Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Sometimes it's just nothing at all

My folks were very strict with my sisters and me. Even though all my grandparents and some of my great grandparents were US born, the German strictness was reinforced by generations of living in pure or mostly pure German environments. And we were Catholic to boot. We kids didn't want to get into trouble at school because we would get hit at home*** for getting hit at school.
By third grade I had the elementary school ropes down pretty well. I was a precocious learner and had a good memory. It didn't take me long to absorb my lessons in class -- when you have class sizes well into the 30s, you don't move along at a very fast pace. I started to goof off in class once in a while and got yelled at in class for the first time in my short life.
At some point well into the school year, there was a teacher-parent conference day on what I remember as a Sunday afternoon. Both my parents went and I was sweating that Mrs. Krieger (sp?) would recite all my transgressions and then I would catch hell when they came back.
When they returned, I avoided them for as long as I could. Finally, I got up the nerve and went in to face my punishment. Putting on my most innocent act, I asked what Mrs. Krieger had said. Their response was "Nothing much, you are doing very well in your school work." Relief! But I already had done appropriate penance for my misbehavior by sweating it out for an hour or two.
Epilogue: Years later, when I was relating my story to my Mom, she told me that Mrs. Krieger said I was bored in class and that she would try to give me some extra work on the side.

*** In fairness to my parents, getting hit meant several smacks with a yardstick across the bottom, pants up.

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