I was laying in bed last night…totally exhausted, but not quite able to go to sleep right away…and I started thinking about random things. Things that would not make sense to think about at any other time of the day when your weekend-day is packed full of nursing, cooking, nursing, cleaning and more nursing. Are you noticing a theme here? LOL!
Anyway, when I should have been sleeping or nodding off into la-la land a thought struck me about the similarities between Jenna and myself at this time in her life. She’s in third grade now, and I started thinking about what third grade was like for me and how things are the same or different for her. First off (I think that this is why I was on this train of thought), it was picture day this past Thursday at her school - I dread school picture day because I honestly think that they all stink. No one takes a good school picture. They’re too canned, too posed, and I’m the Mom that normally forgets that it’s school picture day and sends my kid to school with her hair not brushed and a ratty T-shirt on…the trend started with my own 1st grade picture taken with pigtails (the horror!) in my hair because MY mom forgot that it was picture day…I’m just keeping the dream alive.
But I digress. Thinking about her school pictures for the third grade got me thinking about my own 3rd grade portrait, which I’ll have to share with you another day. It’s not a pretty picture, by the way, but it made me remember my third grade year in general…and a funny story to pass along on your dreary Monday evening.
So come on, and jump in the magic time machine with me and we’ll travel back in time to 1983...or 1984…whatever.
Third grade was rough. Mainly because during my 2nd grade year, we were all tested for our smarts and stuff and it was decided that if you scored above a certain level you were given the option to be placed in a program called T.A.G. (Talented and Gifted). Being in TAG was supposed to be a cool thing, but in reality, it meant that you left all the other kids that you’d come to know over the last three years (K-2nd) and got sent off to West Elementary, what had to be the oldest campus in Athens. Not only was it old, but it was far away…and there were not very many white kids in attendance at this school. Other than the 4th grade class of TAG students, we stuck out like sore thumbs and were teased/taunted mercilessly during any breaks or recesses when we were released with the other kids in the school. Which meant that our little 3rd grade class pretty much kept to itself. We played with just each other, we did PE class and all other electives with just each other and this group of 20-25 kids got to be really close, which worked out well since we basically took classes with just those kids for the next few years – until junior high, at least.
But third grade started it all, and was the hardest year for us to adjust. That, and for the first time ever, I had a man teacher. Mr. Carpenter was his name. I was fairly certain that he didn’t know what he was doing…I mean, he was a guy and guys just weren’t elementary school teachers back in those days and I’m also pretty sure that he was a brand new teacher. Interpret that to be that our class ran all over him for the most part. He was a good guy, nice teacher and all, but he was in WAY over his head…luckily we all survived. But I don’t think that he came back that following school year…that should tell you something! Anyway, my grades were good, I was happy with my friends (even if we did go to the bathroom in groups for safety) and my world revolved around me. School came easy for me…I never really thought about if I was smart or not, I just got good grades naturally without having to put forth a lot of effort. So you can imagine my surprise when I got a bad mark on a report card for the first time ever that year. Nope, not in math or science. Not language arts either.
I got a “C” in Conduct.
I was floored. I got marked down for talking in class…and you know that it had to be a lot of talking for it to come home on a report card! I really struggled with this for a little bit – the injustice of it all, you know. I’d never gotten a “bad mark” on a report card before. If I was struggling with a subject in school (which I don’t remember happening) then I worked a little harder or did some extra homework to improve. So how exactly do you improve a conduct grade?
No, smart-asses in the audience, the answer isn’t “talk less!” But thanks for playing!
My answer? I “studied” in the afternoons and “practiced” not talking back. You see, my defense argument to my Mom and Dad (and I stand by it to this day) was that it wasn’t me initiating the talking. It was my friends who were talking to me, and I was just “not being rude” and answering their questions. (Cue innocent face NOW!) Honest. And when my Mom told me to not talk back to them, I just wasn’t sure that I could do it. To my eight-year-old mind, if you’re not sure that you can do something then you should try it out and practice until you get better, right? Made sense to me…
But, Sandy, how does one go about not talking? Or not answering back to your friends? That’s probably what you’re wondering about now…
Well, I’ll tell you. If you’re me, you drag out your CASSETTE RECORDER (show of hands for who still has one!) and you make a tape of yourself trying to make yourself talk during class. You might have to do several different voices to imitate your friends and come up with a plethora of reasons why they’re trying to get you to talk to them and act each one out on said tape. You also have to leave gaps of silence on the tape to give yourself the option to either reply or stay quiet. Then you play back the tape that you just made and you don’t answer back.
Easy-peasy. And TOTALLY logical! (Those silences become a bit awkward when you play it back to yourself...)
I thought about that tape last night and had a good hard chuckle while laying there trying to go to sleep. I would listen to that tape once or twice an afternoon and “work on” not talking back to my friends until I thought that I had the hang of things. I wish that I still had it because I’m 100% certain that I would laugh until I peed if I could hear it now. And there’s just not many things better in life than laughing so hard that you have to make a run for the bathroom…
And just in case you’re wondering how effective my strategy was? I never brought home a “C” in conduct again!
Hope you had a good Monday!