Warning: Graphic Language!
At the end of the class day yesterday, I gave my fifth-graders an assignment to ask their parents for a story with a moral at the end of it, and to be prepared to stand up at their desks to give an oral report. This morning the kids presented their short orations at second period.
“My father’s a farmer and we have a lot of egg-laying hens,” Kathy O’Donnell said. “One time we were taking our eggs to market in a basket on the front seat of the pickup, when we hit a bump in the road and all the eggs went flying and broke. What a mess that made,” she added. “Dad said words I never heard before.”
“I’m glad you didn’t repeat them here,” I said. “And what’s the moral of the story?”
“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket!”
“Very good, Kathy, you may sit down now.” The youngster behind her was waving her arm exorbitantly in the air, sporting a look of great urgency to tell her tale; either that, or she had to go to the girls room post haste. “Lucy,” I said, “what is your story?”
“My family farms too, but we raise chickens for the meat market,” she said after standing up. “We had a dozen eggs one time, but when they hatched, we only got ten live chicks. And the moral to this story is don’t count your chickens until they’re hatched.”
“That’s a fine example, Lucy,” I said in praise. Meanwhile, Johnny Hatfield fidgeted in his seat as if he had ants in his pants, flailing his extended hand wildly about in evident exasperation to be called on next.
Giving him the benefit of the doubt, having told him after his last vulgar remark made in the classroom, that he faced suspension for any future outbursts, I said, “Johnny, do you have a story to share?”
“Yes, Ma’am,” he said, bolting up onto his feet like a jack rabbit. “My daddy told me a story about my Uncle Bob. I promise I won’t cuss.”
“OK, go ahead, Johnny. Tell us about your uncle.” He recited the following:
Uncle Bob was a pilot in Afghanistan and his plane got hit. He had to bail out over enemy territory, and all he had beside the parachute was a bottle of whiskey, a machine gun and a machete.
My uncle drank the whiskey on the way down so the bottle wouldn’t break under him. He landed in the middle of one hundred Taliban troops.
After killing seventy of them with the machine gun until running out of bullets, he killed twenty more with the machete ’til the blade broke; and then he killed the last ten of ’em with his bare hands.
“Good heavens,” I said. “What kind of moral did your daddy teach you from that horrible story?”
“Don’t screw around with Uncle Bob when he’s been drinking.” Johnny wore his famous Cheshire Cat grin from ear to ear. I immediately gave him The Look: the one where the class knew instantly they were in for it if they continued their unruly shenanigans. “Er, make that, ‘you don’t mess around with Uncle Bob,'” the smiling scalawag retorted.
“That’s much better, Johnny,” I said. “I let that one go, but remember to curb your obscenities while in class.” I can see we are still going to be spending a lot of time studying proper vocabulary for the rest of this year.
I had a free period after lunch and went down the hall to see my friend, Lily, who teaches kindergarten. She was observing the kids in her classroom while they drew, and invited me in after gabbing at her door for a minute or two.
We both walked around the large room to see each child’s artwork. A little girl was working intently on what I considered very intricate but extremely abstract. I asked her what the drawing was.
“I’m drawing God.”
“But no one knows what God looks like,” I said.
“They will in a minute when I’m finished this.” I patted the little Picasso on the top of her head and joined my friend at the instructor’s desk.
Lily announced for the children to take out their coloring books next when they finished their drawings. Willie Hatfield, Johnny’s little brother, came up and said, “Miss Francis, I ain’t got no crayons.”
“Willie,” my friend said, “you mean, ‘I don’t have any crayons. You don’t have any crayons. We don’t have any crayons. They don’t have any crayons.’ Do you see what I’m getting at?”
“Not really,” Willie said, “What happened to all them fuckin’ crayons?”
It runs in the family, I guess. Until next time, which will probably be in spring, be well and prosper.