On my outings with the family pets, I’ve been passing a lot of very happy students. For many it will be their last weeks of school ever, and I wondered what memories would stay with them after surviving the past twelve years. Hopefully one of them won’t be getting slowly lowered into a flushing toilet on the first day of Grade 8.
What I learned in school consisted mostly of how to cope with anxiety, fear, and boredom, and discovering that bullies don’t back down when you stand up to them; especially when you’re four foot tall and can’t fight.
Plus, I also learned how far a teacher would go in order to get her point across. You see, we’d been learning about the respiratory system and, in spite of her best efforts to make it interesting, most of us were falling asleep while sitting upright. Sighing, she wished aloud for a real set of heart and lungs to demonstrate the breathing process. At this point, a timid little girl raised her hand and said, “Miss, I know where there’s a dead dog.” The teacher smiled, “Well dear, cut it’s lungs out and bring them to school.” How we all laughed.
The next day, the little girl appeared and proudly handed the teacher a garbage bag full of sloshy stuff. She opened it and went pale. Nobody would be falling asleep in class today; or possibly for the next few nights either.
Reaching in, she dragged out the heart, lungs, and other apparatus that had only days before been happily enclosed inside a living, breathing dog. We gazed on in horror as she laid the bits out on a tray, wrapped some paper towel around the throat tube, then breathed into it. The lungs expanded, bubbling and foaming with blood. “Did everyone see that?” she asked, daintily wiping her lips on her sleeve while kids fainted in front of her.
It’s funny how you never forget some things. I can even recall wondering if the lessons on human reproduction were going to be as graphic (they weren’t). But that day I learned: To be careful what you wish for. To never assume. And to be extremely nice to timid little girls.
And to all our School Leavers I offer my heartiest Congratulations! Well done, all the best for the future, and I hope all your memories are good ones.
Now, get to work.