Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tales From Mrs. Loose's Room ~The Bad Luck Magnet

His name was Geoff. Not Jeff. Nothing normal about this kid! To start with, he had just turned six and was a head taller than any other child in my classroom. Secondly, he had the biggest, bluest eyes that would melt your heart. Geoffrey was very intelligent as well. No work I could throw at him was too hard and he seemed to be a walking Encyclopedia Britannica (for all of you youngsters out there, this was the 80's and we still stored all of our knowledge in actual books with pages!). He could carry on a very mature conversation and his show and tells were always educational. He was a kind, good boy and I liked him very much.

There was just one flaw in this kid as far as I could see...he attracted bad luck like a magnet, an electron magnet! He was always getting hurt on the playground. My recess breaks were often interrupted by concerned little girls rushing into the faculty lounge to tell me that Geoff had fallen and skinned his knee (little girls loved Geoff's eyes too). Once we even had to call in his mother because he fell of of the monkey bars and hit his head. He had a huge goose egg the likes of which tend to make me woozy. I remember, Mrs. 'B' coming into the office and exclaiming, "Oh Geoffrey! What am I going to do with you?!" There were numerous cuts and bruises over the months and one gash in his head as well.

It was December of 1986 and the first graders at Grovecrest Elementary had been preparing for weeks to sing Christmas songs at the University Mall. Schools from all over Utah Valley sent little choirs of angels to sing on risers outside of the JCPenney store to entertain holiday shoppers throughout the season. (This area of the Mall is now the entrance to the new section housing Nordstrom's and is right in front of Victoria's Secret...gasp!). Miss Erickson, one of my team of teachers, was a part-time professional singer and talked to the children the day before the performance about all of the usual things involved in putting on a good show. She reminded them to smile big and sing out in their best first grade voices. The final bit of advice proved to be the most important. "The risers at the mall do not have any railings on the back of the top level. If you end up standing there you must very very careful not to fall! Also...listen to me carefully...whatever you do, do NOT lock your knees!" She then demonstrated what that meant and told them horror stories of children who did so and fainted, in front of God, their mothers, and everybody!! I know! You can see it coming can't you? Geoff was the tallest first grader in history so which row did he end up on? The top, of course! You got it! You're so smart! (Sorry, that was a little bit of "teacher talk" coming out!)

One should always anticipate the worst possible scenario when dealing with 150 five & six year olds in one group. Hence, we assigned several chaperon mothers to stand behind the risers and watch the kids up top supposing one might stumble or lose balance. We were singing along beautifully to a crowd of parents who had dutifully come to hear us (a clever Mall ploy to get folks in to shop I'd wager). We had wowed them with "All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth", "Holly, Jolly Christmas", and were nearly done with our show when I heard a large gasp from the crowd. I looked over the choir just in time to see my Geoff crumpling! I ran to the back of the risers while the show went on to see him passed out cold in the arms of a frightened mother! Thank the angels who watch over these kids while they are away from home!! Geoff was out for about 10 seconds and woke up to his mother, grandmother, me,four other teachers, and 149 kids all staring at him! "What happened?" he asked. I wanted to say "Oh nothing out of the ordinary for you sweetie!" but I was very professional, sent him home with his mother, and filed an accident report back at school.

Was that the worst thing that could happen to Geoff that school year? Oh no! In the springtime I was a very pregnant Mrs. Loose. (How about that? Diana came to school with me nearly every day that year!) On Monday afternoons we had a regularly scheduled ritual of watching "Reading Rainbow". This required me going to the media center to get the TV/VCR on the tall cart and wheeling it down to my room during lunch. After lunch came story time and then I would send them all to their seats to get settled while I wheeled the cart to the front of the room. Remember when televisions were big and square, weighing maybe 100 lbs. or more? The one on the cart was a 32" 1980's beauty! As I wheeled it along the side of the room I heard a funny noise and felt the cart start to tilt. The children nearest to me gasped all together and then the rest happened in slow motion. The rear wheel nearest the children's desks had collapsed and the cart was tipping. What does a teacher do without thinking? She puts herself between danger and the kids! I threw my 7 1/2 month pregnant body in front of the TV, placing my hands on the screen trying to slow it's fall while I yelled, (you guessed it) "dive Geoff, dive!" All in the same moment I had to release the TV and let it fall while Geoff hit the dirt under his desk. When the dust settled his head popped up and he said, "I'm OK Mrs. Loose, I'm OK!"

"Office. How may I help you Mrs. Loose?" the secreatary answered after I pushed what I lovingly called my Panic Button. I gave a quick explanation and a plea for help. No one on staff was surprised at the fact that the TV fell onto Geoff's desk. They all knew...

I was fussed over but no contractions came. Geoff was looked over head to toe. Nobody would believe he was unharmed. Disaster narrowly escaped!

I often think about this boy and now that he would be about 29 years old I wonder what kind of life he has and if his "magnetic talents" still apply. For his wife's sake I hope not!


Sarah said...

Cute story Mom- it definitely made me laugh! Love you!

p.s. Just because Geoff is 29 does not mean he is married- there are other 29 year olds out there -ahem- who are not married . . . oh, who am I kidding? He probably is married, just like practically every one else but me! :)

Niki {A*Lovely*Lifestyle} said...

how cute!

your story...and the fact that you were a teacher.

i wanted to be a teacher for a while. to first graders as well, in fact.

i took my first education coarse in college and decided it wasn't for me.

i bet you were a great teacher to geoff. i'm sure he still remembers you.

URFAVE5 said...

I loved the story! I love all your school and love stories. You are a great story teller!
Love Ya, JoLynn

Gena said...

I remember this one! You inspire me to share some of my stories.

ps. Thank you for taking care of my Michael. Yes, he's communicating with me. I love knowing he's being a help around the house!

Jason said...

What a strange happenstance! I was thinking about my past teachers at Grovecrest and I stumbled upon your blog. My name is Jason Gillman and you were my first grade teacher. I was in your 1983-84 class (I think!)I am fairly certain it was pretty early in your career but I remember you vividly. I hope you are well.

Kenny said...

I'm wondering if you were my first grade teacher based on the story. I would have been something like 1986. Ant farm in my desk, fell asleep in the cubby, always sat on the front row by the teachers desk... Remember a Kenny Adams?