Those teachers? They could, if they wanted, make your life a living — pit of misery. A couple of scribbles on the chalkboard, and there went your weekend. In fact, they could, on days when the moon wasn’t full and the wind was blowing from, well, any direction, introduce a new level of torture. They could assign you extra math.
The kid I know (the one whose mom went all slave driver on her) hated math. Hated numbers. The fact that she used to get mad when her third-grade teacher said, “Take out your math books,” did not bode well for her high-school career and may or may not have had something to do with the red in her hair.
Algebra with all its Xs and Ys and incomprehensible equations gave me — uh, her fits. It ground her gears, having to calculate what time two trains would meet if one left Cleveland heading west, going 60, and the other one left Denver headed east, going 40. What in the world did it matter?
In her extremity, she’d turn to prayer. A lightning bolt. An earthquake or two. A real selective team of burglars, all targeting the district’s math books. Was that too much to ask? Apparently it was, for her prayers went unanswered, leaving her—well, me to turn in that homework.
Yes, for all I could see back then, parents and teachers had all the power, and they sure weren’t scared to use it. I could see that, too.
Funny, isn’t it, how life turns out? A pair of blue eyes does you in, and you marry a fellow who goes to school for accounting. That’s math.
You grow up, and you’re a teacher. For one year, you teach two grades, third and fourth, with, you note in dismay, a preponderance of boys. Little do you know that one day, you’ll be teaching your own preponderance of boys, only it’s for much longer than nine months, and there are no summer breaks.
Little do you know, too, when you start the parenting gig that you could’ve opted for puppies. About two kids in, this dawns on you. By then, you’ve burned your bridges, and there’s no turning back. You’ve been suckered (again) by the blue, blue eyes.