It’s just part of life that you remember who peed their pants and cried in second grade. You remember the kid who ate his scabs and the girl who got gum caught in her hair and had to have it cut out, making her look really bad. You remember their names. And use them when you get older.
As a teacher, I am faced with weird predicaments on a daily basis. I always worry about the kid who puts an eraser in his mouth,
the girl who continually rocks on her chair, the boy who plays with pencils. So, I bring up names from the past. “Do you want to end up like Kenny Myers?” I asked today. A kid put an eraser in his mouth. They know a story is coming.
“Well, in fifth grade, I watched Kenny swallow a bic pen cap. They had to take him to the hospital and have his stomach pumped. His parents had to pay a huge bill just because Kenny put something in his mouth that wasn’t food. So, if you want to end up like Kenny Myers, put a pen cap in your mouth.”
I have no idea what happened to Kenny. He may have swallowed the little blue part on the other end. I didn’t see it. I heard about it. And remembered it, I guess, so I could pull a story out of the “Useless Information” file I have stored in my brain. Now, you have to understand that my kids know I am pulling their leg, so they just sit there, smiling. They are in fourth grade and understand what’s going on. But, they also know that I have drifted off topic once again. They keep tally marks.
I have another student who rocks on her chair. They know that that is the number one no-no in my classroom. I hate rocking on chairs. My son was a notorious rocker. He still rocks on his chair. He is 25 years old, and I had to tell him to quit rocking just last week. I don’t know why it bugs me so much. Probably because of what happened to Joey Minco. Years ago, I was sitting next to Joey and he was rocking on his chair. He then tipped back too far and went back, hitting his head on the corner of a desk and then landing smack on his head.
“He cracked his head open and had to go to the hospital. Joey had a lot of problems remembering his name after that. So, please quit rocking, unless you want to end up like Joey Minco..or whatever his name is…” Lie. Joe Minco was an old man who lived across the street from me.
On breaking pencils on purpose- “Do you want to end up like George Dragovich? (Another old neighbor. I have no idea why I use neighbors from my youth.) George broke the tips off of the pencils so he would be able to get up in front of everyone to sharpen his pencil. He slipped on a piece of paper on the floor and landed on the pencil. It just missed his eye and the lead is still under his skin right here…(as I point near the corner of my eye.) So, if you don’t want to end up like George Dragovich, quit breaking your pencils on purpose.”
Chewing 23 pieces of gum at the same time- “Are you chewing gum? Do you want to know why I don’t allow chewing gum in my classroom? When I was little, there was a girl name Ethel Mertz (sometimes tv character names come out of my mouth). Ethel was very poor. Her dad worked very hard to save up so Ethel could have a brand new dress. He bought it for her for her 10th birthday. She couldn’t wait to wear it to school and show off her beautiful dress. But when she sat down in her desk chair, someone had put a wad of gum on her seat, and she sat in it. Back then, you couldn’t get gum out of anything. It stained and turned dirty looking over time. Her dress was ruined and school hadn’t even started yet….
And you know who put the gum on her seat?….No, not me…..Joey Minco. He thought it was the wastepaper basket.”
Walking down the hall at the end of the day with a sucker in their mouth- “Hey! You’re not allowed to have suckers in school…..Why, when I was little, I had a sucker in my mouth and fell down the steps and you know what happened to me?……..A piece of the sucker stick is still stuck in my throat. I can’t eat anything solid…So, quit walking with a sucker in your mouth unless you want to eat pudding for the rest of your life.”
On taking your shoes off in class every single day- “Please put your shoes back on. Do you want to end up like Gladys Kravitz?……Poor Gladys. She was my cousin…..WAS my cousin………..Gladys was in fourth grade, and always took her shoes off. One day there was a fire drill. They thought it was just a fire drill. Gladys took her time putting her shoes on…..when the class got outside, the teacher noticed that little Gladys was nowhere to be found….I’m not even going to tell you what happened to her. But, if you want to end up like Gladys Kravitz, go ahead and take your shoes off.”
I really can’t stop. I continually make up scenarios for kids because if you just explain why it is unsafe to rock on a chair, they won’t
remember it. But, if you give them a vivid description, something they can put a face to,or in my many cases, a name, they will remember it. I mean, I don’t use blood or guts, because that is just wrong for a great teacher like myself to do. And I guess I should mention that the kids know I am lying, right from the beginning…but they seem to love my “Unless you want to end up like….” stories.
When I was little, my mom told me that there was a special place in hell for liars. I know, because Lars Peters is in hell. My mom told me that Lars always lied and he is now in hell. “So, Vickie…if you want to go to hell like Lars Peters, keep on lying.”
Sigh……I really have become my mother.