*March 12th will mark the one year anniversary of my Mom's death. In an effort to avoid my usual "milestone approaching" behavior of hiding in bed and eating lots of carbs, I'm celebrating the 12 Days of Mom. As a part of my celebration, I will be writing one of my favorite memories about Mom here each day. These are random tidbits of all the awesome that was my Mom. I'll think you'll like reading more about her. If you're new to reading my blog, proceed with caution. You will find lots of casual writing fraught with grammatical errors. I serve as editor-in-chief around here, which would make any of my high school English teachers shudder.
The year I was in second grade was the highlight of my schooling career. And that is saying something, because I've had some really amazing teachers all the way through. You know, all the way through a master's degree (have I mentioned that?? ha!) But, no teacher will ever hold a candle to my second grade teacher.
First grade had been a time of high anxiety for me. I LOVED my teacher but she was loud and bossy. She hollered at other kids a lot, one kid in particular. I kept trying to tell him if he would just follow the rules he wouldn't be in trouble all the time. I'm sure he really appreciated my seven year old advice. Going into second grade, every student had the same dread-that they would get the really mean teacher. Even as I look back, it's clear that she was the meanest teacher in the school. She looked mean, she sounded mean, and I was terrified. Mom was not a believer in meddling in school affairs. She did not request teachers and she did not make a habit of coming down to the school to confront teachers. So, it was a long summer of biting our nails.
There had been no need for us to worry. Because I ended up in 2nd grade fantasy land. When I think about being a teacher, this is the kind of teacher I want to be. I don't think this will ever happen. My teacher was beautiful, and soft spoken, and sweet and encouraging. I lean more towards loud and bossy. She was super creative-she was teaching way ahead of her time. Now, they train teachers to teach the way she did. At the time she was a complete anomaly.
I could tell a million stories about her. But this is not a post about her, now is it? This story is about the time Mom let me bring home the class pet for summer vacation. If I am remembering correctly we had more than one class pet in our second grade room. By far the most popular pet was a black and white rabbit named Oreo. It was a classroom job to help take care of him and a BIG deal when it was my turn to do the job. As summer vacation approached, my teacher let all of us know that she was looking for someone to take the rabbit home for the summer. Well, I knew right then I was the girl for the job. I went home and asked Mom, just knowing she would be so excited. It turns out she was not excited. *Cue the 8 year old dramatics* I'm pretty sure I told her there was no one nearly as responsible as me in the class. What if something happened to Oreo because you paved the way for some hooligan to take him home? Did I mention Mom had a soft heart?
A few weeks later, we had a new pet.
We kept Oreo's cage in my room. (Which? Blech!! Why did I think that was a good idea?) But, Oreo spent a lot of time out of his cage. There were three of us kids at the time ages 8, 4, and 3. I feel about fifty different kinds of sorry for that poor rabbit looking back. I'm sure he was carried by his ears, and legs and upside down. We spent a lot of time just following him around. We spent a lot of time cleaning up after him. I don't know if you're aware, but rabbits leave a little trail. We also spent a lot of time looking for him and coaxing him out of hiding places. You might also have missed that rabbits can be really fast when they feel threatened. You have to know that Mom was absolutely horrified by this whole situation. She had to have been. But I don't remember her acting that way. She was supportive and sweet. She bought the food and helped me clean out the nasty cage.
Supportive all kind of changed the day the rabbit got outside.
Probably saying "he got outside" is misleading. He was taken outside. By me. I felt he should have some time in his natural habit. You know, a suburban front yard. I thought he would enjoy hopping around in the grass and maybe nibbling on a dandelion. Only, I forgot about the part where around 6 dogs lived within sniffing distance back in the days before leash laws. The worst offender was a dang cocker spaniel who lived next door. I apologize if you are a cocker spaniel lover, because I am a cocker spaniel hater. And I especially hated this dog. He peed on my foot his first day on the block and I still haven't forgiven him. Well, the horrid cocker spaniel came tearing into the yard and picked up Oreo in his mouth and took off running. Oreo. The class pet. On loan to us from the fairy godmother of second grade teachers.
Hysterics ensued. I was screaming and crying. I can remember Mom going after that dog calling his name in her meanest voice. I can tell you she was not afraid of getting between a dog and his "kill". She was afraid to be the mom who let the class pet get eaten by a dog. She chased him down and rapped him on the nose repeatedly until he put Oreo down. I mean, really. That dog could have bitten her hand off!! She brought the bunny to me and ordered me to calm down and go inside.
It took a while for her to come to my room. I think she was probably off somewhere FREAKING OUT. When she came in she said, "When you go back to school, the rabbit goes back. I can't handle the pressure."
I thought surely by the time summer break was over, she would've softened her stance. She did not flinch. And on the first day of third grade she marched in the school building holding Oreo in his rabbit cage. She walked straight to my old second grade classroom and promptly returned the rabbit. The teacher looked at her dumbfounded. And then she said, "In all of my years of teaching, I've never had a pet returned to me after summer vacation."
Mom had a big heart. But even she had to draw the line somewhere!