The Day The Green Eyed Monster Entered The Classroom

It was the perfect opportunity ... And just as it had planned, The Green Eyed Monster smiled ... slithered under Mrs. Smith's desk ... and waited.

It was the perfect opportunity … And just as it had planned, The Green Eyed Monster smiled … slithered under Mrs. Smith’s desk … and waited.

The day the Green Eyed Monster entered the classroom was the same day my mother, Shirley, made her first appearance as a Grade Mother.

I should clarify — right here and now — that Mom was one of four Grade Mothers for Mrs. Smith’s first grade class. The Green Eyed Monster was not.

In fact, no one seemed to notice that The Green Eyed Monster was a regular visitor at West Lenoir Elementary. The scoundrel was that good at lurking in the corners of the stairwell, underneath the desks, and below the seats outside on the merry-go-round.

On this particular Grade Mother Friday, the classroom buzzed with Grade Mother food rumors. The boys were especially excitable when it came to food. You could always hear their whispered discussions.

“Do ya think it might be tater chips?”

“Nah. Moms never bring chips. It’s gotta be — you know — made in the oven or something.”

I remembered how Becca’s mom showed up on the first Grade Mother Friday. For some reason, everything involving Becca always had to be first. I’d have bet she begged her mom to sign up first, even if it meant grabbing the sign-up sheet out of someone else’s hand. Her mother had made some kind of fancy fruit cup. Although my parents had raised me too polite to say so, I agreed with the boys … the only good part about the fruit cup was the cherry on top.

The next Friday Steven’s mom brought coconut squares. Not a big hit. They tasted awfully gooey. But we ate them anyway, like all obedient first graders in 1956.

The third Grade Mother Friday turned out pretty cool. Evelyn Swenson’s mother showed up with blue Jello, served on little white plates. She even supplied real spoons for every single kid. Jello was a huge favorite, especially among the boys (although they seemed to have more fun playing with it than eating it.)

That Jello Friday worried me. I was sure that no matter what mom was planning for our fourth Grade Mother Friday, it just wouldn’t be good enough to stand up to the Jello. As it turned out, I had no reason to worry about the food. Shirley Branch was the real surprise that day.

We had just returned from recess and were taking our seats when someone knocked on the door. Our teacher, Mrs. Smith, walked across the room (way too slowly, it seemed to me) and opened the door.

In walked my mom–my beautiful dark-haired, luscious-lipped young mom–with a huge tray of chocolate-icing-topped cupcakes. Her presence thrilled me beyond belief … not because of the cupcakes (which looked really good because, after all, they were chocolate) but because Shirley Branch was even prettier than Miss America (or at least I thought so.) And she was my mother.

There was a sort of electric charge in the air as mom walked across the room in her new red sweater. It was a sensation that reminded me of those times when we didn’t have quite enough work left to do before recess, and our teacher, Mrs. Smith, would have us “practice silence.”

She’d say, “Be so still that we can hear a pin drop.” Then she would literally drop a pin on the floor, and we’d all pretend we could hear it.

Yes. It was just like that. Plus, it was the first and only time I ever saw the boys sit still for more than five seconds.

On  exactly the 8th second, Sammy Benfield held his hands up in the air and nudged Melvin Lee with his elbow. Then, Sammy created a perfect coca-cola bottle shape in the air, and the two of them began to giggle. Before long all the boys were giggling. Giggling, and then, roaring with happy laughter. It was contagious laughter … the kind that swells up in your belly and tickles in your throat until it rushes out like a cannonball. (I had no idea why a bottle shape was funny, but I started laughing too.)

When the laughter had died down Mrs. Smith gestured toward my mother and said, “This is Mrs. Branch. She is your classmate, Debbie’s, mother.”

Stephen Craig — who sat opposite me on the third row — tapped my chair with his right foot, winked at me, and said, “Man, your mom sure is cool.”

Stephen had that same bug-eyed look on his face I’d seen on my teenage cousin, Sherrill, when he said that Brigitte Bardot was “built like a brick shit house.” (I didn’t have the slightest idea what that meant, but I instinctively understood that my cousin meant the brick house statement as a compliment, so I felt even prouder of mom.)

Then, Tommy Justice, who rarely said anything in class, said, “I ain’t never seen a mother like that!”

“How many times must I remind you, Tommy … there is no such word as ain’t,” said Mrs. Smith, creating another opportunity for the boys to laugh again.

My mom blushed a little and smiled at Mrs. Smith. Oh, and when Shirley Branch smiled with those pretty white teeth, you could see why her Senior Class had chosen her as “best looking.”  (Even if there were only nine students in the graduating class.) Mom had what you’d call Marilyn Monroe lips – full and perfectly formed, with just a slight bow at the top.

There was no denying it … my mother was a knock-out. In that split second she had unknowingly mesmerized the whole class.

It was the perfect opportunity …

And just as it had planned, The Green Eyed Monster smiled … slithered under Mrs. Smith’s desk … and waited.


~ to be continued in the next post ~

(Photo provided by  Fotolia. Skull image from The Public Domain. Final Altered image by Deb Trotter)


Raised On Love – My Blue Ridge Memoir

“Raised On Love. Dreaming of Lightning Bugs.”


(Photo provided by  Fotolia. Skull image from The Public Domain. Final Altered image © Deb Trotter)


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