Tag: kids

Report Card Day

Here at the school where I work, students have a carefree lifestyle. They walk around with grins on their faces like they have not a fear in the world, not a fear until today that is.

Today is Report Card day at the high school, and judging from the students’ newest habit of nail biting and the sleepy looks on most of their faces, I would imagine that a great deal of them are a bit nervous to receive the report cards. One student called it Judgement Day.

I remember Report Card day when I was a kid. God! I still get a queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach, and I am not even attending school. I remember it like it was yesterday (thank heavens it isn’t), as our teachers would sit at the front of the class, as judgmental as could be, staring at those of us who did not do as well as we could. I was always terrified of this part of the day, and every year, on the night prior to this day, I never slept a wink.

One year, when I was struggling in science, my teacher made the mistake of writing the marks in with a pencil (hehehe). What a great report card I brought home. Mom was amazed when she seen that I had a 95% average overall, even if three courses I didn’t do. This evening got worst when mom proudly visited the school to meet with my teacher and was exposed to the truth about my marks. Can you say ouch and grounded for a month? Well at least the report card looked good on the way home on the bus. I bragged to everyone on the bus that I beat them with my marks.

My brother used to make me sick. He would never study, and he always got all ‘A’s’. I would study my ass off and come home with ‘B’s’ and maybe, if I was lucky, a ‘B+’.

School back then was nothing like it is today. Recently, they established a policy that a kid could never fail a test. Nor could a student be given a fail even if they cheated on an exam. Hell, a student can’t even fail anymore. Where is it headed I wonder?

Back in the seventh grade, while I was just 12 years old, we had a student named Kenny. (I will not give his full name because at the time he was a bully and I worry that maybe he is still a bully, and lurking somewhere in the neighborhood, waiting to punch the hell out of me one more time) Kenny failed the seventh grade (and a few more grades) several times, and despite the fact that he was 23 years old, his dad would not let him quit school. We thought the guy was a giant, and he had quite the fun harassing us kids to death. I only realized many years later that he is only 5’3″, but when you are twelve, a twenty three year old guy who is also a bully can easily take you in a fight.

Our teachers were quite different back then as well. Being raised in a Catholic school, most of the teachers were either nuns or priests, so you didn’t want to mess with them. I remember on one occasion, one of my friends got into a fight with a nun…in a mud puddle. (more on that in another blog which I plan to write later)

Back in those days, if you pissed a teacher off, you got the strap. The strap was a quarter inch strip of leather the teachers used to slap your bare hands. On one occasion, I tried making Trudy O’Quinn a set of pony tails with scotch tape. While two of my accomplices held her, I carefully wrapped tape around her hair, and later got caught by my teacher. This not only ended my hairstyling career, it resulted in twenty straps on each hand. When my teacher finished, I couldn’t even hold my pencil. I am glad we got more civilized in the coming years.

I was fortunate in that I learned quickly. I learned never to do anything dumb in front of the teacher. I also learned that teachers got even madder when they swung the strap and you moved your hand, resulting in them hitting themselves with the strap. I also learned never to laugh when this happened.

High School was not a place that worked out for me. I sucked at Gym. I was no scholar, except in English and Literature. I sucked at Mathematics. I graduated from high school with a 55 average, and life taught me better than any teacher. I went back to school after working as a logger for 20 years, and loved it. I went back and did more courses each year afterward, and right now I am planning on doing a few university courses. I hear they don’t use the strap!

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Letting go of the seat

I have a nine year old son. Well, actually,  his mother and I share him with a dad who is never in the picture, so I guess that makes him my son. At 40, he became my first child. (I know, late bloomer)

When I got into the picture, he was just two and a half, using a pacifier and traveling in a stroller wherever we went. Those were the easy days, when we were the teachers and we taught him important things like how to use the bathroom on his own (When we noticed that he would simply stand in front of the toilet and let it go, over the wall and shower curtain, I had to give him some pointers on how to control where the pee went. He was grossed out when I told him that he actually had to hold the thing on, and aim it towards the toilet), how to flush the toilet, how to brush his teeth, and how to wash his hands. Important stuff that he would use for the rest of his life.

I was also there to teach him how to ride his bike. He hated training wheels, and would not ride the bike with them on it. He said that they were for babies, and he certainly was not a baby. (Growing up too fast, he is!) I remember encouraging him to sit on his little Spider Man bike, go to the hill in the front yard and let gravity take its course. He had no part of this, instead, he got me to hold the seat and he paddle the bike like a bat out of hell.

This worked great until I realized that his little legs could paddle faster than my old legs could run. We both ended up falling, him on top of me. A few more times and eventually, I let go of the seat and away he went, until I was dumb enough to tell him that he was on his own. With this, he would crash at the bottom of the hill, and say the same thing all the time: “Okay Dad, but this time, don’t let go of the seat”.  My response was always the same. “I will hold the seat until you can do it on your own”.

Eventually I did let go, and he did make it to the bottom of the hill, and then to the bottom of the driveway, and then to the end of the street, and so on.  He was so proud to learn how to ride the bike.

I was there for many other first occasions as well. I helped pull his first tooth, taught him to use the lawn mower, how to use the electric drill and other power tools, etc.

I worked with him to learn to read (I can’t figure out what the teachers are doing in school, because for some reason, they don’t feel that spelling and phonics is an important skill, I was hooked on phonics as a child), and when I get a chance, I teach him computer skills. I love doing those things with him.

He just began grade four, and now he says that he doesn’t need any more help. Apparently, he already knows it all.  In soccer practice, he wonders why he has coaches, because again, he figures that he knows it all. I must have done some job in the last seven years, because at only nine years of age, he knows everything.

But I am not ready to let go of the seat yet. He still needs to learn to drive a car, I need to have the ‘Talk’ with him about sex and girls and life (I remember my dad having the talk with me. “You know everything you need to know about girls”  my dad asked. “They told us that in school, dad” I replied. “Thank Heavens” he said.)  and the most important thing, he needs to learn to be a dad. I want to be there for that.

Until that day, I am still holding on to the seat.