This is a story from way back . I was teaching 4th grade at St. Clement School in Venice , California . Way back , now that I think of it , in a previous century . Could that be ?
The 2nd grade teacher used to sometimes send misbehaving students to me for a time -out . Maybe she sent other students to all of the other teachers , too . There were only eight of us . Doesn’t matter .
One day she sent over to my room a little kid named Chance . Chance had an assignment ; in his hand he carried a sheet of paper . I had him sit toward the back of my classroom and I continued my thrilling , informative , exciting 4th grade lesson . I don’t remember my lesson that day at all , but hey ! I should have the right to self-promote a little at this point, at this late date , shouldn’t I ? What does it all matter now ! You know what I mean ? St. Clement School is a thing of the past , too , as it happens . Relegate it all to the ether .
I noticed that Chance was not busy . I quietly reminded him that he had an assignment from his teacher . So he took a pencil and began scribbling on the blank paper . I watched him as I taught my class . Scribble , scribble , scribble . Scribble , Chance , scribble . See Chance scribble .
Eventually I walked over to his desk , leaned over . ” Now , chance , you should be doing your assignment ,” I told him .
He looked up at me with an expression on his face that was , shall I say , dismissive . His little smirk said : You idiot ! , and his dark eyes added to that analysis . ” I am doing it ! ” he said , rather indignantly .
I picked up the scribbled-up page from the desk . Examined it . He had done a thorough job of scribbling . The page was almost completely covered with a patina of pencil lead . ” What’s the assignment ? ” I asked .
” We have to draw something that starts with W ,” he said. He pushed the words out reluctantly , as if the question didn’t deserve the reply , as if he regretted getting involved with these trouble-making teachers , having to answer stupid questions , having to do stupid assignments .
I was patient , though. ” What’s the W word that you’ve drawn ? ” I asked .
Chance scowled . Forced himself to answer me. ” It’s a walrus ! “, he said . He said the word walrus very expressively , as if to say : any fool knows that ; there it is ; can’t you see that ?
” It doesn’t look like a walrus , ” I said .
He put his head down on the desktop for a couple of seconds , as if he were summoning energy enough to answer this fool teacher again , forcing himself . He looked me straight in the eye . ” It’s under water , ” he said . He stretched the word water out about three times it’s usual length . He gave the first syllable special emphasis . To emphasize his frustration . To let me know what he thought of this whole school education business . As if to say : How could any living being be so dumb !
I wondered today what might have become of Chance . I’m hoping that Chance had a little luck and made it through o.k. and is a happy middle-aged man now , doing something worthwhile per chance . He was one of my favorites , that kid .