May, 2011 – My Final School Report

Tessa has nearly completed her first year of middle school and I have yet to bake a cupcake, decorate a bulletin board or shelve a library book.

And, the 2012 science fair has come and gone without a Northcutt entry for the first time in 20 years. I have wanted to pick up a No. 2 pencil, stab the scientific method concept in its hypothetical heart and roast it over a bunsen burner for last two decades.

When Tessa graduated from elementary school last May, I graduated too. After putting in 20 consecutive years at Calvert City Elementary School, and after completing K-5th grade for the sixth time, I turned in this final report titled Ten Things I Learned in Elementary School.

1. It’s a lot harder to send your first child to school than it is to send any of the others.

When I took Ben to the first day of school, I walked him to his desk and hugged him . . . until Mrs. Ford pulled us apart and sent me home to write, “I will not cry in kindergarten class” 500 times. Then I parked my car across the street from the school playground so I could make sure Ben was okay at recess.

On Tessa’s first day of school, I pinned a twenty dollar bill to her shirt, told her dad to drop her off at the front door and spent the day at the mall.

2. You can completely ignore the instructions that say a child must be potty trained before starting school. Kindergarten aides covertly passed me wet panties concealed in a brown paper bag so many times people in the car rider line began to think we were part of a local drug cartel.

3. Television has become a very effective teaching tool. We should monitor it wisely.

If, for instance, your child were to watch an educational, animal-themed movie like “March of the Penguins” or “Gorillas in the Mist” or maybe . . . “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and, as a result, they learned to kick other students in the crotch during recess, you would get called to the principal’s office every time.

4. When I was in school, I had teachers like the three old-maid Edwards sisters. They were as old as Garden of Eden dirt but they could swing a paddle with a wood to butt contact that would make Babe Ruth proud. They could also sneak up behind a student and grab the kid’s straw before he/she could take a breath big enough to shoot a spit wad through it.

Micah discovered in his first week of school that you can get one card pulled every day with no consequences. Then, he set out to drive each of his teachers crazy with his free card-pull.

Many of his teachers stood strong. But some folded quickly under his masterful manipulation. And then, there was the one teacher that he took out completely when he hugged her so hard, he pulled cartilage loose and put her in the hospital.

Teachers aren’t as tough as they used to be.

5. Despite the fact that in the last 20 years, the world has changed on most every front . . . (There used to be nine planets in the solar system. Blackberries and apples used to be fruit. Teenagers used to communicate with their mouths and not their thumbs.) . . . school lunches remain the same.

6. If you kiss The Cat in the Hat when he walks out the door, you have a little red make-up dot on your nose for the rest of the day.

7. The “A” in April stands for, “Ahhhhhh Crap!! It’s time to do another science fair project.”

The “P” in April stands for, “Pray that the school burns down before you have to start your science fair project.”

The “R” in April stands for, “Run over your foot with the lawn mower so you don’t have to help your kid with his science fair project.”

The “I” in April stands for, “Imagine the disaster if you let your kid do his own science fair project.”

The “L” in April stands for, “Let’s see which parents do the best on their fourth grade science fair projects.”

8. If, for some legitimate . . . or slightly less than legitimate reason, a parent were to forget one her children and leave him at school for a short . . . or not so short period of time, she could rest assured that an employee of the school system would wait with that child until the parent remembered to pick him up . . . every time it happened. I’m just sayin’.

9. If you show up at school a few times a week, check the volunteer box when you sign in, hang out in the office for a long time, walk through the building and talk to every teacher you meet in the hall, straighten a few pictures on the wall and look as though you are always busy with parent volunteer duties . . . you can get five kids through elementary school without once serving as a PTO officer. (Victory dance in progress on my side of the computer screen.)

10. It’s a lot easier to let go of your children for seven hours a day and send them to school when you know that they feel loved there. I will always be grateful to the teachers, aides and administration at CCES for making my kids feel special. I think part of their self-confidence and ability to tackle the world was learned there.

And, I’ll give an extra shout-out of thanks to the teachers who dealt with Micah on a daily basis and didn’t pinch off his head.