Am I nervous? Oh sure. It is never easy to send your babies off into the big bad world. Any parent understands that. We have been blessed that the day when we send them off has been delayed longer than a lot of people - between schools at our church, working at a school, and things like that. But, as with most things, it won't be as bad as we fear or as good as we hope. So the adventure continues.
I've attended both public and private schools. I have worked at both public and private schools. There has been good and bad in every one of those situations. (Well, except ICS. There was only good. Always good. Remember, I have to go back there eventually.) No matter where you go, there is no denying that school brings you some incredible memories. It is funny - as you age you forget all kinds of things. Anniversaries, birthdays, names, addresses, what you were blogging about. But you can still remember the full name of the kid in your kindergarten class that smelled like pee. So in honor of this new opportunity for my kids to establish some great new memories, here are some of my favorites.
AS A STUDENT
- I once got in trouble for punching David Furtado's sandwich. He squished his sandwich every day in lunch. So one day, I did it for him. He told on me. I got in trouble. I still think I got the shaft on that one.
- I rode the bus with Brent Wilburn. He could blow air out of his eyeball. He also taught me how to draw Garfield. But the eyeball thing was way cooler.
- I used to do lots of academic competitions. I played "academic games" from elementary through senior year - you would get together after school with all the other schools and play these different games. Math. English. Social Studies. I always did well, but never was the absolute best. Then in 8th grade I finally won one of them. I was completely numb and blindsided when they called my name. It was the biggest trophy I got in my life. (Go ahead. Laugh. I know you want to. I was a nerd and can't deny it - nor do I want to.)
- In Debate in ninth grade, I went to a competition. I was competing in the extemporaneous division, where you draw a topic and have thirty minutes to write a speech and then go talk about it. Really pompous stuff. And debate is like where all the annoying to-be frat boys start. So there is all this hierarchical garbage. I hated it. Anyway, on this particular day we were being judged by some guys FROM MY SCHOOL. And I decided to open by quoting "God Bless America." Only I accidentally started singing it. They busted out laughing during the speech. Then they came and told everyone on the bus what I did. One of them is dead now. True story.
- In ninth grade my Earth/Space Science teacher hated me. We used to really give him a hard time. I asked him one day what nationality he was, and he responded Polish. I said, "I thought so." He just stared at me. I meant because his last name ended with -ski. We moved school locations mid-year and our class' AC never worked. One day it did and he started class with "Notice anything different today." Alex next to me said, "Your tie matches your socks?" During my first experiment in that new school, I completely violated the rules for using a bunsen burner and struck the flint with the gas going full steam. I was lucky nothing happened. Oh yeah, I also threw up all over him and his desk. He always said he would get us back. Then we all got Incompletes on our report cards. True story.
- My Chemistry class was made up of a bunch of very smart guys - and that is dangerous. I remember they were always pulling junk on the teacher (jumping around when he was writing on the board, ignoring him during experiments, group cheating on tests). Finally one day, he got fed up and yelled at the side of the room where they were messing around during experiments. "YOU ALL ARE A BUNCH OF DISCOURTEOUS NERDS!!!" I was on the other side of the room and I remember all of us just looked at him like, "Uh, what? That's the best you could come up with?" He was so worn out by the end of the year he had a heart attack. True story.
AS A TEACHER
- There are some things that you never ever ever ever imagine yourself saying. I remember actually playing this game with some friends in school - trying to come up with sentences that never had been said. (Already established that I was a nerd, remember?) But as a teacher, there are definitely some things you don't expect. I think my favorite was this one. "HEY! Put your leg back on and stop hitting the other kids with it." No explanation needed.
- Of course, one of my fellow interns topped me in the same week. She was a P.E. teacher. Walking with her students out to the field, she punched out this one. "I'm sorry your eye keeps falling out. Just wipe it off, put it in your pocket, and we'll deal with it after class." The kid had a glass eye and they were getting to the point when they needed a new one, since he was growing. Yup.
- My roommate had a student come up to him and ask, "Mr. Shields. Can I go home early, please? I need to beat the cops to the house." Tim looked at him for a second and said, "Do what you got to do." He told me that he admired the originality of the request - or the truth of it, I guess.
- We watched the O.J. verdict. In my class at Evans High School. I almost had a riot on my hands - a happy riot. Not my brightest moment.
- Last year when I was teaching, one of the students wanted to go get some water. But, we had just been told we weren't allowed to let the freshmen go out to get drinks. It was trying to teach them to use the breaks to get their stuff done. So one kid wants to get a drink. I said no. He said he was going to die of thirst. I said i was sorry to hear that. About two minutes later, he fell over onto the ground. The rest of the class laughed. I had to fight back the laugh - and then I sent him to the office with a referral. He apologized profusely, but I did ask as a bonus question on the next test, "Why did Seth die in class?"
All of that is to say that I look forward to hearing the stories my kids have to tell. Those memories last a lifetime. And I'll make sure they look out for kids with artificial body parts and not sing during speeches.