Sunday, February 15, 2015

Kelly, sand plants and crime ecstasy.

In 4th grade I had this friend I’ll call Kelly. Her mom was an artist and made sand art in glass containers. The mom would donated plants potted in her artwork to raffle as school fundraisers. I thought the art was amazing and I would buy colored sand at the fish store and make my own lopsided pieces, which me and my sister called sand plants. My sand plants were pretty cool, but not as great as Kelly’s mom’s.

One day Kelly brought in some plants to be raffled and our teacher, Mrs. Ryan, one of my favorite teachers ever, asked me to be Kelly’s helper. So at lunch break each day that week, Kelly and I would leave class early and set up a table where we would eat our lunch and sell raffle tickets.  Then when the bell to line up for class rang,  we would go straight to our classroom, getting there before everyone else, so we could put the plant away safe before all the other kids came tumbling in.

I had always be a dedicated conscientious student, doing all my work and trying hard to do it all correctly. I never copied or cheated. Well, the very first day we got back to the classroom early Kelly ran over to the teacher’s desk and grabbed a book and told me to get my math workbook while she gathered hers. Furiously she turned the pages of the teacher’s book until she got to the page she was looking for and began copying all of the answers from the key onto the pages of her math workbook. She explained to me how we had to finish fast, before we heard the kids coming back to the room.

I joined right in, understanding that I would not have to spend time multiplying double and triple digits that night. We finished a page or two and stuck the book back in place before the teacher and the class returned. Mrs. Ryan gave us compliments for working the raffle instead of playing at lunch break.

The next day and everyday that week we did the same thing, racing back to class to copy as much a possible, laughing hysterically and thrilling in the adrenaline rush of getting away with something we were not supposed to do, a feeling I later heard my friend Amber describe perfectly as “crime ecstasy”. We copied enough answers to last for weeks, and for those fantastic weeks, I did not have to carry a heavy math book home and I could watch extra TV.  This was great!

Then one day Mrs. Ryan asked us to open our math workbooks to the next page and she saw that mine was already done. She was confused and checked her notes and saw that other kids had blank pages where mine were filled out. I looked at her and lied and said that I had done extra work. I feared that she might look and see that there were several more pages completed. But she did not. Instead she gave me a work sheet to do while everyone else did those pages. Having to do that work sheet felt like such a drag. I had to do extra math, my punishment for the otherwise perfect crime.

Kelly wound up moving away that year. Eventually I had to go back to doing homework again, but it was sweet while it lasted.

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