One of my school traumas revolved around the fact that I was LURED into the educational fold with promises of ‘Show and Tell’, an insidious little program designed to quiet the ‘schoolphobic’ child. Much like catch-and-release, though, it quickly vanished a semester or two into it, just when I was getting into the full swing of things and anticipated show-and-tell fun lasting into junior and senior highs.
Ah Life – there is thy sting!
Speaking of ‘sting’, apparently Show and Tell had many hidden rules, which I uncovered one by one:
1. Thou shalst not bring anything with a stinger – nor any vestibule stingers. Thus, my presentation of the coveted, NEARLY empty Paper Wasp Nest evoked a dance similar to a Round Dance, in that everyone ran around the room in circles screaming (…I thought joyously, but that was apparently just me….) when two sleepy, left-behind militia wasps buzzed out to investigate the sudden change of real estate around them and discovered their lawn paradise had been traded for Teacher’s Desk. You had to admit: MINE was a stop/motion presentation beyond my years. Everyone stopped and then motion began much like the big bang: an outward trajectory spreading to the classroom door and beyond. Thus proving (a) the Big Bang theory (b) that no wasp nest is TRULY left unguarded and (c) if the car’s hot enough for the drive in, a nest in an unassuming paper bag will also stay warm enough to keep its waspy residents napping till showtime.
2. Thou shalst not bring thy Little Sister. Oh sure – nearly everyone in 1st grade harbored one of these at home. But MINE was unique in its ability to wet-on-command. I taught her much like I did the family dog (see prior email/email me for it if you’re a new subscriber) and all I can say here is – a pocketful ‘o Oreos goes a LONG way in the training process. While my mom was still futilely workin’ on the basic concept of ‘potty’, I had successfully instilled my ‘pee on command’ portion of the program with the aid of only a few hundred Oreos and chocolate chippers. The classroom was impressed (even if Teacher was not) and siblings promptly rushed home to ask parents for (a) siblings and (b) a handful of cookies, to begin their own training process.
3. Horsies. Other kids brought in the (despised) plastic kind. Me, I settled for nuttin’ less than the REAL THING. There was only ONE horsie anywhere in the urban San Francisco region that I knew of – and that was our new cop-on-horsieback-patrolman who clomped his way around the urban blocks undoubtedly seeking errant foliage perps. How a small child managed to strike up a conversation with someone seated like 50 feet in the air is one thing; how she then managed to corral a Show ‘n Tell visit to the correct place and time is beyond modern ken. I nearly had to have Teacher lassoed to get my class into the schoolyard ‘cause sadly Mr. Policeman steadily maintained that NO, he could NOT fit his horsie into the school corridors for an in-classroom demo. So the entire school was treated to the BEST show-and-tell of all. All I can say is: nuttin’ beats a healthy dose of reality. I simply ADORE horsies – they are SOO cooperative. The grand finale: a steamin’ pile of – well, manure – deposited healthily in the middle of the schoolyard as a parting gift to Janitor Bob, who grumbled that his vast repertoire did NOT include Dung Cleanup Materials.
4. Bunnies. Live, of course. Now, soft – Show and Tell quite often featured ‘Live’ (admittedly, most brought in by Moi. And I am here to tell you: a pocketful of caterpillars may delight and amaze one’s peers, but they are NOT appreciated by Teacher, despite the obvious opportunity to teach Metamorphosis 101 to an earlier age group.) Dad had several Bunnies in a cage in back (well, at least half the time they were in their cage. The remainder of the time they enjoyed their Under the Giant Cactus habitat, compliments of a jailbreak orchestrated by moi…). I somehow talked Mom into putting Thumper in his carrier and managed not to spill the beans on his impending classroom freedom march, so Mom was FINE with Thumper being my Show ‘n Tell. All I can say is – was it MY fault I didn’t know about Thumper’s superbunny power of hopping faster than a roomful of 4-5-year-olds can run? Was it MY fault SuzyQ’s return from the bathroom occurred at an inopportune (for the humans, that is) moment, resulting in Thumper’s hallway jailbreak? And, was it MY fault that Janitor Bob, having not quite recovered from my Horsie Show and Tell, seemed to still lack the proper cleaning supplies necessary to handle the (admittedly excessive) outlay of a terrified wabbit who demonstrated his fear by producing an unbelievably rich poop trail everywhere he hopped?
….Studying the escape route…
5. Snakes. Now, Mom hated snakes with a passion. And luckily rattlers didn’t live in San Francisco; ‘cause I for one couldn’t envision a snake attached to a baby’s rattle – and longed for at least one up-front-and-personal inspection. BUT we did harbor a goodly amount of salamanders: no rattle, but they sported actual tiny feets! And certain times of year they became big, fat, slow, and possible to catch. Was it MY fault my Salamander Diorama gots a little out of hand and quickly vanished to all 4 corners of the classroom, to make sudden cameo appearances at unusual moments in the days ahead – like at Open House a week later – which resulted in the (puzzling) screaming exit of a handful of mothers certain they ‘saw a snake’? And finally – was it MY fault these ignorant women couldn’t apparently discern the difference between ‘snake’ and ‘salamander’?? (If THIS was an indication of the results of our educational system – I wasn’t impressed.)
…what part of “NOT a snake” is so hard to get, here???
Show and tell. One of the highlights of my early education.
And they gots rid of it before I could really sink my teeth in its juicy possibilities.