenes in all areas dealing with technology, and has taught me more than I can ever repay.  He is making a career move, and he will be greatly missed by me and the rest of the circus we call a district.

Tales of the No Good, Very Bad Fourth Grade

String Bean is reaching the end of fourth grade. I must admit that it has been a no good, very bad school year for him.

He liked school in the third grade. He liked school in the second grade. He liked school in the first grade. He liked kindergarten and preschool.

He hates fourth grade.

The homework menace.

Each day after school is a struggle. He has more homework than I assign high school Language Arts students. Some days, we sit for over two hours while he works on his homework. This is not only torture for String Bean, but torture for The Captain and me.

I have to be honest when I say that the homework routine gets really draining. Who knew that 4th grade would be so hard? There are some days when I have come to be the peace maker during homework time. If String Bean gets frustrated, The Captain gets frustrated. The cycle is endless. It usually ends with tears (from the 4th grader) and me calming both parties down. I should have been in politics.

As a teacher, I want both String Bean and Squishy to love school. I want them to enjoy learning and become passionate about subjects that interest them.

But I do not have patience with a grade that is killing my child’s love of school.

The Salt Map of Ohio. I am not even going on record to say how long it took us to make this.

In fourth grade, String Bean had to make a salt map of the state of Ohio. I do not know what the point of this was besides seeing whose parents make the coolest project.

In fourth grade, String Bean had to create a brown bag book report. Now, I am all for book reports, but apparently the brown bag I sent along was not the correct brown bag. Minus 10 points for String Bean because I wasn’t correctly informed.

In fourth grade, String Bean has been sent home with four behavior slips. This is my quiet, Lego building child. Turns out, the behavior slips are not for what one would think are traditional “behavior” issues. One was for neglecting to put his name on his paper. One was for leaving his folder (which was empty) at home. One was for not have eight lines in a poem (he had seven). And the last one, the one that The Captain almost rocketed through the roof about, was when a girl tossed a swing that hit him on the back at recess, he told the teacher about it and the girl said it was his fault and he got into trouble. What a democracy!

As I look toward the light at the end of the tunnel, I hope I can salvage String Bean’s zest for learning. I hope I can remind him of what he liked about school before this year. I hope I can re-engage his curiosity in the world around him. I hope.

But, for now, I will hold my breath, hold my frustration and keep smiling to help him make it to the end of the fourth grade road.

Wish me luck.

I am ready for this sweet smile.

Field Day is the new Hunger Games

As an elementary kid, I was never too excited about field day.  According to my dad, I was a bit of a girly girl (still am!).

I’d rather be hanging with the daisies.

If there was an event in daisy chain necklace making, I would have won the gold.  If there was an event in skipping while singing, I would have been given a trophy.  If there was an event in twirling in circles until falling down dizzy, I would have received a first place ribbon.  Sadly, none of these options were available when I was in school.

We did have sack potato races, balloon tosses, one-legged races and egg/spoon races.  Those were fun.

At Squishy and String Bean’s school, their field day was much different.  Gone were the sack potatoes.  Vanished were the balloon tosses.  Abandoned were the eggs and spoons.  All were replaced by Olympic style battles fit for Odysseus and a slew of Titans. Or Katniss, her faithful Peeta and all of the psycho warriors from District 1.

Kid’s organized sports have nothing on Field Day.

As for preparing for the exclusive Field Day, there has been extensive training in gym class.  For the last month (I am not kidding) there have been time trials, practice races, and even qualifying heats.  With all of the suspense surrounding the day, both dudes were anxious and a little concerned about their events.  Who can blame them?  Training for the summer Olympics sounds vaguely similar to the festivities known as Field Day.

“Mom, you have to pack us water bottles for field day tomorrow.  It is going to be hot and we may get dehydrated,” he stated as if he was a pediatrician.

“OK.  Gotcha.  Anything else you need to get through these mighty games?” I asked, without a hint of sarcasm.

“We need to bring our best to the field,” he said.  I wondered if I let him watch Percy Jackson too often.

Field Day is serious business.

Next year’s Field Day dress code.

Prior to the start of the extreme games fun, as all of the students are gathered outside gripping their water bottles, an announcement came on the PA informing the students of the intricate procedures.  Maybe all of the important items were scattered around the cornucopia or something.

The static voice resembled something like, “Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds be ever in your favor.” Oops – not really.  More like, “Off to the races we go!”

And, with that, String Bean and Squishy were both sacrificed for the games.

The lone ribbon.

After school, there were long faces.  There was only one ribbon given to my dudes.  It was the magical Participation ribbon that only first and second graders receive.  Wise fourth grade String Bean, tired from the exhausting day and discouraged from being ribbonless, dismissed himself to the basement to play on the iPad.  His parting words as he melted down the steps were of the final PA announcement that said, “Congratulations to the winners, and better luck next year to everyone else.”

Squishy lagged behind and, in his first grade humor, regaled tales of his success in the tug-of-war.

“Did you get a ribbon for tug-of-war?” I asked him.

“Nope.  But we were the champs!” he exclaimed, “And I was the reason we won because I was in the back of the line and used my massive muscles to pull the other side down.”

Triumph.

“Why didn’t you get a ribbon?” I inquired.

“Hmmm,” he pondered, “We really didn’t need a ribbon.  Our teacher told us we were awesome and gave us a hug.  That was better than a stupid ribbon,” he said with a big smile on his face.

“I agree, Squishy, I agree.”

Until next year when the games resume again.

True triumph.  Almost better than a daisy chain necklace.  May the odds ever be in your favor.

Open House and the Big Fart

I rushed into open house at Squishy’s elementary school last spring with a sense of trepidation.  It was the middle of our March Madness. First, The Captain was one week from the opening of Thoroughly Modern Millie at his high school (he directed, I choreographed).  Also, spring baseball had started for both boys, and finally, all three of the dudes I live with were in rehearsal for the Wizard of Oz.  Needless to say, I was a human taxi cab and the Open House became one of four stops that evening.

After finding a place to park (because this is not easy on Open House evening), I finally had the chance to get a good look at Squishy.  He had chocolate ice cream all down the front of his white Life is Good t-shirt.  Awesome.

“Squishy, did Grandma really have to give you ice cream the second before I picked you up?” I asked as I took his incredibly sticky hand in mine.

“Mom, I wanted it and she gave it to me. Geez.  I was hungry, but now I want a Star Wars book from the book fair and a brownie,” he replied, quite sure of his goals for the Open House.

“I don’t think so,” I said as we continued through the door.

Squishy dropped my hand and ran down the hall like lightening.  I was hustling behind him, bumping into the massive herd of parents in the hallway.

“Wait up,” I called to him, as I tried to put on a very fake “I have everything under control and my life is really a dream” smile for the parents who turned their heads to look at me.

“I am trying to catch up with you, sweetheart!” I stated to him in an as pleasant as I could get, sing-song voice.

“Mom, you are so slow,” he hollered down the hallway, “Oh, and I farted.  Safety!”

Awesome.  Now my kindergartener has yelled “fart” across a crowed hallway.

But it gets better.  It always does.  A guy I dated for a long while BC – Before Captain, Before Children – was standing nearby with his absolutely beautiful, poster-like family.  And he was smirking.  Did I mention it always gets better?

My fake smile turned into gritted teeth.  My posture changed to that of a wild animal.  My hair turned into the snakes of Medusa.  I smirked back while briskly walking by and said, “Hi there.  Gotta catch up with my little man!”

Secretly, I kind of hoped that the fart would linger and bring the idyllic family to its knees.  That would be awesome.

A picture is worth 1,000 words. This photo was taken at the open house.

Boxing with Perception and Apples

I may rant a little bit today about poisoned apples, Mary Poppins, Snow White and clueless people.  Consider yourself warned.

Here goes:  Sadly, there are many people who have a skewed perception of themselves.

Me this morning before dealing with the wannabe.

In my school, there is one that I am on the brink of giving her a strong dose of reality.  I have turned from Mary Poppins to Snow White’s stepmother in a matter of hours due to her flighty behavior and the scads of students she has poisoned with her song.  I am about to give her the apple so she will shut the hell up.

Maybe you have one of these in your place of work.  Here are some of the underlying (or outward) tendencies they seem to possess:

1.  Think that their opinion is the right one.

2.  Can talk a good game, but can’t walk the walk.

3.  Believe that everyone wants to hear their side.

4.  Does not understand or comprehend any constructive criticism.

5.  Seems clueless about their own reality.

6.  May rationalize their behavior rendering it OK at all times.

7.  Believe they are doing their ultimate best, but, in reality, are mediocre.

8.  Can be found off task over 80% of the time.

9.  Sincerely think they are the sole source on a topic.

10.  Did I mention they can talk a good game?

Me a little later in the day.

So, I am bringing the evil witch out today.  I ended up calling this Snow White-wannabe on something she was saying to students.  Something that had not been approved by our administration.  Something that could have many repercussions.  She tried to talk her good game, but her game wasn’t working for me.  I pressed the issue.  She backed into a corner.  But, alas, she did not fall asleep after taking my apple.  Brainvomit40 also tried to wiggle some sense into the Snow-wannabe’s glass-enclosed head, but she couldn’t work her magic either.  Instead, Snow began ranting to others to join her failing dwarf parade.  I am going to have to give her yet another apple tomorrow…

Me at this very moment.

One day, I, too, would like to be blissfully unaware of my reality.  I, too, would like to float around, believe I am the epitome of knowledge and the source of all wisdom spews from my mouth.  I, too, would like to over rationalize my poor decisions to make them brand-spankin’ new and perfect.  But, honestly, I have a grip on reality.

To enjoy more stories of the lost touch with reality, Snow White-wannabe in my building, check out this post and this post and this post on my dear friend Brainvomit40’s site.  Brainvomit has a great perception, and a grip on reality, by the way.

Apples are ready for tomorrow.

The Spanish Inquisition

As a high school teacher, sometimes the littlest of instances force a reflection on my own less-than-stellar moments as a student and helps me get through some less-than-stellar days on the education front.

So a confession: There were times when I did not behave as a good student.

Spanish class was one of those times.

I was horrible in Spanish class.  From the day I stood in the door of the classroom, to the day I vowed never to take another course from that teacher, I was just an absolutely plain awful student.

Let me back up and explain that this was a difficult time for me.  My dad’s career transferred us from New Jersey to Ohio.  I was a junior in high school, moving away from all of my friends, my networks, my favorite mall (this is important to a teenager) to a town I didn’t understand.  I went from being a Fighting Eagle to a Fighting Quaker (yes, frighteningly enough, this is a real mascot – an oxymoron in itself).  Did I mention that I was a junior?  In high school?

As a new student, I got the thrill of being escorted around the building by the wind-pant wearing, whistle-swinging P.E. teacher.  He led me through the building with an editorial about many different things: who not to hang out with, what not to eat in the cafeteria and where not to sit at the stadium.  He also introduced me to all of my teachers – as they were in the middle of teaching their first period classes.  It was quite embarrassing, if I do say so myself.

He directed me into the Spanish classroom, and I stopped dead in my tracks.  The class was being taught by the wife in The Shining with a pyramid haircut.  I had a flash to being snowed in the high school and this teacher screaming as her students shouted “Red Rum, Red Rum!”  I could not step any further into the door.  This did not bode well for the gym teacher who proceeded to push me as if I was on the defensive line through the doorway.

Mrs. S. looked at me inquisitively, introduced herself and was very nice that day.  It was the first and last time that would happen.

I was awful in her class.  First, I was placed in the back of the room.  This is not a good place for me – especially in a class that was Greek to me, oops, I mean Spanish.  I would try listening to her, I really would, but I couldn’t get the vision of her fighting off Jack Nicholson’s character out of my mind.  The same actress also starred in Popeye – as Olive Oil – so it was Shining or Olive Oil, all day, every day.  Also, Mrs. S. talked like she was eating her face.  It was very disturbing.

After awhile, I began to read in class.  Novels, not Spanish.  This is when Mrs. S. caught on to my less-than-stellar performance as a student.  She began taking away the precious novels I would be reading in class.  I switched to magazines.  She figured that out, too.  Darn.

My mom, Crazy Pat, was concerned when Mrs. S. called her in for a conference.  I told my mom that Mrs. S. was mean and that she reminded me of a horror movie actress.  I also told my mom that Mrs. S. was so boring and she always took my things away.  Did I mention I was awful?

Crazy Pat went in for the conference.  She came home, spread out 12 novels and 16 magazines on the kitchen table.  She told me she believed that I was not acting appropriately, and there was a personality conflict because of it.  She said I needed to apologize the Mrs. S. and start paying attention.

I started paying attention.  But I never apologized.

Driving home from school yesterday, I saw my Spanish teacher walking her dog.  She still had the pyramid haircut.  She still had the inquisitive look on her face.  She still looked exactly like the actress in The Shining.

I felt badly for my behavior as a 16-year-old.  To Mrs. S., I am truly sorry for my poor behavior.  The old saying is true: what comes around goes around.  And it has come full circle now that I am a teacher.  Oh, and one more thing, thanks for giving my novels and magazines to my mom.   I really appreciated it.  Oh, and, sorry for being just plain awful.  OK?  Thanks.

Welcome to Spanish.