Lancient History

The Dunce Cap

I think I caused Thor his first tardy this morning. Ice, you know. I hope he did all right. He was in the school a minute before the bell rang, and had disappeared down the hallway, and I had walked back into the parking lot before I heard it going off. Maybe he made it?

I spent a lot of time in trouble at school. Mom got notes saying things like, “Lane is a very social child,” and “Lane needs to be less concerned with other children’s work.” See, if I felt like it was taking too long for a child to learn something, I would take over for the teacher. Obviously, she couldn’t handle it. I knew how to do it. Thank you, Mrs. Barnett, I’ll take it from here.

I sat out in the hall at least once a week. Maybe more like once a day. By first grade, I had figured out how to make the most of my time, and would fantasize elaborate getaway schemes. I figured if I could just get hold of a dog costume, I could wear it under my clothes, and change into a dog when sent out in the hall. I figured the principal would pat me on the head, and let me outside, and I could get home from there. My only problem was in where to find a dog costume.

Sitting in the hall, or standing in the corner were just my norm. I was resigned to it. I didn’t mean to talk in class, but things needed saying, you know? And that was the worst of it. I was a talker.

Twice, in elementary school, I was sent to the principal’s office. Mrs. Hopkins. She was a short, even to me, red-headed woman, with big black shoes and thick stockings, and had a red spot in the white of one eye. The first time I was called in, it was because another early-drop-off student was in the library with me, and she hid all the date stamps in the card catalog (under S for stamp.) She was a 5th grader, and she threatened to beat me up if told anyone, so I didn’t say a word until Mrs. Hopkins suggested I was the one who had hidden the stamps. Then, I sang like a canary.

The second time was because of problems on the school bus. I had my part in those problems because I was an aggravating heifer, but I promised to cool it.

In 4th grade, I started spending a lot of time in the nurse’s office, in the sickroom. 3rd grade was when the worst of my stomach issues began–I had acid reflux (plus a few other issues) before it was a media friendly term. I even made it into a medical journal as a case study! My gullet is famous! In 4th grade, I also started spending a lot of recesses indoors because I wasn’t turning in my homework. Because making me stay inside in air conditioning, in a room full of books, being told all I was allowed to do was sit there and read was a punishment. Will you think less of me for admitting that when I realized my detentions were running low, I would pull a stunt just to be kept inside again? Punishment would have been to make me go outside.

Funnily enough, I did not get into any kind of trouble at all in 5th grade, save for having my name written on the board once. 6th grade was all kinds of hell, and I hid in the nurse’s office frequently. I kept my nose clean through 7th and 8th grades, with one exception for having used algebra to make fun of a classmate.

Honestly, with my math issues, my teacher should have given me extra credit. Instead, I got a trip to the Vice Principal for a paddling. He told me if I would sing him a song, he would pretend it had never happened. Again, like a canary.

In 10th grade, I learned how to skip school. An upper classman filled me in on the fact that Sister Isabelle never actually asked to speak to your mom, when you called home from the office phone. “Dial time and temperature. Pretend you’re asking to go home. Cover the phone with your hand and ask Sister Isabelle if she needs to talk to your mother. She’ll say no. If she says yes, get clumsy and disconnect.”

You give a mouse a cookie… You give a 16 year old a car and a too-trusting, eldery nun…

I also learned, in 10th grade, that if you failed a class, it wasn’t as big a deal as everyone had said. I failed Geometry, the only math I ever understood, by refusing to turn in homework. I made As and Bs on tests, and 0s on all my homework. I was protesting my parents, who were both behaving abonimably then (yeah. that’s how I rebelled, baby. I refused to turn in homework. I am so hardcore!) So I flunked the last half of Geometry, making my teacher crazy, and spent half a summer doing all the homework I had refused to do previously.

I didn’t mind summer school. It was something to do other than go to a stinking camp. So when Algebra II rolled around, I saw no reason to bother with it either. I skipped as much school than I attended in 11th and 12th grades, and I took the first semester of Algebra II twice, and the second semester three times. I finally tested out of it in order to graduate.

But you know what? I was never tardy. Ever. Mom had to drop me off an hour before school started, in order to get to work. So, I was always early, never tardy.

That in mind, maybe I’m actually starting Thor off right.

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