Thursday, September 1, 2011


Who knew such evil lurked beneath the Carol Brady hair?
Yesterday I mentioned my first day of school ritual with my kids, as well as the ritual inflicted upon me by my mother -- namely that horrible little song she woke me with.  I still get a twitch in my left eye when I think of it.

Well, coincidentally, today she wrote a school-related post on her blog, Lillian's Cupboard, about going to an inner-city grade school in Cincinnati during the Depression.  It's an interesting read and has an adorable picture of a little girl with finger curls...  (You can read it here.)  What was most startling to me, though, was the poem she included.  My mother wrote it at age nine in 1942 just before starting back to school for the year:

Poem by Lillian (9 years old) – August, 1942

I love to go to school
And see the teachers dear
There to teach us children
All through the year.

I love to go to school
To learn to write and read
And there to learn to be
Very good indeed.

I love to go school
Because it’s so much fun
For when I have gym
I sometimes get to run.

I love to go to school
Way up into June
For you see I am so anxious
School will be starting soon.

In autumn when the leaves are falling
We hear the children’s voices calling
I think how glad they must be
To go to school the same as me.

It's at moments like this that I question whether she's really my mother.  And she was completely sincere in her sentiments.  I, on the other hand, was about to grab for the bucket I haven't used since I had morning sickness.

My Grandmother
When I spoke to my mother yesterday, she reminded me that her mother had sung the same little first day of school song to her and that she didn't lob a Buster Brown loafer at the woman.  Well, now I can see why.   My mother genuinely loved school.  I genuinely hated it.   And how could a person who would've shown up to school an hour early possibly understand a person who wanted to pull the blanket over her head and show up a month late?  (I might add that my mother also didn't fling a shoe because my Grandma Martha would have smacked her over the head with it.  You didn't mess with her.)

I imagine my mother as a student -- very studious, intelligent, eager to please, quiet, respectful.  In other words a teacher's dream.  The same descriptive words could also apply to The Professor, though.  Not long ago my mother and I were discussing our belief that all teachers really want is kids to behave and try.  Academic excellence is wonderful, but I think most teachers would be happy with a roomful of kids who don't cause disruptions and who give their work their best efforts.   For that reason, The Professor has always been well liked by his teachers, gets kudos on his report cards, and is usually described as so "nice."

I must say, though, that The Professor isn't quite the student-clone of my mother.  She writes lovely little poems like the above.  My son, on the other hand, tends to be a little more left of center.  He recently filled out a 7th grade get-to-know-you sheet for a teacher.  One of the questions was, "If you could have lunch with three people, living or dead, who would they be?"  He wrote down his Grandpa Frank (deceased), his Grandpa David (deceased), and...Ed Begley, Jr." 

You might also be interested in:

The First Day of School Ritual

Schools Days - Cincinnati - 1930s-1940s

The Inmates -- Meet the Professor



Kathie said...

I loved school too! Now you haven't mentioned foghorn and her teachers ;-) .

My Josh brought home "perfect pig" on Tuesday. His teacher started it on Monday. Apparently she has this pig and if you exhibit 'perfect' behavior (in all aspects of the day) you get to bring home perfect pig for the night. Josh was the 2nd student to bring him home. Ben kept saying what a stupid pig it was (insert eye roll here). I just looked at Ben and told him I didn't see a 'perfect pig' in his future ;-) .

Shannon Breen said...

Perfect pig! I love it! And naturally he'd be one of the first to bring him home. Ben, on the other hand...well, let's just say I'd keep all sharp objects away from the poor piggy. ;)

You never know about Ben, though, because believe it or not Foghorn does very well in school. I always ask at the parent-teacher conferences if she talks non-stop and I'm always told that she doesn't talk when it's not appropriate. Go figure... She does, however, have a little of the class clown in her so I'm waiting to see if the urge to amuse people will overpower her urge to please teachers.

Anonymous said...

Ed Begley, Jr????? I can just imagine the conversation around the table with Josh, the two grandpas and Ed Begley, Jr.

Anonymous said...

LOVE your blog! It's hilarious!