a tale of terror

The title “Tales of Terror and ____” had apt occasion to flash through my mind earlier today.

This being a quasi-literary blog, it behooves me to note that “Tales of Terror and Mystery” refer to some adventures of the most famous detective of all time – being, of course, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s brilliant creation, Sherlock Holmes.

(Purely as a side note, I thoroughly recommend BBC’s rendition, “Sherlock.” Seasons 1 and 2 are currently available online at PBS, and Season 3 airs on PBS in America on the 19th. Hoorah! If you find yourself with some free time, you can watch some excellent episodes here. Again: HIGHLY recommended.)

Today being the day I had, it also seems fitting to note that “Tales of Terror and Hysteria” (or something along those lines) could equally refer to the mis-adventures of a little-known substitute teacher (who’s really an aspiring writer/searching visionary/hopeful romantic who’s between bigger adventures and making her current abode in her parents’ attic and other random nooks and crannies of their cold old farmhouse home) – being, of course, the Lord’s somewhat complicated, sometimes humorous, and for all that, well-loved beyond her desserts creation, myself.

Thank you for indulging me in that. It was – truly – quite a day; the first-graders I spent the majority of it with were really quite a handful, God bless ’em.

(Ahh, yes, a few details; part of the faux-literary approach and all that. Well, imagine lots  of little voices all talking. LOUDLY and incessantly talking. All at once. Crackers ground into the floor. Multiple complaints about the taste of said crackers. Repeated appeals on my part for students to clean-up tables followed by little to no resulting changes on their part. Multiple fruitless efforts by other teachers asking my students to behave for me and be respectful. Multiple similarly fruitless attempts by me to reiterate classroom expectations of respectfulness to each other, especially by not talking when someone else is trying to speak and listening to instructions. Tears. Lots of them. From lots of little students. Bickering. Little progress. NYS’s stupid core curriculum. I think I’ll do another post sometime on all that’s wrong with the public school system, although a comprehensive exploration on that question is quite out of my depth, I believe. Multiple pauses during read-aloud story-time to wait for everyone to be quiet enough for me to go on reading; repeated nudging and telling others to get out of the way so that the pictures could be seen – that is, the students telling-off each other. Multiple “injuries” and “I don’t feel good’s”. Wow. Slightly surprised I didn’t end up crying myself.)

While we’re on this topic, allow me to make another (albeit stretched) literary connection by drawing on other recent negative substituting experiences of mine to provide a blow against cliches – in particular, against the utterly foolish words, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can/will never hurt me.” p-SHAW. A middle-schooler told me a few weeks ago that it looked like I had a black eye (which I didn’t); another, that one of their peers had asked if I was Amish. At a different, not-so-distant point in my life, I may have considered such a comment as a, err, somewhat compliment. Maybe. Under the right circumstances. Those weren’t it. And even though my own middle-school experience is removed by nearly a decade now (thank goodness), those comments…yeah, kinda hurt. Stung a bit, you might say. Which just goes to show you that, no matter how old you get, unkind words can always find their mark. (Not that I’m that old, yet. And don’t they make a big deal out of promoting the use of kind words in elementary schools these days?? Let me tell you, the evidence of such promotion seems somewhat lacking, however.) At any rate, all this upholds a great principle of communication: Avoid cliches like the plague. Ha.

Alright, I’ll hop off my soap box now. Again, thanks for indulging me. I suppose online rants of this kind are part of the reason why Facebook can be so obnoxious…which I am currently not using…and so, I guess my own rant today got relegated to here. Whoops. So sorry. But – perhaps – it gave you just a chuckle or two? I hope so. That would be a bit redeeming. 🙂

One last note: I feel I should confess that I have not yet read “Tales of Terror and Mystery” – the Sherlock version, that is. (I have read copious amounts of other Sherlock tales, though.) It’s on the list.

(Ester, you asked if I ever blogged about my subbing experiences…I guess this one’s for you! And for my grandma and my mom, who I’m sure will be sympathetic…and then rapidly urge me to “Well, get over it, let it go, and get on with things!” As they should. 🙂 “It’s only for a season, remember, Bek.” As it is. As it, indeed, is. Thank goodness!)

Last last note: Not all of my subbing experiences are as bad as today’s; some are actually quite good! But today’s took the crown in the “Tales of Terror, etc.” of subbing, for me, to date. [Haha, I once read in a writer’s workshop book a prompt for a creative story gleaned from a newspaper headline about a substitute teaching attacking their class with a broom; don’t worry, that wasn’t me. Not even close.] And tomorrow’s a new day.



  1. Oh Bekah, I didn’t quite chuckle but certainly smiled to myself as I read this…because I can completely imagine what this particular day was like! I am proud of you for making it through it, I don’t know if I would ever want to spend a year teaching first graders for all the complications you depicted for us. 🙂
    You have been on my mind the past several days, I miss seeing you around and sharing some good laughs. I am wondering about those bigger adventures- did you get the job at the camp? Very curious.
    I have greatly enjoyed reading several of your post this evening- I think you are a gifted writer. Oh, and thanks for the Sherlock Holmes update!


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