I really didn’t mind going to the school. I knew the secretary there and was fully confident of getting a warm hug from her. Hugs are therapeutic. Once, when I was putting my camera battery in the recharger, it occurred to me that hugs were like the battery charger. At least for me, hugs recharge my batteries.
I went into the school, got happy smiles and the expected warm hug, and began filling out the necessary papers to take my granddaughter from school. When I came to the part where it asked for a reason, I realized that it was much too simple to just write, “Sickness,” so I put down, “Terminal halitosis.”
Terminal halitosis got a few laughs. Even the granddaughter, after I explained what halitosis was, got a good chuckle. She knows me well. Together, we explored a few other sicknesses that we could have used. Terminal flatulence also got a good laugh.
A few days ago at church, the mother of one of my primary kids said that her 11-year-old son would not be in my class that day. She said that he had spent the morning throwing up. I said, “Dang, I wish I had thought of that.”
When I was a boy in the little Colorado town my mother allowed me to be a couple of hours late for school so that I could watch our little Jersey milk cow give birth. I followed the uncomfortable little cow around the pasture, watching her lie down, strain then stand again as she tried to find a position that was comfortable. I have no idea what might have been covered in school that day, but I will never forget the lessons learned watching the emergence of the new calf.
Mom sent me to school that morning with a written excuse. She was a bit creative, explaining what had happened and referring to me as the attendant, as though my presence at the birth of the calf were necessary.
I was not so lucky as to be given a good excuse for missing school another day in the little Colorado town. Frankly, I ditched school and went fishing over in Church Hollow. That might not have been so bad except that I took a younger cousin with me. The way the adults carried on over that little misadventure, you’d think I had completely destroyed my cousin’s chances at having any success in life. His divorce, economic failures and social disgraces can all be laid at my truant feet. Who knew a 12-year-old wielded such power?
There was an algebra teacher at Smiley Jr. High in Durango whom most everyone feared. She was undoubtedly mean. She seemed to enjoy making unprepared students weep in front of the class. My dad, God bless him, thought there were things more important than school. I absolutely agreed on that point. It was with a racing heart and trembling hands that I took a note to her asking to be allowed to go deer hunting with my dad. To my astonishment, she let me go.
I remember someone, not I, put a thumb tack on the algebra teacher’s chair. She sat on it without effect. When we checked it out, the pin was bent. I figured the tack must have hit a rivet.
In high school in Moab, I wrote most of my own excuses. My mother trusted me and I tried to not abuse her trust.