Sunday, September 19, 2004

Exorcising My Demons

I was a good kid in school. I never got in trouble...well, almost never.
There was the occasional lecture on how I shouldn't talk so much to my friend
Sandi but that was always her fault - the girl never shut up! But that's
neither here nor there. What I wanted to talk about was grade school.

I went to Widefield Elementary from 3rd-6th grade. I was notoriously good &
quiet. In fact one year I had to recite a poem in front of the school at an
assembly and this kid Clay made some comment about how no one would hear me cuz
I never talked and I didn't know how to be loud. I showed him - I did GOOD!
But I still digress.

I don't remember when this was implemented, maybe 4th grade, but in the lunch
room we had a giant cardboard stop light up on stage. When the "light" was
green, things were cool. That meant that the noise level was acceptable to the
teacher on duty that day. If it changed to yellow then we were getting too
rowdy and we better settle down. Red, of course, meant DEAD SILENCE! If you
talked, you lost your recess. Simple as that.

One day, the light was red and I had the misfortune of sitting on the end of
the first table. The principal himself, Mr. Wynn, was patrolling the
cafeteria that afternoon and he was on a rampage. He had already sentenced about 5
kids to the hallway for talking. Don't know what we had for lunch that day but
it was messy and I needed a napkin. I mouthed my request to whomever was
sitting across from me but they didn't understand. So I said, quietly I thought,
"Pass the napkins." In the blink of an eye, Mr. Wynn had whipped around and
in that principal-like voice shouted "NO RECESS!!!!!" Well, needless to say, I
was shocked! To plead my case would involve more talking and who knew what
kind of disciplinary action. I simply accepted my punishment and missed
recess. I found myself in the hallway, facing the wall with the loser kids, the
troublemakers. It was AWFUL!!!! Mr. Wynn mentioned afterwards that he was
surprised to see me there. I told him I had only asked for a napkin and he
actually apologized. He was a nice guy, deep down. For a principal.

That stop light tried another time to ruin my fun. Parents were allowed to
come have lunch with their kids and when they did, they were sat at the
furthest back table by the door. One day my Mom came to eat with me and we ended up
with the 6th graders. They were all loud and raucous, even after the red
light was "turned on." Mrs. Fassnacht (whom I detested) came and told the whole
table that they were missing recess and to put their heads down on the table.
Mom actually started to obey her and lay her head down and I said "No, don't
do it!" She kept telling me I had to do what the teacher said but I was
adamant! I sat up straight and pretty soon, here came Mrs. Fassnacht.

"Why don't you have your head down like I told you to," she demanded.

"Because I'm not a 6th grader! My mom came to have lunch with me today and
we were told to sit here! We weren't making any noise and we shouldn't have to
put our heads down! Are you going to make my MOTHER put her head down???"

My mom was mortified to hear me talk back to a teacher but Mrs. F realized
the error of her ways, especially since my mom was the treasurer of the PTA.
She apologized and said we could be excused.

Man, I hated school.

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