Monday, January 9, 2012

Brown Shoes

As a former teacher herself, Mom had very little use for most of the teachers I had in grade school. And she had less use for the school rules.

When I was in first grade, as part of the dress code, we were supposed to wear brown shoes --like loafers. Mom insisted on sending me to school in red tennis shoes anyhow. She said it was absolutely ridiculous to put me in brown shoes when I was going to be racing around on a blacktop during recess. So every day Mrs. Wallace, my teacher, sent a note home with me, telling my mother that she needed to buy me some brown shoes, and every day Mom laughed at the note.

"Girls and boys should run around at recess. Hard shoes are not good for running, and you are not wearing hard brown shoes," Mom said. Every day, for the first weeks of school Mrs. Wallace would complain about my shoes. She also said my skirts were more than two inches above my knees. And my hair needed to be combed. (I had a permanent cow lick that Mrs. Wallance once hosed down with Aqua Net.) But the worst was the day when my mom picked me up, and Mrs. Wallace came to the car, wobbling on her orange high heels, to tell Mom that my tennis shoes were caked with cow manure. "What cow manure?" my mother asked, looking at my shoes which were coated with brown crusts and had a little bit of hay sticking out the sides. "Well," Mom said after a moment of silence. "It looks like she's wearing brown shoes today, doesn't it?"

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