Friday, August 01, 2008

Friday's Story: Fourth Grade Firebrand

Did you think the trash-talk, self-righteousness, and argumentative streak were personality traits of a recent vintage? Indeed, no, they are not. Which is why today I’m telling three tales of preteen protest. (I blame the Potato of Injustice.)

It all began in fourth grade, when my political consciousness was awakened by the gifted program’s annual Thanksgiving sock puppet play. The teacher asked us to decorate our socks as Pilgrims and Indians. Only, she designated the brand new socks as Pilgrims, and the older, grayer socks as Indians. Nobody gets away with calling my daddy a dirty sock! So I calmly expressed my displeasure at the obvious racist qualities of using her husband’s gross old socks to represent an entire segment of humanity. Or, really, I shrieked my disapproval and boycotted the play.

The political situation at Casita Elementary settled down. The Holiday Spectacular was a huge success, as we performed both “Silent Night” and “The Dreidel Song.” (I’m not sure Kwanzaa had been invented yet, or if they just didn’t know any Kwanzaa carols. I bet “Have Yourself a Merry Little Day of Collective Work and Responsibility” would be pretty catchy.)

And then it was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. We drew peace symbols, talked about the civil rights movement, and learned all about the life of the Reverend King. At the end of the day, the teacher asked us to stand up one by one and explain what we’d learned. My turn:

“Martin Luther King was a black man who thought everyone should be equal. So they shot him.”

The teacher flipped. The principal flipped. My parents were called, and my mom flipped. Well, she kind of flipped, but mostly she tried not to laugh. My dad pointed out that what I said was factually true. Then he proceeded to tell this story at every gathering for the next 24 years. I wound up not having to go to detention.

After the fourth grade, the Stameys moved from California to Virginia, and things stayed quiet until I entered the sixth grade. Our school, Parkside Middle, decided to institute a bunch of insanely picky disciplinary rules (like, “No Fun, Ever”). So the Famous Skye and I decided to do something about it.

We took white t-shirts, puffy fabric paints, markers, and a genius slogan of Skye’s invention. We snuck the shirts into our bags, rode the bus to school, and changed into them in the girls’ washroom.

The teachers shrieked, and I found myself in a bit of hot water. That “hot water” being, of course, detention. This time, there was no parental rescue, and precious little parental amusement. Why? Well, it just might have been the slogan:

“Parkside Prison: Don’t Touch Me, the Guards Will Shoot.”

Sure, it's no "Donna Martin Graduates," but it IS pretty darn catchy.

22 comments:

brandonsavage said...

Ah the loveliness of elementary school...

Our district implemented an assigned seating procedure on the school bus ride home every day, and I started a petition against it. Got almost 500 signatures (about half the school) and a trip to the principal's office for "correction.

Snappy slogan, though. Did anyone else follow your example?

Shannon said...

Brandon - the bulk of the protesters wore "Parkside Pennitentiary" shirts. But nobody had a slogan as awesome as Skye's.

Which reminds me...Skye, did you get detention or did you get off scot-free?

freckledk said...

I love your MLK comment. It serves as a reminder that children are incapable of bullshitting and sugarcoating.

HP said...

in the 8th grade a made a life-long enemy in my homeroom teacher when I refused to recite the pledge of allegiance on account of it's citation of God. I got sent to the office and had to have a chat with the Dean of Students who clearly thought the whole thing was a waste of time. My former 60's activist mom had never been so proud. She still tells that story.

Shannon said...

Frecks - My dad loves that story too, and tells it at EVERY OPPORTUNITY. (Hi, Dad!)

HP - that's awesome - it took me until 10th grade to protest the "Under God" bit, and until senior year to protest indoctrination and mind control.

Lemmonex said...

I got in trouble for saying boobs in 2nd grade. That's what my mom called them!

Justin said...

I'd like to know what their logic behind potential detention (in regards to the MLK thing) was...

Not that I think logic was really involved or anything.

Awesome shirt.

Shannon said...

Lemmonex - of COURSE you got in trouble. They're properly known as "jugs."

Justin - I was being highly controversial. And sometimes I wish I still had that shirt.

Capitol Hill 20210 said...

thats hilarious - I got in school suspension for wearing "Party Naked" to school in 8th grade and I would do it again

Kevin said...

I used to make it a point to wear my Steve Dallas t to school at least once a week. On it, Steve had a martini, with olive, in his hand and a smoke dangling from the corner of his mouth.

I'm pretty sure that shirt would get a kid expelled today.

And Shannon, they're only jugs if they're Cs or bigger.

Lemmonex said...

Dude, then I have super jugs.

Feeling feisty today.

Capitol Hill 20210 said...

lemm - no kidding me too

Shannon said...

Zip - I ALWAYS party naked. I blog naked, too!

Kevin/Lemmonex/Zip, I don't have jugs, then. I have teacups.

Capitol Hill 20210 said...

ha t-shirt idea - BLOG NAKED
I will gladly trade these girls in for your teacups.

Shannon said...

Zip - They're WOMEN, not girls. Don't forget to be a mammary feminist!

I dream of the day we get all the way to the bottom of a comment thread without discussing boobs or pubes.

Capitol Hill 20210 said...

hahaha ok what if I call them Betty and Wilma? who started the whole boob talking mess anyway? Again I am innocent in all this.

Skye said...

I can't remember if I got detention or not. We did get a bit of press coverage the next day in the local paper -- I called a reporter on the pay phone to tell them what was going on.

Even back then, I knew: spin, baby, spin!

Shannon said...

Zip - This time, the thread was skanked up by our lovely Lemmonex. Maybe I oughta sell some t-shirts: "I Skanked Shannon's Thread."

Skye - no wonder you wound up in PR for a while there! And I bet you got off scot-free, whereas I never got away with ANYTHING.

Zipcode said...

haha - or I manscaped Shannon's Thread

Shannon said...

Zipcode - at teh very least, we ought to have a Threadskanker Award. So, Lemmonex, you're today's Threadskanker! Congrats.

Lemmonex said...

What an award! I would like to thank my mother, who didn't teach me any manners. And my father, who didn't pay enough attention to me, causing me to act out. lastly, everyone who has ever laughed at me, encouraging my naughty behavior...

Shannon said...

***cues swelling orchestral music to hustle Lemmonex off the stage***