Aug 6, 2009
A NOT SO PERFECT 10
My 10-year-old nephew is staying with us for the week. Not having children of my own I can say I am definitely NOT an expert with kids that age but I have ‘Uncled’ a bunch of them so I know how to walk the line between generic adult and goofy bad influence. I find that boys that age are pretty easy to win over. I just make a few creative but slightly gross bodily function jokes and I’m in. Then again, that has always been my method to win most people over. It certainly is the same philosophy behind 3/4s of the kids animated movies these days.
I do not remember feeling as little, young or immature at that age as my nephew seems to me, although I am sure I was. I know I was far more annoying and obnoxious then he is. I dug out my old 4th and 5th grade class pictures and I do not look any more worldly then he does. Of course it is hard to tell behind the groovy early 1970’s hair and clothes. Looking at the pictures did bring back some scary memories of when I was my nephew’s age.
My fourth grade teacher was Mrs. Hunt, a mean old coot on the latter side of her career who was so close to her retirement if she spat she would have hit her pension. She seemed done with teaching and was obviously just going through the motions. She frequently leaned in my face when she loudly admonished me for my usual lack of discretion. When she talked, little drops of spittle would shoot through her rattling false teeth. The more excited she got, the more her teeth would rattle and the more balls of spit you had to dodge. After getting in trouble for throwing crayons out of our second floor window in an amazingly successful attempt of hitting a napping driver through a half opened window above the front seat of a school bus, my classroom seat, despite my height, was moved to the front row where I spent the rest of the year blocking the shorter children behind me and dodging the daily spit-fest in front.
Fourth grade was a wash for me; I mostly picked up bad habits there. I really looked forward to the next year and getting to start fresh with someone new. I had a wonderful 5th grade teacher that helped me focus and learn. She was young, presumably had her own teeth, never spat on us and seemed truly excited about educating us until she left on maternity leave about three months into the school year.
For the rest of the year I got stuck with the evil Mrs. Jensis, a miserable beast of a substitute that never had any control of the class and managed to make the cackling spit-laden anemic lessons of Mrs. Hunt seem downright dynamic. Mrs. Jensis was a big heavyset woman that was devoid of personality and as soon as she took over the class my mischievous behavior kicked in again. To strap in her wide girth she wore a huge thick girdle with a circular grid pattern under her tight 1970’s polyester slacks. Before class we often placed numerous multi-color thumbtacks on her chair and, on the rare occasions she bothered to drag her fat butt out from behind her desk to write on the chalkboard, we would see who’s color tack got closer to making a bull’s eye.
Mrs. Hunt and Jensis exemplified everything bad with the school system. I fell behind in math in their classes and really never recovered my entire school career. Luckily I had a very high reading level, so I always got by on my English grades. The teachers quickly caught on that the best way to get disruptive Dan to behave was not to challenge or teach me but to get me out of the classroom. I soon became monitor of everything. I was milk monitor delivering little ½ pint cardboard containers of milk to the kindergarten kids. I was AV monitor rolling the antiquated movie projector to show heavily spliced classics like Hemo the Magnificent to every class. I also was briefly Science Lab monitor and score checker for SRA (cheesy individual reading comprehension quizzes popular back then).
All these memories are very vivid yet I know they are filtered through the eyes of a 10 year-old. I hope when my nephew is my age the memories of this vacation filtered through his current ten-year old eyes are all good and fun.
CLICK TO SEE MRS. HUNT AND THE REST OF DAN’S FOURTH GRADE CLASS.
CLICK TO SEE MRS. JENSIS (THE KID IS NOT ME!!!)
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