Stories from an Unconventional Childhood, Week Nine

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.

When I was in the seventh grade, my mom got her first full-time teaching job. It was in the same school system as I attended, in the building right next door. She was teaching in the primary school and had the class of first-graders that were labeled “educable retarded”. I just thought they were adorable. Whenever I had opportunity, I would visit her classroom and the kids would always tell me all about whatever they were learning. And they were learning. I loved being around them because everything was a delight and a wonder. If they could figure out how to sound out a letter it was cause for celebration and another’s success would cause everyone in the class to break into clapping and cheering.

Meanwhile, I was trying to make my way through my first year of junior high. Most of my classes were just alright, but three really stood out, the first two because they were so good and the last because it was so awful.

The first two classes were taught by two of my favorite teachers. One was my life science teacher. She was an amazing person who was full-blood Cherokee Indian. She pushed me in a good way and never let me get lackadaisical, as good students sometimes do. The other teacher taught Texas history and was the science teacher’s best friend. When they figured out that they both had me, and I was teacher’s pet in both classrooms, they really started having fun. One would send me with messages or jokes or Dr. Pepper’s to the other’s classroom. I dearly loved both teachers and classes.

The last one was my PE class. I never was a big fan of PE anyway, but that was the year they instituted co-ed PE classes in my school. Suddenly, we were expected to play baseball with the boys and flag-football with the boys and so on. Worst of all, I was in the class taught by the male coach, who thought it was funny when the boys interpreted his flag-football rule of “two hands below the waist to tackle” as “it’s okay to pop a girl on the butt to tackle her”. Needless to say, if I could find a reason to be gone from PE, I took it.

The highlight of my seventh grade year would have to be the end-of-the-year trip that was the reward for the “A” students in the Texas history class. We went on an all-day trip, first to the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, and then across the border to Mexico to spend the day. The zoo was amazing and enjoyable except for the mandrill who was overly excited about my strawberry blond hair and went berserk every time he saw me.

That hair was a real problem for me on that particular trip, but everything worked out. At the time, there was a gang in Mexico, that was kidnapping red-headed Americans. Alerts had been sent out throughout the region, so my teacher assigned two large Hispanic boys to be my bodyguards for the entire time we were in Mexico. Fortunately, they took to their role as protectors and treated me like a beloved little sister. I was a little nervous, but managed to have a lot of fun, knowing I was safe and well-looked-after. I came home with lots of pictures, a belly full of good food, some wonderful memories and a lovely pair of maracas.

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