Suppy Sup! Second-Grade Memories
Memories Of Second Grade
In which I reminisce.
A Life Sentence
My second-grade teacher was different.
She “didn’t assign homework.” Still, I distinctly remember crying at home over an assignment I didn’t finish in class. The sheet of paper had a picture of a boy holding an ice cream cone. Our task? Write two sentences about the picture.
Easy, I thought. “The boy has some ice cream,” I wrote. Halfway there!
Tears alighted the paper. My salty discharge soaked through the 2D outline of the boy’s ice cream cone. What else is there to say?
Young Cole couldn’t fathom possibilities beyond the pictured image. Was the ice cream cone a magical one, promising superpowers to those who dare lick it? Maybe the boy was an alien, investigating Earth food and intending to bring his research back to the planet Glarb. Or maybe the boy lost his tee ball game and his parents bought him ice cream to cheer him up. Never mind that I don’t enjoy ice cream or baseball.
I don’t remember what I drummed up to qualify for the assignment. I only remember the tears and the heartbreak. I have a college degree in creative writing, though. I’m thankful I overcame that particular bout of writer’s block.
Show And Tell
In second grade, show and tell was a sick sort of game, a contest of ideas. Anybody could “show” or “tell” anything. There were no limits to our expression, and often Show and Tell sessions would last 30+ minutes.
Creativity was rewarded insofar as your idea was creative and you never once even attempted to execute on it. Simply announcing you planned to write a book would be enough to earn you clout for the day. Or so you thought.
In my case, my brainstorming partner, Matt, encouraged me to share our book idea as a partnership. High on excitement, I hijacked the performance.
“We’re writing a book,” Matt said, and the eyes in the room locked onto us. We had ‘em. They were hooked. Suckers.
I chimed in. “And we’re calling it…” hold for that sweet, sweet anticipation, “…THE GYMNASTICS PUPPY.”
Matt turned to me and said “Well, we haven’t decided on that.” The class laughed, and my dreams of a Bernese Mountain Dog doing an uneven bar routine were dashed.
In another display of Show and Tell hubris, I brought a model car my Uncle Frank had gifted me. This was a big clout-earner because of the upcoming “Races,” which I’ll discuss later.
My model car, a gleaming blue-and-white stock vehicle, had an unfortunate run-in with a mushy banana in my backpack. I don’t know how the banana got loose, and can only assume the car entered some Mario Kart-esque Grand Prix while I rode the bus to school.
My resolve didn’t waver one bit. I presented the car, interior overflowing with banana innards and exterior caked in the gross sludge the banana had become.
“This is…um…a model car my uncle Frank gave me.”
All told, the presentation probably took about 20 seconds. IT was long enough for my classmates to notice the sick yellow-brown slime adorning my model car. This did NOT bode well for the Races.
Matt—same one from above—would bounce around to different pods of kids during our free time talking up the “Races,” an event I can only assume he made up on the spot.
Nevertheless, the promise of a high-octane drag race in our classroom took hold and dominated free time for months. Everyone in class took to the K’Nex box, eager to construct their own Races-worthy vehicle.
I build a small but formidable four-wheeler. It drove fast. It didn’t veer off course. It had moxie!
I traded it to Leeann Fischler for a “drag racer,” which amounted to a hulking square construct without any wheels.
When the Races finally arrived, Matt set up a ramp and a few obstacles. Cars that could make it over the ramp and venture furthest along the predetermined track would win.
My turn came, and I hawked my lumbering square toward the ramp. The second it made contact, the entire vehicle became about 50 individual K’Nex pieces.
Leeann’s car, the one I had made, won the whole thing.
Our class pet was a Golden Gecko named Sammy Sosa. He wasn’t unveiled until we properly guessed it was a lizard. We got one collective guess per day, and we’d already cycled through bunny, dog, cat, tarantula, scorpion, butterfly, and cockroach.
At the end of the school year, anyone whose parents approved could enter a raffle to win Sammy Sosa and take him home. I was one of four pre-approved children, and I won the dang lizard.
I don’t have anything funny to share about him. I loved Sammy Sosa. He lived until I was deep into seventh grade. Amazing pet all around.
I wish, for the life of me, I could remember who told me it was a good idea to climb over the urinals and into the full bathroom stalls. But someone did—a mystery kid— and I took to the idea like a dank smell takes to a Lollapalooza porta-potty.
I had “special privileges” in second grade. By “special privileges,” I mean “I had to pee all the time and the teacher allowed me to simply get up and go instead of asking her.”
When the mystery kid (did he ever really exist? I’m starting to wonder) showed me the wonders of climbing on urinals, I swiftly took advantage of my privilege to take climbing breaks.
I wasn’t even that good at it. I never worked up the courage to make it all the way over the bathroom stall wall. I got as far as the top of a urinal, and that was it. I left that world unconquered.
One day, I saw the mystery kid heading for the bathroom from his classroom across the hall. He made quick eye contact on his way there. I stood up and accompanied him to our
bouldering gym bathroom and we loudly reveled in the joys of summiting Mount Urinal.
I looked over the wall of the stall. Could this be the time I surmount this obstacle and make it to the other side? I turned to look at mystery kid, ready to tell him today was the day. And when I turned, I saw Mrs. Smith, mystery kid’s teacher, staring us down from the bathroom entrance.
We silently accompanied her down the hallway, where she deposited me in front of my own classroom. She spoke to my teacher in front of everyone, interrupting the in-progress story time I had abandoned for porcelain pastures.
“One of yours. One of mine. Climbing over the stalls in the bathroom.”
My teacher looked at me, disappointed, and quietly said “Come sit down, Cole.”
I hung my head and did as told. Never once did she pull me aside to discuss the incident. And never once did I climb the urinals again. I lived in fear of repercussions for the remainder of the year. I don’t know whether she ever told my parents. That one simple phrase—“Come sit down, Cole”—was enough.
Some things I wrote recently!
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