It was another beautiful fall morning, but it was a Tuesday. The small boy wore a scowl on his little face as he put on his shoes. Tying the laces carefully, he was muttering all the while, "I'm not going to school today." He went into the kitchen where Mama was just finishing the cooking of the oatmeal on the wood-burning range. The boy sat at the table with Daddy and Little Sister as Mama ladled the oats into their bowls. A dollop of cream from the top of the jar and a spoonful of sugar made the breakfast quite palatable.
"Boy," Dad said, "You need to hustle a bit. That pan under the icebox has to be emptied and you need to bring in a dozen chunks of wood before you head off to school."
"I'll take care of my chores," said the child. "But I'm not going to school today."
Dad chuckled a second, then let his face turn to a scowl, a reflection of his son's visage. "I've heard that every day since the first week you were in school. I'm a little tired of it. Now scoot."
The boy carefully removed the pan and emptied the water into the sink, knowing full well that if he spilled any he'd have to mop the floor. But all the while he was muttering, "I am not going to school."
And after the wood was inside in its box, he went out the door still vowing he was not going to school. But that, of course, was exactly where he was going.
It was just after 10:30 and Miss Gibbs had told Sandra twice to face the front of the room and to stop talking. As the child turned her head yet again toward her classmate behind her, the teacher swiftly negotiated the distance between the blackboard and the girl's seat. The children sat agape, stunned at the quickness the Old Lady displayed. The Boy, two rows over, was stunned when the teacher grasped the girl's face between her hands and rudely faced her toward the front of the room. As Miss Gibbs swung on her heel and started back toward her desk, Sandra stuck out her tongue at the retreating back. The teacher immediately spun around, returned to the girl's place, and swung her hand smartly across the child's face, literally knocking her from her seat. There were 29 first grade children who would believe for the rest of their lives that that teacher had "eyes in the back of her head."
The rest of the day, nay, the rest of that school year, is lost in the mists of that boy's memory. Except for the coloring book incident. Perhaps another time.
Names have not been changed to protect the innocent, as there is no innocent in this tale. Except maybe Little Sister, who only got to sit at the table. In our six-year old cleverness, our chant, when not in her presence, was "Old Lady Gibbs has lost her ribs."