It was a long time before I confessed to my mother that I used to steal Blow Pops from my first-grade teacher, Ms. Glandon. I sometimes wonder if Ms. Glandon knew, but was too occupied apprehending boys who took their shoes off in class to deal with my thievery. (You do, after all, see more signs requiring shirts and shoes than those warning customers not to steal bubble gum-filled lollipops.)
Ms. Glandon wasn’t my favorite teacher. She once made me put a “W” by my name in the grade book for taking too long to answer her question in class — it wasn’t because I didn’t know it; I was just that shy — and another time gave me the “W” (meaning “warning”) for writing my name in pencil on the bathroom door. I don’t remember which girl tattled on me, but I was P.O.’d. It was pencil, and I even erased it.
Maybe that’s why I resorted to taking treats out of her bottom file cabinet. I knew where the Blow Pops were because every week, she would open the drawer and pull out a handful for the lucky kids who spelled the bonus word right. The bonus word was always bigger than our regular spelling words, but lucky for me, I was a good speller. (I briefly wanted to be a meteorologist because I could spell it and because I liked putting the laminated, velcroed sun on the felt board during weather time.)
Eventually, I found that a weekly Blow Pop was not as satisfying as a daily one, so I devised a plan. I waited until Ms. Glandon got the last of the bus riders in line, then hid behind the long counter at the front of the classroom ’til she filed them out and turned off the light. Then I snuck into the drawer and picked out a watermelon Blow Pop. (Warning: If you’re a teacher, be sure you lock up your valuables, especially around those who get a “W” in the grade book.)
Sometimes, the drawer would be locked, but usually not. Typically, the only thing that kept me from taking one was if she was out of watermelon and grape. I wasn’t about to waste my time on sour apple. When Mom started to ask where I was getting all the Blow Pops, though, I figured I should scale back.
That wasn’t, however, the end of my mischief in Ms. Glandon’s class. I also remember one spelling test where she asked us to spell January. Well, being my birth month and loving my birthday, I knew good and well how to spell it, but I also knew that there was a piece of paper taped to all of our desks with each month written on it so we could write the date properly. Unfortunately, we all had a cardboard shade on our desks, the kind with three sides so no one could see our answers, kind of like a voting booth. I waited until no one was looking, then slid the cardboard forward so I could see the piece of paper. Yes, I spelled it right! (Like I didn’t know.) …
In third grade, I’d moved from robbery and cheating to denial. I remember having an eye exam that year with all the other kids in school, and the optometrist told me I might need glasses. (Sorry, Mom, I never told you this. I feel it’s safe now that I’m out of the house.) I thought my vision was fine and didn’t want stupid ol’ glasses, so I kept it a secret between me and God.
“All right, God, you don’t force me to get glasses, and I’ll repent of all those Blow Pops I took. Besides, I like Tootsie Pops better now. … Thanks for creating Tootsie Pops. Amen.”
(I eventually had to get glasses anyway and spent my freshman year begging for contacts.)
By fourth grade, I’d met a girl named Lindsay. I was jealous of her long, blond hair, so one day I took the purple rabbit’s foot off her backpack at the cubbies and put it in my JanSport. I mean, that’s the logical reaction, right? (Side thought: Who decided to cut off the feet of small animals and dye them various colors to make key chains that would adorn children’s school items?) I actually felt bad for that one because she was nice. I think I gave the rabbit’s foot to Emily.
After that, I think I mellowed out, or maybe that’s the year we focused on the 10 Commandments in Sunday school.