The Cheese started second grade this year. At Back-to-School Night, I flipped through his textbooks and listened to his teacher talk about curriculum. I quickly realized that my son would be learning more in second grade than I did in high school.
I guess that’s how it’s supposed to work. Our children are supposed to learn more than we did and learn it at a much earlier age. My son can already do double-digit math in his head, soaks up entire chapter books with ease, and has at least an hour of homework every night. By today’s educational standards, my children are going to be smarter than I ever thought of being and I’m more than okay with that.
My early elementary memories are hazy. Most of my memories of Pecan Grove are charming—idyllic. I remember the smell of the cinnamon rolls coming from the cafeteria. I remember the rope that you had to climb in P.E. for reasons unknown and getting so excited to learn how to square dance. Elementary school was pretty simple back then.
I remember that on certain Fridays we got to watch a movie in the gym, complete with small bags of popcorn. Mr. Wright, our principal, would come during the intermission and show us how to blow air into our empty popcorn bags and hold them tightly so on his command we could pop them together, making a huge ruckus in our tiny school.
Nowadays, Disney movies aren’t allowed at school unless they are connected to the curriculum and snacks are forbidden because of the childhood obesity problems. Buttery popcorn, “Pete’s Dragon”, and principals with goofy senses of humor just aren’t allowed any more.
I could go on and on about all of my elementary school memories and most of them would have nothing to do with learning. I remember how pretty I thought my second grade teacher, Mrs. Martin, was. She was tall and blond and wore glasses, but the coolest thing about Mrs. Martin was that she was missing part of her right index finger.
She told us that she had injured it while playing basketball. It never healed correctly and eventually had to have part of it removed. It was clear to all of us that Mrs. Martin was the coolest teacher in the school— a basketball beauty that lost part of a finger and had lived to tell about it.
The other thing that I remember most about second grade was Show and Tell. Today’s second graders don’t do Show and Tell. There’s simply no time when their teachers are working so hard to make sure that no child is left behind, but when I was in second grade Show and Tell was a weekly occurrence.
There was one student in my class who had the best Show and Tell even though he didn’t actually show us anything. All he did was tell us what he had eaten at his grandmother’s house over the weekend. You wouldn’t think that this would be entertaining, but the way he talked about his grandmother’s roast and mashed potatoes and gravy made us all groan with hunger and delight.
I had quite a memorable Show and Tell that year myself. My mom had brought our cat, Black Beard, to the school for me to show. About half way through my Show and Tell, Black Beard became overwhelmed by all of the love and attention and decided to use the top of one of my classmate’s desks as a litter box. Shown and Tell was never the same after that. Neither was my friend’s desk.
I know that my children will grow up to have their own special memories of elementary school. Their memories might not involve missing fingers, Show and Tell presentations, and exploding popcorn bags, but they will be special regardless. And probably a lot more educational.