Lessons learned while growing up
|I was reading the discussion topic for this week, and I admit, I had some difficulty coming up with something funny, or embarrssing. It took me awhile, but I remembered an incident that occurred when I was in the 5th grade. It's amazing the memories we choose to save from childhood.
I had always enjoyed school; I was an average student, who did my work, and stayed out of trouble, but fifth grade was difficult for me. My best friend, who was a year older , had graduated to the middle school. Leaving me alone and vernerable without my saftey net. It was during fifth grade, that my parents already shaky marriage, began to collapse. I had always enjoyed school, but this year I was struggling. When I arrived to school one day, I learned that my teacher was out sick, and we would have a substitute. I knew it was going to be a bad day. I tried to concentrate, but I was restless, angry. I couldn't stay in my seat. I got up to get a drink of water or use the bathroom. I kept chatting with my friends, even after the substitute told me to be quiet. I didn't hand in my work. I was out of control! By the end of the day, the substitute was clearly frustrated. She warned me that if I didn't settle down, she would send me to the principals' office. I can't recall the words I said, but I knew as I said them, that I was in big trouble. I was asked to gather my things, and was headed to the principals office before I knew what had happened.
Since I wasn't a regular , the principal was surprised to see me, and asked why I was there. I explained to him how I had behaved with the substitute teacher and that she had sent me down to spend the rest of the afternoon. "Well have a seat." he said, and then disappeared back into his office. I sat down on the bench, and tried to figure out how I had gotten myself into this situation. I was slumped down on the bench when the principal emerged a few moments later, with a yellow legal pad and a pencil. "Sit up!" He ordered, and I did as I was told. "Young lady, I don't think you realize how difficult it is to be a substitute teacher. You should be ashamed of your behavior. You will use the rest of the afternoon to write an apology letter." He handed me the paper and pencil, and returned to his office. I thought about what he had said, and I started writing. Ocassionally, he would look up from his desk to make sure that I was working, For the first time that day, I was content. I wrote until it was time to leave. Before I left, I handed him a three page essay on what is was like to be a substitue teacher. He seemed satisfied, and dismissed me for the weekend. Leaving the principals office, I thought I had gotton off easy. It wasn't until monday that I realized that my punishment had only just begun.
After the weekend, I arrived back at school monday morning, relaxed, and feeling more like myself. My mother had given me a stern warning, so my plan was to be quiet, do my work and stay out of trouble. I looked towards the front of the room, and there was the substitute teacher from Friday. I couldn't believe it, "that's it, I'm dead!" I thought. I quietly sank into my seat, determined to keep my promise to my mother. The substitute took attendance, and then informed us that our teacher would be out for the rest of the week with the flu. She would be our substitute. Then she walked over to me and placed my essay on my desk. She commented that it was one of the most beautiful essays she had ever read. Beautiful------I was shocked, no one had ever said that about my writing! O'k, not what I was expecting, but not bad. So I was even more shocked when she asked me to stand up and read it for the class. What! I thought, you have got to be kidding me! No Way! I sat frozen, desperatley trying to figure some way out of this mess! Looking around at my classmates, I knew I was stuck. There was nothing I could say or do that would't land me in more trouble then I was already in. Finally, slowly, I rose from my seat. Praying all the while that I would't sound ridiculous, or do something stupid that would label me a GEEK for the rest of the year. I began reading, head down, eyes never leaving my paper. I read as fast as I could, cursing myself for having written three pages! I was speeding along, having just finished a funny passage, the sounds of giggling and laughter surrounded me. I looked up and all my clasmates were attentive, listening to the story; the substitute was smiling. I continued reading, a little slower and with a little more enthusiam in my voice, til the end. I quickly took my seat, to the applauds, and claps on the back from my friends, " hey that was pretty good" they said. The substitute thanked me for sharing my essay, and we continued on with the days lessons.
The week went by uneventfully. The substitute turned out to be a pretty good teacher. She was hardworking, but supportive. She brought in supplies and materials that made her lessons fun and interesting. She sometimes called on me when I raised my hand, and choose me to hand out supplies to the class. On her last day of class, she confided to us that she had written our teacher a note, telling her what a bright,creative, well behaved group of students we were. On the bus ride home that day, I was confused. I found myself missing the substitute. I knew something important had happened that week. I learned that first impressions are not always right. I learned that words can be powerful! They can evoke feelings and emtions; they can change attitudes, and lives. They can create humor, entertain and inspire. At 10 years old, I didn't fully understand the impact that lesson would have on my life, but I knew that it was a lesson I should remember. If nothing else, I figurd it could come in handy, when I got to middle school.