Return to The Classroom
Some days one should not think of getting out of bed. Yesterday was all of them.
I had accepted my Aunt Martha's request to teach her grade three class while she endured a root canal procedure. Being a man of letters and editor of our town's weekend newspaper, I thought it appropriate of allowing today's youth to benefit from my knowledge and experience.
I arrived early at the school and graded the fifty-word essays that Aunt Martha's students had submitted the day before. I red-penciled their works with clear and concise comments like 'run on sentence,' 'dangling participle', 'mis-placed modifier, and countless 'sp' notations for spelling mistakes. My heart sank below my shoes on seeing one entry without punctuation and the word 'naybor' used in seventeen phrases.
The Principal found me in the staffroom at eight fifteen. She seemed a jolly one full of understanding and self control. She saw the sheaf of essays in my hand and complimented me for having much work for the students, "that will no doubt keep them quiet for the entire day." We exchanged more pleasantries over coffee. It appeared that all she wanted me to accomplish was to maintain a quiet classroom. Hmm, I thought, this day will be easier than I thought.
At eight-forty-five I opened the classroom door and thirty screaming little girls stampeded into the room. Thirty desks, each with four legs of noisemaking terror, were arranged in a circle. Thirty desks, all used as screeching instruments of mayhem and thirty howling moppets reduced me to whimpering jelly full of helplessness and fear. Aunt Martha, please trade places with me, I prayed.
Inside my terrified soul, I begged, "Where is my *#^^*@ @ #@#!!** Guardian angel."
The Principal, speaking on the PA system in her sound proof office, asked for quiet in the grade three classroom. THEY laughed. More chaos followed. After the prayer and anthem, I handed out the essays by shouting the owners' names. I soon needed throat lozenges and bourbon.
"Hey you geek," cried one, with her eyes filling with tears, "what do the red pencil marks mean?"
I rushed to her side and held her essay aloft so all could see. "Dangling gerund uh, Ambiguous reference uh, and uh, incorrect modification," I said with what I believed was a kindly face. I was now getting their attention, I thought, and from here on I would help little scholars attain writing success.
Well, that was a nice thought, I said to myself as crying and wailing ensued. And loud stamping of feet.
And the door opened. Behold, the now snarling principal, with arms akimbo, and her lower body parts filling the doorway. Such an entrance, I thought, is she another Lady MacBeth?
The battalion of little girls quieted and the principal beckoned me. I walked passed her and never stopped until I reached the noisefree Casey's library bar with liquid relief and far from scholastic hell.