Susy F. fascinated me in second grade. I thought that there was something magical about her but I couldn't quite pin it down. Remember, I was a little kid back then and I was observing her through my second grade eyes. And observe I did. I spent much of each day watching how she managed to get the teacher to like her so much. Later, my brother told me that someone like this was referred to as a "teacher's pet." In that moment, I resolved that I would become a teacher's pet by the third grade.
What you need to know about me is that I am not, by nature, designed to be a teacher's pet. I have always been delighted by the mischievous, the forbidden, and the elusive. Nonetheless, I had made myself a promise and I had no intention to disappoint myself. Yes, I might have been sneaking around in my aunt's closet peeking at her True Story magazines, popular confessional magazines at the time, and doing other non-teacher's pet' things but I was able to live with both sorts of behavior. Besides, True Story magazine had women confessing about unhappiness but offered no insight into how to be a teacher's pet.
The teacher's pet was called on frequently to do things like erase the blackboard, deliver items to other classrooms, hand out work sheets, and other such tasks that I coveted. And, it seemed to me that it was always this Suzy that was selected time after time. I even had fantasies of starting to ask to have my name changed to Suzy. There just didn't seem to be a way to go from Barbara to Suzy but believe me I gave this lots of thought. I looked in the mirror and practiced Suzy's facial expressions, her soft way of speaking, and even started to wear my hair like hers but nope it didn't work for me. I just simply couldn't compete. This was not for lack of trying. I would have given up every tidbit of gossip from True Story to be called on, just one time, to wash the blackboard. My longing to wash that blackboard still makes me practically salivate to this day. It is like the feeling that I get when I spot a pair of shoes that I absolutely must and do purchase.
By the end of second grade I had it figured out. Suzy was EXTREMELY agreeable and always smiled. She was so good-natured. And, her homework was always so beautifully and neatly presented. I resolved over the summer of second grade to march into third grade with a smile plastered on my face and to be the sweetest and most delightful student in the class. I kid you not when I tell you that Mrs. K., my third grade teacher, thought that I was the cat's meow. There was no question that I was her pet. I had blackboard responsibilities. I delivered messages rather than myself to the principal's office. Mrs. K. even told me what a pleasure I was to have in her class. And, I always did my homework so neatly. She was so proud. That was such a wonderful year. I loved Mrs. K. and she loved me.
Looking back, I wonder what the other kids in the class thought of my special status. Were they studying me with the same hungry desire with which I had studied Suzy? I guess I will never know. After third grade, I had other teachers that I liked but never one who quite compared to Mrs. K. I read her obituary in the newspaper about a decade ago and was so sad. I hoped that she knew that she had been so special to me. My guess is that I was not the only little girl that liked her. She was a really upbeat teacher and took her job very seriously. Let's hear it for Mrs. K. and others like her.