Painting ©2018 John Clark III
Closer and closer to summer vacation. I can smell it. Smells sweet ...
I remember when school let out for summer my first year as a teacher. I wasn't sure what to do. The most vacation I'd ever had before was three weeks, and I never took that all at one time. All summer long that year, it felt like I should be going to work. I kind of wondered if I should, in fact, be going to work or doing something. Fretting about it and feeling uncomfortable kept me from really enjoying a lot of the time off.
The second year, though, I was ready.
The last day of school is a great day, for everyone. I remember two or three years ago, after we escorted our students out of the building so they wouldn't trash the hallways or do anything else ridiculous, and it was all empty and quiet. It was amazing, as I stood there and literally felt the stress evaporating. I could actually feel the tension leaving my body.
Last year, I vowed to dance in the halls on the last day of school. And I did.
Since I started my "30 days of positive" project, I've honestly been having pretty darn good days at school. It's a little tough to remember everything from back in the day, but I swear we did not run wild in school, the way they do now. There was some pretty crazy stuff, like the bathroom across from the gym where everybody went between classes to smoke cigarettes. It was jammed with boys and thick with smoke. Teachers had to have known about it; it was always more of a smoking lounge than a bathroom. But when we did get out of line back then, and got caught, there were consequences. Maybe the consequences had little to no effect, but at least we learned that there are consequences in life for doing wrong. When I was a senior in high school, I was tardy to first period pretty much every day. My teacher, Mr. Watts, told me that he would either send me to the office every time I was late, or I could take a swat from him. He wasn't mad at me, and I knew he wasn't mad at me. He was just giving me a choice. I chose swats.
So nearly every morning, I walked in late, and we walked back out together, just down the hallway to the stairwell, where I bent over and touched the steps, and he walloped me with a wooden paddle. One swat that echoed up and down the empty hallway. Then I went back to class, trying to act nonchalant while my butt was on fire. Did it deter me from being tardy? Obviously not, because I was tardy all year long. But I guarantee you it deterred some other kid from being tardy. Because there would be a consequence -- and it involved pain. Oh yeah, it definitely hurt like hell.
And to me, there's not a thing in the world wrong with a little pain in a kid's life, and a little healthy fear. That's why I behaved when I was a kid. I was afraid of my old man. He could inflict some serious pain on the buttocks. A leather belt across the backside stings pretty good. And we kids who were "abused" like that by our parents survived. Somehow, we survived getting spanked. My mother slapped me right in the mouth, one time, hard. It really wasn't that big a deal, because I knew I deserved it. I was standing with her as she talked to a friend at the baseball fields where we played ball, and her friends's little daughter came running by. I don't know why I did it, but I stuck my foot out and tripped her. On an asphalt parking lot. Boom! Right in the mouth. Today, mama might be arrested.
Ah, the good ol' days ...
Oh, yeah, for all you local people, check out a copy tomorrow of the new Cove Banner newspaper. My friend, Larry, is resurrecting the newspaper that dates back to 1900, and I'll be writing a weekly column for it. The first edition is due out Friday. Look for it at area convenience stores.
Ciao, y'all ...
A few reviews of John's books
The 30-Day Optimism Solution:
“Part memoir, part informative text. You get both when reading 'Depression Blues' by John H. Clark III. Mr. Clark shares his struggles with depression in an honest and real way, and as the book progresses, so does his hope. Woven into the story as jumping off points are bits of information about depression and ways to "conquer" the sadness, loneliness, and despair that comes with it.
Mr. Clark becomes more than an author in this book; he becomes a friend who understands the pain of depression and provides light. I recommend this book to anyone looking for light or to anyone who knows someone with depression and wants to learn more.”
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