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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Honor Hole

In my neighborhood, there are a lot of proud parents who stick to the back windows of their SUV  these pennants that read, “My child made the honor roll at Brand X High,” or whatever school. Most of these people put these tapered stickers in a circle to show the world that their kid is really racking up the frequent honor roll points, meaning that, when s/he graduates, it could possibly lead to an internship at Checkers.

I’ll admit I was a frequent  honor roll student. Back then however, the honor roll limbo stick was set so high, it didn’t take any effort to pass under it. Pretty much if you showed up to class sober, unlike so many of the teachers didn’t, and completed the better part of your homework, you made the honor roll. There was no celebration, and there were no sticky pennants. The last thing we wanted was our parents to do was to let the neighborhood know they had a dork for a child.

Today they even have also-ran stickers that you can buy (there is no room for second place in our educational system) that read something pitifully sad like “I’m the proud parent of a terrific kid.” Let’s get this straight. Unless you are a child abusing parent, it goes without saying that you think your kid is terrific, and you are proud of them even if they do spend four hours a day with a rock, trying to pound a square peg though a round hole.  “He’s a non-conformist. He thinks outside the box,” you say. “That’s the stock where great business executives come from.”

Well, you’re probably right about that. It would explain a lot about the places I’ve worked.

I’d like to see some more creative and true bumper stickers. “My daughter dropped out of high school, has a $3M stock portfolio and a full tuition to MIT for a popular 99-cent iPhone app she wrote in three days.”

“My son is 27, drives a Maserati and is retired because of the revenue he earned selling your honor roll student ecstasy and meth for just 3 years.

Oh, all right, if the truth be known, there was one semester I did fall off the honor roll wagon. We got two grades for every class: an academic grade and a conduct grade. There was one semester I got all A’s in all classes academically and in conduct with the exception of one conduct grade, in which I received a “D”.

Really? A “D”? In my whole academic career I had never, nor would ever again receive a “D”, conduct or otherwise. The teacher had never taken me aside and warned me that if I didn’t behave myself I was headed for a bad conduct grade, and I didn’t act any differently in that class than I did in any other.  I went up to this so-called teacher the day after the report cards came out and asked him if there hadn’t been some kind of computer error. He looked down at the sea of A’s for that semester and arrogantly said, “Oh no, there’s no error. Talking. Too much talking.”

I was outraged! Anyone in that school who knew me knew I was not a talker. I would write until my hand turned black. But I was the quiet, shy, keep-to-myself kind of guy I was the eat-lunch-by-himself-friend-of-few boy. So thank God they didn’t give out bumper sticker pennants back then. My mother would have been driving around with one that said, “My child got a D in conduct at Wilson Junior High School.” How humiliating.

Other Bill reports that in Maryland schools they did not have conduct grades. “God,” he told me once. “Grades for behavior? That is so Southern.”

These days some people in their big SUV’s form giant crop circles on their back windows with these look-at-me-my-child-is-smart annoying displays of pride.  Personally, if you have multiple smartypants children, these circles can block your rear view and be a driving hazard. So I want to do a few ride-alongs with some cops at work and have them pull these safety hazard stickers off their cars and give them to me.

I will re-adhere them to a large cardboard cutout of the letter “D”, and when it is covered, front and back with these stickers, I will anonymously mail it to a Mr. William Bush, my American History teacher from Wilson Junior High, the only teacher who ever
arbitrarily gave me a D.

He won’t have a clue what it means. But I’ll feel vindicated.

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