My First School Paddling

Photo by Nicola Tolin on Unsplash

JOSHUA, TX, 1980:

Amber (not her real name) sat next to me in Mrs. Yonner’s first grade class. I did not like Amber. She was stinky and sneaky, and she stole little things—pencils and such—from her classmates.

One weekend, my dad took me fishing at the Nolan River in Cleburne. I got bored with fishing and began exploring the banks of the river. Not far from our spot, and partially buried, were several large, old bones—probably from a cow. I happily collected the bones and took them home.

On show and tell day, I brought my bones to school where I proudly presented them. Of all students, Amber was the most interested and asked repeatedly to look at them.

Later in the day, when we returned from recess, I looked in my desk for my bones. They were gone. I was furious. Surely the teacher would be, too. This was a class emergency.

Amber, though, was casual about the missing bones. I knew, without a doubt, that she was who stole them. (I now think it unlikely.)

My teacher did not elevate the matter to the appropriate extent, in my humble, first grade opinion. It was up to me to administer justice.

Amber got out of her seat to sharpen her pencil, or blow her nose, or perform some other Amber task. When she returned, as she sat down, I pulled her seat back causing her to plant her rumpus on the floor.

Amber cried, and I immediately felt bad and said I was sorry. But it was time for Mrs. Yonner to administer justice. We stepped in the hall with her wooden paddle which, in those days, all teachers had.

Mrs. Anderson from across the hall came to witness the event. Our unhappy trio went into the vestibule (I had to look this word up to use it here), where trouble making primary students met their fate.

An eye for an eye and a rump for a rump. I received two swats, and I cried as bad little boys do. Not from the pain (spankings from female teachers never hurt), but from shame.

Because my behavior was consistently poor, Mrs. Yonner’s habit was to walk me out to my mother every day after school and give a report. She always delivered the message using “we” instead of “he” as in, “We were not very good today,” or “We tried, but could not quit talking,” or, “We had to get our ass busted today.”

I found it unjust that my teacher and mother conspired against me. On this day, I especially thought it wrong that I would be in more trouble after what I’d already gone through. But I can still remember mama saying, “Just wait till your daddy finds out.”

We had to go to the laundry mat right after school, and I didn’t even get to play in the carts. Instead, I had to sit in the hard plastic 1970’s yellow laundry mat chairs and “think about what I’d done.”

I can’t remember if Daddy spanked me again or not, but I do know that I was nice to Amber for the rest of the year.

About Nowhere Tribune

A husband and daddy, striving to love his neighbors and be kind to his pets. I love good food, good beer, and a few good friends. My other interests are hiking, taking walks, lifting weights, reading books by manly authors like Hemingway and Twain, and splitting fire wood with my bare hands.


17 thoughts on “My First School Paddling

  1. Did you ever find the bones?

    Posted by Michelle Le G | April 13, 2019, 11:37 am
  2. But.. but… the bones.
    Don’t leave us hanging!

    Posted by rivergirl1211 | April 13, 2019, 11:44 am
  3. I knew a few first graders who could have benefited from a daily report and a couple paddlings. Looks like it straightened you out!

    If I included having to look up words every time I had to look up words, it’d be impossible to get through one of my posts. (I just had to look up how to spell “benefited”)

    Posted by Shayne | April 13, 2019, 12:33 pm
  4. Mother and teacher conspiring is always bad news. You have to learn to be real sneaky, or else just behave yourself. Sneaky can be more fun, though.

    Posted by Tippy Gnu | April 13, 2019, 3:11 pm
  5. Not a fan of teachers paddling 1st graders. But what do I know?

    Posted by pkadams | April 13, 2019, 6:06 pm
  6. Um….you brought cow bones to school? So that would never happen where I come from, not in a million years! 🤠

    Posted by Middle Aged Momma | May 4, 2019, 4:28 pm


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