Tender Teacher

Sharing stories about my personal and professional life as a teacher.

Posts Tagged ‘health

Burning Trash

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Corrugated cardboard

Image via Wikipedia

One of my favorite chores when I was nine years old was burning trash.   Each day after the supper dishes were washed and dried I got to take the trash out back to the “burn spot” in the garden.  This spot was moved from time to time, because ashes were good for the garden.

First, I put the cans, glass, and other items that wouldn’t burn into the garbage can, then I meandered to the “burn spot”.   I felt proud that my parents trusted me to do this “grown-up” job, and I puffed up even bigger when a passer-by would say, “Does your parents allow you to burn trash?”

Now, of course,there were rules:  Come back in and tell us if it is windy before you set the fire.  Stand up-wind from a breeze.  Make sure no children are close by.  When you strike the match make sure it is far away from your dress or coat.  Don’t come back in until the fire is out.

I was, no doubt, good at following rules, and could be trusted, or my parents wouldn’t have given me this important chore at such a young age.  However, one afternoon, I almost lost my job, because of poor judgment.  A new, bubbly friend, Cathy, had moved in across the street.  She was in my fourth grade class.  Everyone loved her, because she was so much fun.  She came over when I was burning trash.  I didn’t think of her as a child, because after all, she was the same age as me.

When Cathy arrived I was feeding corrugated cardboard to the fire a little at a time, so the fire didn’t become too big.  She took a piece of torn cardboard and put just the end of it into the fire, and then showed me how you could suck the smoke through the rib openings.  She attempted to show me how to blow smoke rings.  This looked like so much fun, and since both my parents smoked I wasn’t afraid to have smoke in my mouth.  So, I tried it too, but I didn’t have much luck making any smoke rings either.  Soon, the cardboard was all burned up and she had to go home.  I stayed with the fire until it was completely out.

I carried the trash basket through the back door.  Entering the kitchen I asked.  “How do you blow smoke rings?”  There was an uncanny stillness in the air for a bit before my dad said, “Why do you want to know?”  I said, “I had trouble making the smoke turn into rings like you do.”  You could feel the eerie tension.  “You had cigarettes?”  “Oh, No,” and I went on, “Cathy showed me how you can suck smoke through the cardboard holes, but we couldn’t make the rings.”

Well, the “uncanny stillness” and “eerie tension”, changed quickly to an intense feeling of fear, and hot embarrassment  with one, Earth shattering word from my dad, “WHAT!”  Tears began to sting my eyes, and my heart was pounding.

Mom joined in with, “You could have burned your throat, or worse, burned your lungs!”  Through the blur of sixty years I also remember other terse comments:  I trusted you!  You could have died!  I just can’t believe you did that!  You know no children are allowed near when you burn trash!

Needless to say, I didn’t get to burn trash for a long time, and Cathy wasn’t so bubbly the next time I saw her, because she thought, “I told on her.”  Of course, I never “smoked” cardboard again.  You know, I still would like to burn our trash, but the burn laws won’t allow it.  It would be good for my garden.

Written by kjskjp

September 28, 2010 at 12:56 am

Bee Sting

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Stinger of a honey bee 1 minute after a bee sting

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Getting stung is something you never forget.   One hot, late summer afternoon in about 1947 when I was five years old, it started to rain.  It was one of those warm, steady rains with no excitement like thunder or lightening.  I ran into the house and asked mom if I could play in the rain.  Next thing I remember is running up and down the street, in front of our house, in the water that was running along the curb.  The splashing was so much fun, and the rain felt wonderful dripping from my hair, and running down my back.

Just when life couldn’t be better, it happened.  Doesn’t it always?  A hot, sharp pain shot from my foot up my leg.  I sat on the curb and looked at the bottom of my foot.  I thought I had been cut with glass or a sharp rock in the street.  There was no blood, but the pain was killing me.  I ran screaming and crying into the house, and through sobs managed to tell my dad that my foot had been cut.  He checked both my feet, and said that there wasn’t anything wrong with me.  Then it hurt worse and my sobbing became uncontrollable.  After a little bit he told me to go out on the back porch and sit, because I was so loud that he and mom couldn’t even talk.

Life was bad before, but now it was the pits.  I was broken hearted, because I felt no one cared about me.  Blinking back tears I tried to see what was hurting my extremely painful foot.  I couldn’t see anything wrong with it either, so feeling very upset I cried in long loud wails.  It seemed as if it were an eternity that I spent crying, looking, then crying again.  Just when I thought I couldn’t stand the searing, hot pain anymore, my dad called me into the house.

He sat me up on the kitchen table, and questioned me.  Exactly where was I when my foot started hurting, and what was I doing?  I told him that I was splashing in the water that was running along the curb.  He looked at me puzzled and concerned.  He gently wiggled my ankle, wiggled my toes, and wiggled my foot, evidently looking for a broken bone.  Then he said to point to where it hurt the worst.  I did, and he looked carefully, and suddenly said to mom, “She’s been stung by a honey bee!  It must have been carried away in the rain water!”  He got a knife and scraped the stinger out, and said, “It hurt you bad, but it killed itself when it left its stinger.  So, he got the worst of it!”

Mom got some baking soda from the cupboard, and made a paste with water.   Then as she put it on my foot she said, “OH my, it is swelling already.”  The paste felt cool and made the pain a little better, and the tears quit falling.   The next morning my foot was red and quite swollen.  It took time for the sting to get better.  I couldn’t wear my shoe for more than a week.  However, the worst of the “sting” was cured quickly with love.

Written by kjskjp

September 21, 2010 at 12:56 am

1) A Little Bit of Nothing

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North Carolina Sunset

Image by discopalace via Flickr

Today is one of those lazy days of summer, even though it is September the 8th.  The temperature will be in the 90’s again today, and the land is dry and parched.  It has been hot in most all of the eastern states from the north to the south of the US since mid June.  In Ohio where many of the schools are not air conditioned the students and teachers have been melting in the temperatures of 80’s and 90’s.  I remember days like that, so, I am happy today that I am sitting here in my air conditioned North Carolina home.

The past three years since I retired have flown by.   I truly miss the satisfaction of seeing children learn to turn on their own self control, and to be able to accomplish a lot more than they thought was ever possible.  I miss most of all seeing the “light bulb” of finally understanding concepts shine brightly in my children’s eyes.  However, teaching was on my mind twenty four hours a day (My dreams were even about teaching.), and because of political pressures the stress level built more and more each year, especially for dedicated teachers.  So, I’m fortunate to be able to give my time to my family, who were sorely neglected, during those 28 years that I gave totally, the year around, to education.  HEY, there’s even a little bit of time left for me.  I got a manicure and a pedicure for the first time a few weeks ago!  AND here I am enjoying blogging.

First Story of the Forties

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Clothespin in place. Oregon, USA

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Kids were skinny, by today’s standards, in the forties.  It was no wonder.  Most of the time they got up at dawn, ate a bowl of cornflakes and milk, or oatmeal, and then they were sent outside to play, and the screen door was often hooked behind them.  “Don’t go any farther than my voice”, moms would say.  This meant “If I call you you had better come home promptly!”   Don’t go in anyone’s house, and STAY OUT OF TROUBLE.

We were pretty safe out there in the real world.  Many of the front porches were graced by little old ladies sitting in their porch swings, who would call your mother in a minute if they saw anything suspicious going on.  Some moms sat out there talking with neighbors, while working on a basket of mending.  And of course, on Monday everyone was hanging out laundry, or taking it down, folding it , and putting it in the big wicker laundry baskets.  OH yes, and there were those sneaky, nosy ones peeking out their windows from behind their curtains, watching our every move.  NOPE you couldn’t get away with much, if anything!  We knew who to stay away from, like Bugs Callahan, who looked up little girls dresses every chance he got, and Dink Pitts, who was drunk most of the time, and sat in his swing and sang while his dog, Buster, howled along with him.

So, we played, and played, and usually got along with each other.  The older kids made sure the younger ones were safe by watching out for them, and the younger kids respected the older kids.  It was expected of them.  And we knew everyone, and about everyone.  If someone new moved into the neighborhood, they were a curiosity, and were suspect until proven otherwise.  Parents sat on the newcomer’s front porch hours at a time “getting to know” them.

OH NO, things weren’t perfect.  When we were allowed “inside” for lunch often times it was a bowl of Campbell’s Chicken Soup, and a half a sandwich, because “That’s all there is,” or “That’s all you need.”  However, we ran and played ourselves skinny, and healthy.  It was glorious fun!

Written by kjskjp

August 30, 2010 at 5:11 pm

Posted in Forties

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