I Wanted to Be Teacher’s Pet

This morning I ran into Scarlet’s first grade teacher walking her students into school, and I realized with shock that she will pretty soon be “two teachers ago” for Scarlet. It breaks my heart! Add in Des’ preschool graduation, and I can’t..do it.

Stop trying to make me do it, life!

teacher's pet

  • In kindergarten, my mom made my reading teacher cry. Oh, maybe I shouldn’t tell this story, lest you think my mom is a bully. She’s not. My reading teacher was also not a bully. I DO remember her having very cranky eyes. (seriously, I wrote that in my diary) During a phone conference and unaware of a too-recent tragedy in my life, my teacher told my mom that I looked sad all of the time, looked out the window, and didn’t do my work. My mom snapped back, “Well gee, maybe it’s because she just watched her father fall down and die.” I think, but I don’t know, that my reading teacher’s cranky eyes turned sad. I know she gave me what I needed after that and that soon, I read better than most of my class.

teacher's pet

  • In 1st grade, my teacher was 102-years-old. No, really. (maybe 70?) She kept a little parakeet named LGB. (Little Green Bird). One day the sixth grade teacher’s class pet tarantula escaped and bit into some wires in the gym. (I can’t make this stuff up) It caused some sort of fire or smoke or gas problem and we were all evacuated and sent home for about seven years while they rebuilt the school. Actually I fact-checked with my mom and it was only about a weekend or so. When we came back, my childhood best friend and I both noticed that LGB had different feathers. All I know is that my teacher gave us a look that could probably still make me jump, and told us to never, ever tell anyone else what we saw.

LGB was the true teacher’s pet, because it wasn’t me! I once called her “Daddy” by accident.

I used to want to be the teacher's pet! This time of year has work, activities, and school overload. Take time to enjoy the time that's left now! #parenting

  • Second grade. I used to think my 2nd grade teacher was so old and really, she was under 30. She was probably around 25 or so! A mere baby! Oh, how our perspectives are funny sometimes. She had a chipmunk statue I played with.

teacher's pet

  • In third grade, I was teacher’s pet, for perhaps the first time in life. It was when I first learned, as I keep learning throughout life, is that I’m a fierce, competitive, driven achiever if all conditions are right. If not, well I look sad and stare out the window a lot when I’m supposed to be learning. My teacher used to actually say to other students, “Follow Tammy’s example. Do exactly what she’s doing” about pretty much anything I did. I was a temporary rockstar.

teacher's pet

  • Fourth grade. I had an actual witch as a teacher. She made me cry harder when I was already crying. She drowned our class pet crickets because she didn’t like their chirping. And, she was let go from our school. However, my warrior mother had already had me placed nicest woman on the planet’s class. You can check her credentials against other nice people you know. She was always happy and we played games and since we had a tortuous 1:00 pm lunchtime, she’d always make sure we didn’t go hungry. One day her eyes were red from crying all day. No one else mentioned it. That night I slaved away on a card for her, writing that I noticed she was sad and that it hurt my heart. I added a little box of pink and white M&Ms I had gotten from my dad’s work. I snuck it onto her desk at the end of the next day. She called later that night to thank me and tell me I had a way of expressing myself through writing that touched her heart..

teacher's pet

  • My fifth grade teacher told me if I didn’t become a writer, she’d eat her own arm. She thought that my writing was so sad, so that I didn’t have to be. I filled up dozens of black and white marbled composition books in her class. One day I wrote a story about the man in the moon who smiles at good people and literally moons bad people. I know she talked about it in the teacher’s lounge because other teachers would ask me to read my story. One night recently I told that story to Scarlet before bedtime. We both got the giggles for a long time before sleep finally took over.

I used to want to be the teacher's pet! This time of year has work, activities, and school overload. Take time to enjoy the time that's left now! #parenting

  • In sixth grade, I had many teachers. One was amazing. He was/is(?) seriously gifted. Funny, heartfelt, caring, intuitive. I had a really rough time that year, amid more pretty and more achieving peers. He knew I’d find myself one day and he told me so. One day he had his amazing daughter have lunch with a few of us and she stopped lunch, pointed at me and asked, “Who is that, Daddy? She’s pretty.” I was so unaware that in any reality she could be talking about me that I hunched over my sandwich and didn’t look up. And, I must have looked ungrateful but I honestly couldn’t believe it. I was the epitome of gawky. I took it to new levels. Maybe he told her to say that. I doubt it. She was only six or so.

Either way, I never forgot what that felt like.

teacher's pet

After that, there were always many teachers. Team teaching in middle school. High school and college. I never forgot a teacher or professor. One was a former Chippendales dancer, the rumors stated. He had a rivalry with another of our teachers and they would have us pull pranks on the other. I’m talking tampons in his desk drawer. These are the things you never forget. These teachers of our lives. They see the rawest sides of us, at times, and we see that of them, at times. There is an attachment. To be honest, I’m so bad with change I don’t know how I got through the graduations. I suppose the wonder that is summer vacation kept me happy and distracted for all that I was giving up in cozy and familiar classrooms.

And as you can see above, I was also gaining something new every year.

I used to want to be the teacher's pet! This time of year has work, activities, and school overload. Take time to enjoy the time that's left now! #parenting

So I wrote this little (big?) post here because teachers are magical.

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  1. Aw, as a former teacher who wanted to to be a teacher as little girl, I couldn’t agree more about teachers being magical. That said, I loved reading about all your teacher experiences for each grade level here. Oh and by the way, we really are twins, because 4th grade teacher was an absolute witch, too. Seriously, I had awesome teachers pretty much throughout, but not in 4th grade and don’t think I will ever forget that either!

  2. They really are. But you know what? You are really magical, too, Tamara 🙂

    Ohhh, that’s sad about the little green bird 🙁 and also the teacher who drowned the crickets. The hell? Why on earth did your school have a pet tarantula?!? SO many questions!

    You really do have such a wonderful way with words, and I’m glad that this gift was fostered by some of these wonderful teachers who clearly guided you over the years. XOXO

    1. And YOU are magical. Never forget that?
      Why the science teacher had a pet tarantula? I may never know that one..
      Teachers are proving themselves to be better than I ever imagined lately, and better than I ever thought I’d have to imagine..

  3. Teachers are really magical. Both my parents are. And I can tell you vividly, that nature knows how to reward them for their hardwork, even when they’re not well paid.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  4. Teachers are magical and it is so true that we don’t forget any of them. It’s teachers appreciation week in our school and it’s wonderful to see the teachers get pampered. Love the stories and wow on the teacher that drowned the crickets!

    1. She was so awful. With Scarlet starting fourth grade next year, I’m glad neither of the fourth grade teachers have this particular brand of evil!

  5. Aw, you have such a good memory of all of your teacher, Tamara. Funny, sad and wonderful stories! Love the pictures. Of course that little girl had never seen such a beautiful girl until she saw you. That is so sweet! I recently thought of my Grade 5 teacher. He was my favorite of ALL my teachers including college and University. 😀 Mr. Nickel was his name. He walked to school every day. He always whistled when he walked, too.

  6. I always wanted to be teachers pet. OMG thats a crazy story, if I was that teacher I would have broken down and cried also. Wow your first grade teacher was 102? That’s pretty amazing. What? Your class pet was a tarantula, now that’s exciting. I remembering loving my 2nd grade teacher and feeling sad for my 5th grade teacher she used to complain about her love life so it was nearly impossible not to feel bad for her. I love all of these throw back pictures.

    1. She wasn’t really 102 – but she seemed it at the time! She was probably in her 70’s, or even younger! The 6th graders had a pet tarantula but we had a parakeet. Much better!

  7. Teachers can often make or break you. Fortunately I had many who made me. One of them, a very dear friend who taught me honors English and encouraged me to press ahead in my career, died a few months ago from cancer. But the memory of great teachers lives on, and that’s what you showed us in this beautiful post, Tamara. Your sensitivity and gift with words was evident to your teachers from early, and they helped nurture it, each in his or her own way. Hugs, Ali

    1. That is fortunate! And I had more of the same. I’m so sorry about your teacher passing away from cancer. That’s what happened with my favorite.

  8. You have such vivid memories of all of your early teachers. I don’t… I guess I wasn’t as reflective/thoughtful. I can’t believe you were keeping a diary in Kindergarten. I think I was still learning my letters LOL! Thanks to all the wonderful teachers out there!

    1. Des is in kindergarten now and I can’t imagine him keeping a diary! I didn’t either.. and now I can’t remember when I first really kept one. It was pretty rudimentary at first!

  9. One of the many things that I like about your blog, Tamara, is that you get me thinking about experiences from my past. Because my birthday comes near the end of the year, my parents put me in private school for first grade so In wouldn’t have been “held behind.” I loved my teacher in that year. I can recall having dinner at her home and she always made me feel so special. I need to add that I do not recommend doing this, especially for boys because, from then on, I was the youngest smallest last to get his driver’s licence guy. I think I would have had a much easier childhood if I had been held back.

    1. Interesting perspective. Des is a June birthday, which is really middle of the year. Cut off for kindergarten is September. I guess a lot do wait that extra year because Des is easily one of the youngest in his class, if not the youngest. I can’t imagine him reading at the same level as those kids. Well that’s because they’re a YEAR older!

  10. You have the best memory! Nope, you just can’t make up real life stores like you shared. My memory has gotten fuzzy as the years have gone by of some of my teachers, but there were several that were pretty critical at a time I needed what they taught me. More than math, right?

  11. I am loving your school recaps. I don’t think I can remember much of what happened when I was in elementary school, I do remember a few but nothing major. BTW you need to share that picture of the man in the moon. I’d love to hear it.

  12. Teachers are so important. I feel like they should be more valued than sports players or movie stars. They have such an important job – and the best ones are definitely magical. This post is pretty magical too!

    1. Why, thank you! And I hope in our future, especially with what’s going on in the world today, that we really do honor and celebrate teachers like the superstars they are.

  13. Oh, this is so sweet! I can remember all of my elementary school teachers, and most of my middle and high school teachers. Some had lasting impacts, and pretty much all of my elementary school teachers were really great in their own way. It’s amazing how people’s lives they can touch or affect!

    1. But I can’t remember a single college professor or TA, except my Expository Writing one because he kinda looked like Jeff Goldblum. Who could forget that?

  14. There are so few teachers that I can remember any more. I had a university prof who used to chew tobacco in class and spit into a can that he kept in his back pocket. I must have had 30 teachers, and he’s the only one I can remember.

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