Stories from an Unconventional Childhood: Week Eight

Over at Mommy’s Piggy Tales there’s a cool project going on about family history. There is a challenge to blog for 15 weeks about our growing up years, with a different time period covered each week. Spitfire talked me into joining in because she’s hoping for some wild stories from my childhood.

Sixth grade began with me sitting on top of the world. I was in a classroom I loved with teachers that were awesome. I had my circle of friends around me. I was starting my second year of band, playing the oboe. We had just moved into a studio apartment in a nicer neighborhood and I had a cool room with a big closet and had a swimming pool a few feet from my front door once again. Life was good.

backyard swimming pool

My friends and I had the sleepover club in full swing. We had a group of girls that took turns hosting sleepovers at the rate of one about every other week. The best part was that each house was a little different. My house had a lot of open space in the living room, a great stereo and a swimming pool. Janice’s house was small, so her older brothers set up a tent in the backyard. They would then wait until we got ready for bed and do stuff like scratching on the tent pretending to be an animal or unscrewing the bulb to the floodlight that illuminated the backyard and make ghost noises to scare us. She had a big family and there was always something going on at her house. Wendy’s house had a big backyard to run around in and MaryAnn’s house had tons of great board games. Laura’s house was filled with treasures her father had brought back from various locations where he was stationed and her mother painted all sorts of little wooden plaques and knickknacks. The house rules were posted on Laura’s  door and the first one was no pillow fights. The next was no roughhousing. But the last one made up for it. It was the rule that stated that you must raid the refrigerator.

Self taken pic.

This was a great game in her house. You had to raid the refrigerator but you couldn’t get caught. This, of course, kept everyone quiet and sneaking around. Laura’s mom would stock the fridge with fried chicken and chocolate cake and other fun stuff prior to the raid. As the evening wore on we would play music and play ping-pong, until her parents said it was time to go to bed. That’s when the fun really started. We had to pretend to be going to sleep while her parent pretended to buy our act. We would wait for what seemed like an eternity for their light to go out and the house to quiet down. Then the refrigerator raiders struck.

I’m quite sure, with all the giggling and shushing each other, that we weren’t nearly as quiet as we thought we were being. Occasionally just for fun, her dad would shake things up by noisily opening the door and telling his wife in a loud voice that he was going to go to the kitchen and get a drink of water. We would shove the food back into the fridge and quickly scamper back to our sleeping bags and pretend to be asleep, suppressing giggles as best we could, while he got his water and went back to bed.

And so it went until about mid-year, when my dad announced he had a new job and we were moving to another part of the state. I cried for days. My friends hugged me and cried and then got together and threw me the best going-away party. My dad went ahead of us to find a place to live while we packed. When we finally finished and got to our destination, I cried again.

The only house he could find in our price range, was a tiny one-bedroom beach cottage. Because the living room had an entire wall of windows that faced the street, I couldn’t sleep in the living room, so they put a twin bed mattress in the floor of the walk-in coat/storage closet in the hallway. It covered the entire floor. I had a section of shelving to put my stuff on and the end of the rod furthest from the door for my clothes. Anything that didn’t fit had to be gotten rid of. My beloved record player went away, but I did get to keep my records to play on the big stereo in the living room.

School was a shock as well. My teacher was a cross, bitter woman who maintained discipline by assigning hundreds of lines to be written within a certain time. I anyone made a sound, she would make the entire class write lines. If you didn’t finish, you received swats with a large wooden paddle that she wielded like a major league batter. The room was painted gray and the desks were in lines facing her desk. There were no decorations of any kind. Small wonder she was the least popular teacher in the school. Oddly enough, her sister was the most popular teacher in the school and her room was the exact opposite. It was bright and clean and filled with posters and plants, with an aquarium and hamster cage and displays of geodes and seashells. Oh, how I longed to be in that room!

After a while, survival mode kicked in. After getting a few swats because I couldn’t write that fast, I found out my teacher always assigned the same line, “I will not talk in class”. The kids had caught on to this,  and prepared pages of lines in their notebooks. When she assigned lines, they would write until the deadline and then count out the needed number of pages and turn them in. Schoolwork was so predictable that I would do a week’s worth on the weekend, and then write stories or stockpile lines during school time. I learned to cope with the teacher’s temper tantrums and waited for the school year to be over.

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