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Every Life is a Story
    A place to share my own family stories

Monday, March 24, 2008

Short Change

About the time that I was in second grade, my father became interested in CB radios. He had a CB radio setup, and would fiddle with it in the evenings. He was a banker, so his CB handle was "Plug Nickel". As kids, we were FASCINATED with the idea of holding the handheld microphone up to your mouth, pushing the side button, and TALKING to people. And having lots of people in the area HEAR you and talk back!

This was before cellphones and texting, mind you.

What was even more cool than the talking, was the fact that you got to choose a new name! Your own secret codename that was just for using on the radio. Mom chose Sunshine to be her handle. Dad liked the idea of having names related to banking and money, so he called my little sister "Little Penny". I didn't have a handle, however. "Magic Princess" was apparently not on the list of acceptable CB handles my Dad was wiling to let me have. I wanted a handle of my very own, but anything I thought of just didn't work.

In the fall, we decided to have a big family hunting trip out to Eastern Oregon. Everybody loaded up the cars, and headed out to the woods. My sister and I rode in my grandpa's truck, and we listened on the CB radio as all the family members chatted. I REALLY wanted to have a chance to talk on the radio, and my grandpa said I could try it. So I put the microphone up to my mouth, and following the lingo I had heard everybody using, I said, "Breaker Breaker, I'm looking to talk to the Plug Nickel, Plug Nickel do you read?"

My father responded with, "This is the Plug Nickel"

And I said, "Hi, Dad!"

All I heard after that was a smattering of laughter over the CB, and various Uncles and extended family members joking about how quickly I switched from CB talk to little girl talk. I was slightly embarrassed, but I really didn't have anything else to say other than hi, so I grinned and made the best of it. That's when my father came over the CB, and said, "That's it. That's your handle. We're calling you Short Change." And it was perfect! It worked for the banking angle my Dad was looking for, even though it referenced my quick little CB chat.

I didn't really ever speak on the CB after that. It didn't matter. I had my handle, my own secret special name. I was satisfied.

Monday, March 10, 2008

YES! I've Still Got It.....

Thursday and Friday last week I taught 7th grade English and Utah Studies. While I had been volunteering in classrooms, it had been thirteen years since I last taught full time, and NEVER in junior high. It was with great fear and anxiety that I walked into the school with my 7th grade daughter. She very quickly left me to my own devices, and I went to the office. They gave me a security badge, a guidebook complete with rules and maps, showed me where the faculty bathroom was, and wished me a good day.

First period was a prep period, which was actually really bad because it lengthened the anxiety time. I also didn't have much to do beyond read the lesson plans. It was also the only time besides lunch that I had a chance to visit the restrooms, and that was WAY too early. I made sure I didn't drink much through the day.

Second period was a homeroom period, and there was nothing to do but take the kids to the auditiorium so next years class registration could be explained. Easy.

THIRD period, I faced the kids. They were loud. And tall! There were girls taller than I was, and let's not talk about the boys. I took a deep breath, introduced myself, and started. Fortunately, the teacher knew me and had asked me to tell stories as part of the lesson. Once the story started, magic happened the way it happens with every other audience of every other age. They all fell silent. They stared at me, and when I got to the sad part of the story, girls looked at me with stricken faces, and boys tried not to show any emotion about any of it. I had them. The story ended, I gave them a writing assignment, and the magic was over, but I wasn't nervous anymore.

The rest of the classes went the same way. Through the course of the day, I heard all of the traditional excuses kids gave substitutes. "But our teacher ALWAYS lets us...." and "Can I use the bathroom?". When the final bell rang, I was surprised to find that the day had gone by so quickly, and I was still alive!

Day two went just as well. I had a serious power struggle in second period with some eighth grade boys, but the class was short, and they were gone, and I had no other troubles past that. I had less excuses, because I hadn't fallen for them the day before. I had a couple of pranks. The name I had written on the board changed fairly frequently. Easily fixed.

I went home relieved, but also excited. I was still a fairly capable teacher! And I still enjoyed being in front of a classroom of students. Perhaps it's something to think about for the future.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

You Want Me to What?

I was a school teacher a thousand years ago. Give or take a few hundred years. I earned my degree in elementary and special education, and went to work teaching second grade while my husband finished college. As soon as our first child was born, I learned very quickly that I was not one of those people cut out to be a working mother. I became one of the statistics and left the teaching field.

This is not to say that I wasn't involved in schools. I have volunteered in every classroom my children have had, and have been involved in the PTA the minute the kids started kindergarten. I just haven't been back to teach longer than an hour to do storytelling presentations.

So I was surprised when my daughter's seventh grade Language Arts teacher asked if I would be an emergency sub for her class two days this week. Substitute? ME? Well, technically I was qualified. I have the piece of paper that proves it. But...SEVENTH grade? That's not the same as SECOND.

Perhaps it was to prove I still had it. Perhaps it was to punish myself for past misdeeds. Either way, I said yes. I signed up at the district office yesterday, and tomorrow I pack my little paper lunchsack and go back into the classroom for a whole day.

This is a story waiting to happen. I expect it will be a good story because the anticipation is killing me. I'm dreaming about it- those wonderful anxiety dreams where I'm up in front of the class and have nothing to say, or worse.

To be continued....

"To be a person
is to have a story to tell."

- Isak Dinesen  

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