Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Never Shake a 7 Year-Old

One incident in November of 1956 put Mrs. Graves on the top of my Worst Teachers Ever list.

School started at 7;30 AM, if I remember right. But for some reason the buses never got us there much later than 7, so there was always a wait. The school building was locked until time for classes to start, so we all had to wait outside in the cold.

The day before there had been an early snowfall, but the falling snow turned to rain overnight, and the snow on the ground turned to slush. So school wasn't called, the buses ran, and we all ended up standing around in two or three inches of slush outside the school.

The routine was, at a first bell we were required to form two lines. The line on the right facing the school consisted of boys. the line on the left consisted of girls. At the second bell 5 minutes late the teacher was supposed to appear and march the two files into the school.

On this day she was late. We we literally left out in the cold. Everybody was getting restless. Kids were rocking back and forth and up and down on their toes, trying to stay warm. I jumped in the air. When I landed on slush the slush flew out from my boots and some hit a girl in the leg.

She said, "Hey! You got slush on me!" and she retaliated by stamping her foot at me, getting slush on my leg.

Well, being of the nature I am, I thought that was funny, and I stamped back at her.

Turns out slush-stamping is really hard to aim. I only wanted to get the one girl back again, and I did, but I also got two or three others standing next to her. Now those two retaliated. And their aim was no better than mine, so in addition to splashing slush on me they got slush on half a dozen other boys in line with me.

It was a classic illustration of runaway positive feedback. Within 20 seconds almost all the kids in both lines were splashing slush at each other and everybody's legs were covered with dirty gray slush. I was laughing my head off.

Then Mrs, Graves appeared. She saw the mess and screamed, "WHICH ONE OF YOU STARTED THIS!" Everybody became quiet except me. I couldn't stop laughing.

She stood directly in front of me, grabbed my shoulders, and said, "YOU STARTED THIS DIDN'T YOU?"

As soon as I said yes she started shaking me violently. Even my own sadistic Mother never shook me like that. She shook me so hard I thought my neck was going to snap. While she did it she shrieked stuff , but I couldn't absorb any of it. I don't know what she said. She was shaking me so hard my brain stopped working.

They say, NEVER SHAKE A BABY. That should also apply to seven year olds. NEVER SHAKE A SEVEN YEAR-OLD.

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