Ignorant and Blithely Oblivious, Part 1

sword of Damocles

It’s going to drop.  Murphy’s Law says so.

It has been said, “ignorance is bliss.”  Perhaps in the short term that’s true.  It’s sort of hard to have fun when one can see the Sword of Damocles hanging over one’s head.

I remember the most miserable vacation I’d ever had.  When I was in seventh grade I had a rather difficult time with math, and I didn’t particularly like the math teacher to boot.  She was one of the teachers that assumed that since I had aptitude for and achieved in every other subject that I should excel in math as well.  Yeah.  Right.

Reportcard1915

In those days you got a report card every six weeks, that your parent/guardian/resident adult had to sign and return to the teacher.  In my family it was worse than that- DAD had to sign it, as his signature is rather ornate and hard to copy.  He always perused my report cards with particular scrutiny before signing them.  Anything less than straight A’s usually got me grounded, and usually the only subject that was difficult for me to get an A in was, of course, math.

That six weeks before Thanksgiving break I’d barely ended up with a C- in math class, as well as the teacher had included a nasty note on the report card that implied that I was a horrible slacker because I didn’t do well in her class.

The signed report cards were due back the Monday after Thanksgiving.  Joy.

Dad wasn’t particularly worried about report cards that Thanksgiving break as he was preoccupied with a long-planned trip to my grandmother’s in St. Louis.  Normally I would be thrilled about getting to see my grandmother (Mom’s Mom) who I only got to see once or twice a year and, if I was lucky, for a week or two in summer, but this was a miserable trip.

 vacationfamily truckster

I’d rather have been stranded with the Griswalds.

I kept wondering when Dad was going to ask about report cards, and/or when my oldest sister would remind him.  She was normally quite anxious to get hers signed.  She usually got mostly A’s and a B now and then.  Dad didn’t usually give her any trouble unless she got below a B in anything.  But even my sadistic oldest sister wasn’t in any real hurry to show off her report card this go-round. I would discover later that she had gotten 3 B’s and a bad conduct comment from the gym teacher, which wasn’t quite normal for her either.   Her conduct usually was bad- no surprise there- but she was generally very good at hiding her sadism from adults.  It was unusual for her to get caught.

My other sister always got crappy grades (Dad usually didn’t get on her if she at least got C’s)- but she had mostly C’s and one D- so she wasn’t in any hurry to have Dad sign her report card either.  None of us had the courage to hit Dad up for signatures until the last minute- mostly because nobody wanted to spend an eight hour road trip (one way) listening to Dad seethe and fume on about how bad our grades were.  I know I didn’t want to be around Dad in close proximity for four days when he’s pissed.  Let him be pissed on Monday when he’s at work and I don’t have to deal with it.

Even so, all I could think about the entire trip was a.) the inevitable browbeating I would get over Mrs. Vitriol’s (not her real name) catty comments, and Dad’s predictable volatility and malaise for the next six weeks. I wouldn’t be going anywhere besides school and the library for a long time.

teacher_behaviornote_sample

Mrs. Vitriol’s note was NOT this nice.

I actually tried to find an example of a “nasty note from school” online, and uncovered nothing more than vapid entreaties to parents that they should encourage Suzie or Jimmy to be his or her “best self” tomorrow or similar tripe.   My note was to the effect of, “Your daughter is lazy and doesn’t care if she achieves in my class or not.”  A little something to make Dad go medieval on my sorry ass.   Which he did- with extreme prejudice.  Nothing got Dad hot faster than having any teacher accuse me of slacking in school, warranted or not.

The sad irony is that math was the only class I ever really did study for.  It just didn’t make sense to me, and still doesn’t once I get beyond what I call “accounting math-” the basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division one needs to navigate in daily life.   I can balance a checkbook, I can figure out what kind of mileage I get, and so forth, but that’s about the extent of my mathematical ability.  It was a real struggle for me to get to the point of having that much understanding.  I have about as much aptitude for things mathematical as I do for sports.

I would have had a lot more fun on that trip to my grandmother’s if I hadn’t gotten that report card until after vacation.  In that instance maybe ignorance would have afforded a little bit of bliss.

life easier when stupid

Perhaps, but intellect has its advantages.

The Grateful Dead said, “I may be goin’ to hell in a bucket, baby, but at least I’m enjoyin’ the ride.”  Apparently that’s how the ignorant go through life.

hell in a bucket

Biker Wisdom 101

One thing I can say for that philosophy is it probably cuts down on stress.  After all, most stress comes from worrying about things that never happen anyway.  Unfortunately I find myself taking the Murphy’s Law approach most of the time.  I figure everything’s going to go wrong anyway.

In all seriousness, though, worrying about things that a.) will happen anyway, and b.) I can’t change, really is a waste of time.

2 thoughts on “Ignorant and Blithely Oblivious, Part 1

  1. Grades were never that big a deal with my mom. She would be disappointed with every report card (I graduated high school with a 2.47 GPA, I was in the 53% percentile–that’s better than half!), but it was a battle she never fought too hard.

    My kids, although blond-haired and blue-eyed, are 1/8th latino, which renders grades practically moot in terms of college acceptance. Viva race-based quotas!

    • Poor Anglo-Saxon Steve-o, who will be paying back those student loans for a long, long time. Apparently God still hates the Germans. And probably the English and Scots too. I think that’s why Dad was so on me and my sisters about grades even though being white, female, in the top 5% of my graduating class, but pathetically unathletic, got me absolutely squat. I got accepted everywhere I applied but scholarships were only for males, minorities or jocks no matter how good your grades were. Steve-o, being male but also white and unathletic and having a dismal GPA (even though he was a straight A student his junior and senior years,) had an even worse time getting in school and testing out of the remedial classes.

      Work the system however you can!

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