You’re On Your Mom’s Naughty List This Year

, , , , , , , | Learning | December 25, 2019

(Every year, the Archdiocese my school is a part of puts on a “Keep Christ in Christmas” contest for anyone from 1st to 12th grade. For it, you can submit one of three things: a poster, a 250- to 300-word essay, or a piece of poetry. While the actual prompt is incredibly obvious, you can spin it in literally any direction you want. My high school is one of the only ones that actually makes all of its students do the contest for a grade each year; however, all of the religion teachers go through their submissions and only actually turn the best ones into the contest. It’s my last year doing this contest and I decide to write an essay on the Santa Lie and how commercialism is replacing the original meaning behind the holiday. I finish up and leave my hard copy on the counter so I don’t forget to bring it to school the next day. Unfortunately, my mom finds it and she barges into my room waving it in her hand.) 

Mom: “[My Full Name], what is this?!”

Me: “Uh, my ‘Keep Christ in Christmas’ essay?”

(She then goes on a rant about how terrible and cynical my essay is before reading it out to my dad, who ends up agreeing with her.)

Me: “It’s my last one, Mom. I honestly don’t care anymore.”

(After a bit more arguing, she begrudgingly lets me turn it in. Fast forward about two days.)

Mom: “I got the email that your essay was graded; what did you get?”

Me: “I got full points, 40 out of 40.”

Mom: “I don’t believe you. Show it to me now.”

(She isn’t very happy when I confirm my grade. The next day, I go to my religion class.)

Teacher: “All right, everyone, here are your ‘Keep Christ in Christmas’ submissions back.”

(He finally walks around to my desk.)

Teacher: “Oh, yeah, [My Name], I’m keeping yours to turn in to the Archdiocese. I really like angry screams against capitalism.”

(My mother was not at all happy. Unfortunately, I didn’t win.)

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Historically, You Shouldn’t Accept Challenges

, , , , | Learning | October 20, 2019

(It’s the first class of term and the lecturer is going over course requirements, end-of-term exam, etc. This is history, my favourite topic ever, and the lecturer and I know each other well from previous classes and are on very good terms. He is also lenient to a fault.)

Me: “So, those worksheets that are requirements. How many do we have to hand in?”

Lecturer: “If you hand in the majority, you’re fine.”

Me: “Right, and what do you mean by ‘majority’? Like, let’s say there’s ten; how many out of ten do we have to hand in?”

(I am expecting something like eight or nine.)

Lecturer: “Oh, let’s say… six out of ten.”

Me: *incredulous and mock-accusingly* “Seriously?! You are far too nice!”

Lecturer: “All right, you, and only you will have to hand in every single one!”

Me: *laughing* “Challenge accepted!”

(Later in the same class:)

Student: “Wait, there’s an exam? I thought it was a paper!”

Lecturer: “No, it’s definitely an exam, because I was very annoyed at having to make an exam.”

Everyone: *various noises of relief*

Me: “Am I the only one who would actually prefer a paper?”

Lecturer: “Yes. Yes, you are.”

Me: “Bummer.”

Lecturer: “All right, so, you alone will have to write a paper!”

(Later still. The question is how many languages were spoken in the British Isles during the early Middle Ages, c. 600 AD.)

Me: “Well, it really depends on what you define as ‘language.’”

Lecturer: “That’s two papers for you now!”

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School Is Not The Happiest Place On Earth

, , , , , | Learning | October 1, 2019

(When I’m in the fourth grade, my parents decide to take my sister and me to Disney World. They elect to do so in the fall to avoid the crowds and the blistering heat. I inform my teacher of this, and he hands me a huge packet of all of the work — not just homework, but classwork, too — that I will be missing while I am gone. However, being a naive nine-year-old, I don’t think much of it, as I’m going to be busy on vacation. My parents know about the packet, but even they assume it’s a “go over this as you’re able” sort of affair. My mom is a meticulous planner and has every day at the parks planned down to the minute, so I don’t really have time to do anything other than sleep when we get back to the hotel. I do get a couple of bits and bobs done, and when I return to school I hand these in to my teacher.)

Teacher: “Where’s the rest of it?”

Me: “Um… I was on vacation. I didn’t have time to do all of it, but I will get it finished now that I’m home. It should only take–”

Teacher: “No, you were supposed to have this done for me when you came back!”

Me: “What?! You never said that! I was on vacation!”

Teacher: “It’s your responsibility to get your work done on time! I am very disappointed in you!”

(I’m the kind of kid who is never in trouble, so I’m already near tears as this is the first time a teacher has ever reprimanded me.)

Me: “I– I’m sorry! I thought–”

Teacher: “I don’t care what you thought! You are staying in for recess for one week, and you will work on this packet then!”

(And that’s how I got punished for going on vacation at nine years old. For the record, I finished the packet after three days of no recess, but he still made me stay inside for the full week. I do realize that the fact he gave me a packet should have been a hint, but I’d love to see his reaction if someone told him he’d better be writing lesson plans while he’s at Disney World!)

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You Can’t Teach A New Dog Old Tricks

, , , , | Learning | August 28, 2019

(I’m thirteen. I get home from school, dump my book-bag on the hallway floor under the coat rack — as usual and like my dad has told me at least a dozen times not to — have a snack, and leave again for a friend’s house. Dad’s out running errands. When I get back for dinner, Dad tells me that, when he came home from his errands, he found that I hadn’t closed the door between the living room and the hallway properly, so our dog got into the hallway. Apparently, the dog decided the contents of my book-bag would make for good toys, specifically my French homework. It is almost completely destroyed. There are some shreds left, but I obviously can’t work with it anymore. Dad is laughing. I am halfway between annoyance and laughter until Dad pulls me over the edge by saying that tomorrow, I’ll have to tell the teacher my dog ate my homework. Realizing the stereotypical comedy excuse has come true for once is pretty funny. The next day, I bring the shredded remains of my homework to school, because no way is anyone going to believe me without proof. I’m also determined to have as much fun with this as I can, especially since my French teacher is an old sourpuss that nobody likes. When she goes around collecting the homework, I deliberately don’t have anything on my table and wait for her to ask me the inevitable.)

Teacher: “[My Name], where’s your homework?”

Me: *suppressing a grin* “Well, ma’am, you’re probably not going to believe me, but my dog ate my homework.”

Teacher: *looking decidedly not amused* “You’re right; I don’t believe you.”

(I pull the shredded remains of my homework out of my bag to show her.)

Me: “How about now?”

(The class starts sniggering, and the teacher looks at me like I just grew an extra head or something.)

Teacher: “Well… I suppose I’ll let it slide this time.” *sour again* “But I expect you to take better care of your homework in the future, [My Name].”

Me: “Of course, ma’am.”

(I did, by the way. I finally stopped dumping my bag on the hallway floor, to my dad’s delight. He joked afterward that maybe he should let the dog into my bedroom, so maybe I’d finally learn to clear that disaster zone, as well. I decided not to risk it.)

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At The End Of The Day, It’s All Semantics

, , , , , | Learning | August 23, 2019

While I was doing my bachelor’s in linguistics, I also took a Norwegian practical writing course. It aimed to teach an academic approach on how to write, critique, and understand various genres of text. I was in it to improve my article writing proficiency.

We usually worked in groups in this course, and one of the assignments was writing and critiquing poetry. Our teacher was a major experimental poetry nerd, so we wrote various more or less serious poems without structure as jokes, but every member of our group wrote poems. I figured we would be fine. 

Then came the day when we were to turn in our poems, and I found out that I was the only one in our group that had actually finished any poems that I was willing to turn in. I was too flustered to be angry, so I just went into problem-solving mode. I grabbed the poems I felt done with, and I was one short to complete the assignment. While the teacher was going around getting the poems for other groups I was frantically going through my rucksack to see if I had anything. I found a page from a Semantics paper I had done. For non-linguists, that’s word-math. It’s strange lambda transformations, arrows, and brackets. It was one simple sentence, “John kicks the ball,” written five or six times in increasingly more obfuscated ways with various symbols scribbled around. “F*** it,” I thought, added it to the pile, and turned it in.

The week after, we were going through our poems in class, and the lecturer was beaming. One of the poems was just fantastic! It had broken with all convention while using simple language and yet conveyed so much meaning, life, and action. It was one of the best poems she had seen and was written by one of us. And then she held up the page from my Semantics paper and wanted to know who the poet was.

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