I've been dreading this one but it's time.
Now, when a kid acts up in school they prescribe Ritalin or send him for counselling. When I was a kid, acting up got me The Strap. I wish I were kidding. I really do.
Grade Three was the worst grade ever. My teacher was Mrs. Jewel, a bitter, exhausted old woman years past retirement age. She was one of those rare people who genuinely did not like children. With my wild imagination, four-second attention span and big fat mouth I was her worst nightmare.
One time we were given crayons, paper and an assignment. Mrs. Jewel told us to take the first letter of our name and draw a picture of something using that letter. The first letter of my name is "T". I decided to be clever and draw a Tractor with a muddy Tire. Nice and simple.
The tractor was pretty awful, I've never been much of a visual artist. The tire however was awesome. First I drew the outline of a big, exaggerated tire. Then I sat there for a while, trying to figure out how to get mud on the tire. Going outside and collecting mud was out. I didn't have enough brown crayon for the amount of mud I wanted to draw.
I held two crayons in my hand, which sparked a memory. I had seen a drawing somewhere of two crayons taped together, used to make a cool design. I thought about it and reasoned that if two crayons were cool, all the crayons would be the pinnacle of coolness. The result would be an awful mess, much like mud. Perfect!
I grabbed my crayons and started stuffing them in my fist. I got as many as I could hold, at least a dozen different colours, all packed together like cord wood. I got the points down on paper and began muddying the tire. It was great. It looked like crap but I was delighted. I mashed and whirled my crayon-laden fist over the page until the tire was obscured. It was heaven.
Something made me look up. Mrs. Jewel was standing there watching me. I smiled, completely oblivious to her displeasure. She grabbed my hand and took the crayons away. She looked down at me and in a voice reserved for Doctors who have to tell parents their child is dead, said, "That's not how we use our crayons."
I tried to explain but she didn't want to hear it. She looked at my drawing. "What's the first letter of your name?", she asked. "T?", I replied. She pointed at the picture. "Where's the 'T'?" I pointed at the tractor and said, "Right there! See? It's a T-ractor. With a muddy T-ire. I used 'T' twice! Isn't that great?"
She looked at me like I was retarded and said, "You were supposed to use the letter 'T' in your drawing. The shape of the letter 'T'. Your drawing is all wrong. There's no 'T' in it." I was upset. "Yes there is, there are two 'T''s in it. Look!" Her eyes narrowed. "Get out of my class. Go to Mr. Quinn's office, NOW."
I went to Mr. Quinn's office. What choice did I have? I was eight years old. Mr. Quinn was not happy to see me. "Do you know why Mrs. Jewel sent you to my office?", he asked. "No?", I replied. "What do you mean 'No'? Are you being smart with me?". I said, "No, I don't know why I'm here."
Mr. Quinn actually turned purple. I got the strap. It was unpleasant.
When grade four started, Mr. Quinn wasn't there anymore and I never got the strap again. I also found out that Mrs. Jewel had been killed in a car accident over the summer. It was the first time in my life I felt relieved upon hearing that someone had died. When I realized how wrong that was I cried like a baby.
But I was still relieved. And I never got the strap again.
Next Story: They Called Me "Ink Mouth"
Previous Story: I've Got a Rip in My Pants Again