While I was growing up at 110 Flamingo Street, there was one reason that topped my list as to why I really didn’t like this time of year.
It wasn’t that it was the official end of summer for us kids – which it was. It wasn’t because the local bully somehow always ended up in my classroom – which somehow Down the Street Bully Brad always did.
The fact I had to sit for seven hours – longer if I had detention after school — was a big reason why I didn’t like this time of the year, but it still wasn’t the number one reason.
Nope, the real reason I didn’t like this time of the year were all the rules.
On Flamingo Street our entire summer had only five rules: Don’t hurt your brothers or sister, stay outside and play, stay out of trouble, be home before dinner, and make sure no animals are left in your pants pockets – breathing or not breathing.
So why does school have so many rules? The following are just a few I had problems following while in the academic world.
Old Mrs. Crabtree was my third-grade teacher at Mt. Olive Elementary School. On the very first day she handed out a test and told us not to talk to our neighbor.
Now, I thought this rule was extremely unfair. Thomas sat right next to me, and we’d been neighbors for as far back as I could remember. To not talk to him just wasn’t right. When I broke her rules, Mrs. Crabtree made me move my desk and sit in the hallway.
Wearing shoes. This was another thing about going to school I didn’t like.
During the summer we didn’t have to wear shoes unless we were going to church or a funeral. Not wearing shoes was quite possibly the best thing about summer vacation. Well, that and we weren’t in school.
In school you had to wear shoes all the time. No kicking them off at recess even while playing dodgeball in the giant sandpit.
No slipping them off while sitting at your desk.
And at Briarwood High School, home of the Mighty Buccaneers, Coach Reeves made you wear rubber-soled shoes before you got onto the basketball court. He said all those black marks from hard-soled shoes would ruin the floor.
How a shoe could damage a floor made out of hardwood with 10 layers of clear coating, I didn’t have a clue. I just followed the rule and changed my shoes.
Doing homework was also a hard rule to follow – one that followed me from Mt. Olive to Briarwood. Someone made a rule that once assigned, homework actually had to be completed each night.
Don’t know who made the rule, but I’ll bet it wasn’t a student. And the excuse that the dog ate my homework only works once and only if you have a dog. I know, it’s unfair, but it’s a rule.
Possibly the hardest rule to follow while in school is something I still struggle with even today. To tell a 10-year-old to sit, be still, and pay attention for hours on end is just asking way too much.
The Wife will say I still can’t follow this rule. If we’re watching a movie, I’ll get up five times to walk around and stretch my legs. And yes, when I do, I don’t have shoes on.
Looking back, life in school would’ve be a whole lot easier if I’d simply followed all the rules.
I probably would’ve gotten much better grades also. So exactly where did I encounter the most rules during my academic life?
It had to be Briarwood High School, Home of the Mighty Buccaneers in Mrs. Newsome’s 11th-grade English class.
The English language has so many rules I couldn’t remember half of them and can’t remember many of them now.
Lucky for me, the one rule I do remember about English happens to be the most important rule of all. If you’re going to write, have a good editor.
[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, served as a firefighter for more than two decades and has been a weekly columnist since 2001. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org. His books are available at www.RickRyckeley.com.]