Two quick vignettes that still stick with me. My mother never paddled me, but to be paddled by a teacher within earshot of the students was one of the most humiliating experiences of my life. The difference from one teacher to the next was like night and day, literally, for me.
Jake looked at the girl with red hair who sat in the desk next to him and sighed. For a moment, he imagined kissing her like he had seen his stepfather kiss his mother.
“Jake Hull! Pay attention!”
Jake started and looked at the blackboard. His teacher, Mrs. Zwerblia, stood with a ruler in one hand and a sour look on her face. She came up to him and slapped her ruler against his desk.
“You will pay attention in my class!” She turned back to the math problem on the blackboard. “Tell me the answer to this problem!”
Jake looked at the board. The numbers appeared blurry and he squinted. “Five?”
“That's right. Very good. Lorrie, please answer the second problem.”
Lorrie's eyes twinkled as she talked and Jake found himself enamored again. He felt a hand jerk his arm and let out a yelp. Mrs. Zwerblia dragged him by the arm to the coat room, stooping in mid-stride to pick up a paddle.
She stopped, pulled down Jake's pants, bent hover despite his protestations and then walloped him repeatedly on the rear. “You will pay attention to me!”
Jake cried with every pounding and after it was done his bottom was sore. He pulled up his pants and walked into the classroom with his head down. He could hear the other kids whispering, but no one dared talk out loud. He sat at his desk and could not bring himself to look at Lorrie.
He held his tears back until he was home.
Jake was in his room, doing his homework when his mother came in.
“Jake, I want you to know that I don't like what that teacher did to you. I've arranged with the school to move you to a different classroom, a new teacher.”
Jake looked up at her and smiled. “Thanks, Mom!”
He entered his new classroom the next day feeling so much better. The woman behind the desk looked familiar.
“Hi Jake,” said Mrs. White. “Nice to have a neighbor for a student!”
“That's right,” said Jake. “You live across the street, where that big statue of Paul Bunyan sits!”
Mrs. White laughed. “Yeah, I keep bugging my husband to get that out of the back yard. So I hear you're a pretty imaginative guy, right?”
Jake shrugged. “I guess.”
“Well, we're working on short stories, and I can't wait to hear yours!”
Jake smiled. “I'll start working on it!”
Jake sat in his new desk and let out a satisfied sigh.