My parents officially retired a few weeks ago, and I thought I would commemorate the event with a few posts about their former professions. We’ll start first with my mom…
Former Occupation: Fifth-grade teacher.
Easiest Part of Job: That’s easy: The jar of Skittles… (the remnants of which are currently on display at my parent’s lake house.) Skittles are the currency of fifth-graders. Apparently, you can bribe fifth graders to do anything as long as a handful of Skittles are involved. Do your homework! Learn your spelling words! Behave perfectlyâ€¦ hereâ€™s a Skittle. She had the entire classroom doped up on the performance-enhancing drug known as Skittles. And Skittles arenâ€™t even that good, thatâ€™s the amazing thing. Imagine if a Snickers bar were dangledâ€¦ these kids would be splitting the atom.
Toughest Part of Job: Aside from teaching math, science and English, she also had to teach sex education to a bunch of ten year olds. Honestly, I would rather teach feces-throwing to a group of monkeys. There would at least be some dignity in that. Let’s face it: this kind of material really has no place in the classroom, as it is best learned through cable television and political press conferences. The kids pretty much giggle and fidget through the whole lesson anyway, as the primary authority figure in their lives is reduced to standing before them attempting to say the word “erection” with a straight face. Try it. It can’t be done. I guess this is pretty much my definition of comedy too, so I suppose the giggling is justified. This is made all the more difficult for teachers considering they can’t show a video on this topic, and there’s really no way to incorporate Skittles into the lesson plan.
Thing She’ll Miss the Least: Grading the hygiene of 10 year olds. Not only do teachers have to evaluate their students’ academic performance, but they also must grade them on their personal hygiene as well. Seems kind of harsh doesn’t it? How do you even do this? When a kid raises their hand to answer a question, do teachers covertly wander over and smell their armpit? You know, just to make sure theyâ€™re using deodorant. While youâ€™re there, I suppose you could check for earwax buildup as well. I just assume teachers maintain a log of all of this, along with any nosepickings they witness each day and then grade on a curve. But the question is, can you be held back for this? “Sorry, Johnny… you read at a tenth-grade level, but unfortunately you wet yourself at a first-grade level… we think it’s best that you repeat the fifth grade.”
Telling Sign It Was Time To Move On: Aside from replacing a teacher, Valley View will now have to find a new director of the Christmas program. It’s probably for the best. Last year my mom confessed that she had been grooming the star of last yearâ€™s play since the girl was in kindergarten. Let me tell ya, lots of nervous glances were exchanged when she admitted that one. My mom had basically turned the Christmas play into the Chinese Olympic gymnastics team, where girls are taken from their families at an early age and groomed for performance through rigorous practice schedules and controlling their diet. I can only assume my mom was walking up behind this girl and taking the cheeseburger off her plate at the hot lunch line.
Most Rewarding Aspect of Job: So what are the thanks for all of this? If youâ€™re lucky, a student will make you a handmade gift at the end of the year as a token of appreciation. In my mom’s case, one year a student made a plaque that read â€œGreatest Teacher on Erath.â€ What is “Erath” you ask? Thatâ€™s what you get when you misspell “Earth.” Obviously, this student must have went off his Skittles regimen during the production phase. In all fairness, it was a unique gift. It’s rare when one receives a backhanded compliment suitable for hanging on a wall.
Plans for Retirement: Read a lot of books, maybe watch TV until a grandkid arrives.
Up next, my Dad…