Monday, April 4, 2016

Leave The Neighbors Alone

     I've started telling people that I'm 5 years old with 30 years of experience. Because I think that sounds funny.  Wait, am I 35 or 34?…born in '81…birthday's in June…fuck I'm 34.  I clearly don't even know how old I am.  But whatever.  I'm bad at math.  I blame the Springfield Public School System and my 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. LeMay; who didn't like me.  But to be fair, I didn't like her either.
     Mrs. LeMay was the 3rd grade teacher that everyone wanted.  She bribed kids with candy to get good grades and she was known for doing art projects.  I can't imagine food bribery would go over well in this day and age with childhood obesity, diabetes and everyone with their food allergies.  But it was the 80's and back then we thought slogans like "Just Say No," would halt a drug epidemic in its tracks.
     I remember being excited on the last day of 2nd grade, because we found out who our teachers would be.  My best friend and I were overjoyed when we found out we would both be in the same class again and have the teacher we really wanted.  My grandmother used to volunteer in Mrs. LeMay's classroom whenever they were doing art projects.  So I would always get to hear about all of the seasonal projects the class was working on.  Every spring the 3rd graders would put on a puppet show for the entire school.  If you were one of the lucky kids who had Mrs. LeMay, you would get to construct ugly puppets out of old knee high stocking and toilet paper tubes.  And who the hell would want to do actual work when there were filthy old sock puppets to build?
     I apparently, had undiagnosed Attention Deficit Disorder.  I may have also been bored in school, hopped up on sugar and not getting enough exercise.  However, for all intents and purposes we'll blame the ADD for this one.
    I recall trying to listen to Mrs. LeMay conduct her lessons and for whatever reason began to feel that she was talking down to us.  I tried to focus, if only so I could get a Snickers bar for passing a Spelling test.  The bribery angle worked for a little while but her demeanor was just so hard to take.  It may have just been my perception of things, but even at 8 years old I could not respect someone that clearly had no respect for me.  I began having trouble in Math.  The more I tried to sit through her lesson, the more I would start to let my mind wander.  I would constantly zone out because I felt she was talking down to us, and therefore anything she had to say was a waste of my time.
     For instance when giving a demonstration of how to do a subtraction problem she would say things like: "if you need to borrow a 1, you go next door to the neighbors house.  That's the tens house, and knock on the door."  She would then knock on the blackboard and say "hello there neighbor, I need to borrow a cup of sugar and a 1!"
     Now I may have been 8 years old, but I genuinely thought that this was an insult to my intelligence.  It was clearly also a slight to the rest of the class.  Once again, I can't respect someone who has no respect for me.
     About this time the parent-teacher conferences began.  My mother brought up the fact that I was having trouble and class.  It was hard to verbalize exactly what it was that made me so defiant when it came to learning from this woman.  I wanted the candy, I wanted to do art projects an listen to the student teacher read us the Scary Stories books.  I just couldn't deal with Mrs. LeMay's attitude and teaching style.  My mother pointed out that the conference with my teacher had not gone well.  That she felt as if the teacher not only looked unfavorably upon me, but downright did NOT like me.  Well the feeling was mutual!
     I continued to let my grades slip in this class, that I didn't care about.  We started to get regular homework assignments.  When the class began having problems understanding and completing the assignments, she took time out to address us.  This time she said: "If you are having trouble you can always ask for help outside of the classroom.  Ask a parent, ask a teacher, ask a friend, ask a neighbor!"
     For the life of me I couldn't understand why this crazy old bat was always bothering the goddamn neighbors? If I was her neighbor, I'd be pissed!  "Oh the fucking lady next door is outside again.    Christ, what does she need today?  Hopefully it's not another 1?  Maybe it's sugar or a homework instructions! Quick, close the blinds and turn off the lights, we'll pretend we're not home." Unbelievable!
     After Christmas Vacation, I was transferred to the "other" 3rd grade class.  This time the teacher told me she'd like to teach me Math but "didn't have the time." That's fine, I didn't care about Math anyways.  All I cared about was that I didn't have to hear Mrs. LeMay bothering the goddamn neighbors ever again.

My Grandmother made this puppet for me in Mrs. LeMay's class  

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