gregor mendel who

Today I was thinking how it can be rough on siblings that attend the same school with the same teachers. The oldest sibling sets the stage in a way. For whatever reason, teachers seem to think that students produced by the same parents will act similarly. [Yet I cannot help but think they must see so many examples where that is not the case, I wonder why they still do it.]

If your older sibling is a star, much is expected of you. If your sister got straight A’s, then you will too. If your brother was the quarterback that took the team to the playoffs for the first time in decades, then no one doubts that are a great football player. And of course, if he or she is not (a star), then good luck trying to prove you are otherwise. No one said life is fair.

In our case, because we changed schools so often, and then attended different schools altogether, I think the only time where my sister had the same teacher after me was kindergarten. [On a side note, I think my aunt and possibly my father may also had had Mrs. Dinley as a teacher – my father often called her Mrs. Ding-a-Ling.] And as luck would have it, I did manage to have the same teacher after my sister did. It can happen, and did when I was in the fifth grade.

It would seem that Sister Deborah (my sister’s third grade teacher) decided to move to the fifth grade. I had had two run-ins with Sister Deborah prior to that. The first was at the Christmas pageant; the second was during Lent. [Another side note: one thing I liked about Sister Deborah was that she told it like it was. She called the people who only showed up for mass on Christmas and Easter, Christmas trees and Easter eggs. And she really hoped none of us would become one.]

At the rehearsal for the Christmas program (where I played a German girl in the fourth grade’s presentation of Christmas Celebrations Around the World), someone noticed that I could carry my voice to the back of the hall without the aid of a microphone. It was instantly decided (without my two cents) that I was to be made the announcer of the entire program.

Apparently Sister Deborah did not get the memo, and so when she saw me at the podium as her third grade class strolled onto the stage in preparation to sing a medley of seasonal tunes, she scolded me. She wanted to know what I was doing up there. I was already anxious, and this wasn’t helping. But somehow I managed to get out the words, without being too impolite, that I was the announcer and belonged here. [My Mom caught the interaction on camera, of course having no idea what was transpiring.]

Then at Lent, the school decided that once a week each class would attend the eight o’clock mass prior to the start of school. There was a set rotation. It wasn’t mandatory, in that they couldn’t force our parents to get us to school a half hour earlier, but if you did arrive early, it was expected that you walk across the street to the church and attend mass with your class.

My sister and I got a ride to school from our neighbor in exchange for babysitting. We usually arrived with about 5 minutes to spare before the bell rang. On the day in question, we arrived just as the bell rang. So did one of my classmates.

Given that the bell had rung, we both decided we should head to our classroom. We didn’t know if mass had let out, and feared being late. We were like trained little mice – bell  rings, you go to class. Not so fast, said Sister Deborah as she saw us heading down the walkway.

She stopped the two of us dead in our tracks and made us go into her classroom as punishment. Of course our teacher and class were directly behind us as this happened. The whole thing was beyond ridiculous, but it seemed Sister Deborah had her habit in a knot over students skipping out on mass. She told our teacher, Sister Pauline, we would be returned after the rosary.

Now here is where it really got fun. Apparently neither me or my fellow classmate had learned to say the rosary from the beginning. We just started with an Our Father, did the 10 Hail Marys, followed by the Glory Be. For not knowing to start with the Apostle’s Creed, we got to write it out ten times before returning to class. Did I mention my sister was somewhere in this room witnessing everything (and I am sure, loving every moment)? My poor fellow classmate was nearly in tears by the time we were released. I was beet red.

Needless to say, fifth grade was far from my favorite year, although I don’t have many memories of it. The only one that really sticks out is that we had to make a heart mobile with paper and a hanger and string as a Valentine’s Day art project. For whatever reason, mine just would not cooperate. I remember asking for help, but at that point, Sister Deborah said I was hopeless, and sent me back to my desk.

That is the year though that I got 49/50 on the grammar test (can you believe I missed the final question). But it was also the first time I didn’t have a teacher eating out of my hand. It was okay, sixth grade showed me once and for all that being teacher’s pet is not all that it cracked up to be.

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