Posted by: Kate | April 22, 2009

Teacher’s Pet

It was assumed, by classmates and teachers alike, that I was prime teacher’s-pet material.

I was a little too tall, and a lot too frumpy. Never overweight – in fact, on the string-bean side – but still able to put together a fully mismatching, unflattering outfit without breaking a sweat. I wore glasses. Huge, plastic, pink-tinted ’80s monstrosities, which would have seemed a bit much on a participant at the local nursing home’s Bingo night. My hair was so unstyled as to be double-take-worthy; if there were any mullet-headed Weebles, they could have gotten the idea from me.

And in case looking the part wasn’t enough, I was also socially awkward. I had a hard time making friends, partly because by the age of ten I had lived in something like ten different apartments, never remaining in one place long enough to become a part of the neighborhood crowd. And when kids did hang out with me, I was either too bossy, or too shy, or too unfashionable, or just too weird to even begin to fit in.

I was a nerd, back when the term was still new and had to be explained to elder family members. I read more books than I could keep track of; the 10-book limit from the library’s youth section seemed like a cruel and unusual punishment to me, and when I got my learner’s permit at 16, I had trouble finding my way past the end of my driveway. Always before, a car ride had meant relatively uninterrupted reading time, so the idea of paying attention for future navigation seemed to fade in the face of one more chapter. I loved learning, really no matter what the topic, and would eagerly page through each of my textbooks on the night we brought them all home to cover them in brown paper bags.

So, even I expected myself to earn the teacher’s pet moniker. I knew all the answers in class, would finish the in-class reading assignments ages before anyone else despite having read it through two or three times first just to stretch it out.

But somehow, I just never quite made it. It didn’t help that each of my first several teachers weren’t exactly open to the concept of having a pet. Mrs. Kittle, in first grade, was about 300 years old when I started, and was at least 500 years old by June of that year. She was nice enough, I suppose, but distant and very old-school. Mrs. Lucak had some potential, I thought, but ended up falling just short of having sufficient personality to really engage with. There was just no real benefit to sucking up to her, because she was just as nice whether you did extra stuff or not. And then there was Mrs. Guzyk, who apparently decided to despise me from day one and who never became more approachable as time went on. That third grade year was the only time I ever begged to stay home just because I didn’t want to go to school; it was the only time in my life I was accused of vandalism, because Mrs. Guzyk believed someone-or-other when they told her they saw me drawing on the bathroom walls. For one, I would never, and for another, I’m certain I always peed alone, so how would they know?

So, by fourth grade, my suck-up muscles were largely atrophied, and I never really focused on endearing myself overmuch to any particular teacher. I tried to be a good student, to help where I could be helpful and to learn everything I could and to not moan out loud when I got really bored, and that’s about where it ended.

Which is probably just as well, because I took enough flak from my classmates for having a terrible complexion, getting A’s on tests, and preferring to read rather than run around the playground. Finding a way to teacher’s pet-dom might well have ended my social life for good.

This is for this week’s edition of “the madhouse,” run each Wednesday in an attempt to bring structure to the masses. JMLC is it so far (should I really continue with it at all? Doesn’t matter to me how many play along, this is more a question for the participants… want to keep playing, or at least be able to?) and while Baino is not this week, she could still use a visit… Oh, there, <a href=”; target=”_blank” >Heather</a> tossed her hat in.  Three’s enough to keep a party going even if someone needs the bathroom, so we’re all good.
Ooh, in a breaking newsflash, we do have one more player for the week: Alli of newly-formed AlliMonster fame.



  1. I don’t know about anyone else but please keep going! I need the structure!!!! (and it’s allll about me, right?!?!) Besides, I love hearing everyone’s take on the same few words.

  2. I love Mrs Kittle . . I had a teacher called Mr Vague and the cap certainly fit! I’m a bit like you, lots of schools in different countries and states so no time to esconce myself as ‘pet’. An unenviable position anyway! And sorry for letting you down this week. I had a couple of things on my mind but yes, I’ll be back on board next week, Promise!

  3. I had the same glasses. Yuck! What was my mother thinking?

    (Please add me for today. The past few weeks I’ve been busy or couldn’t think of anything to say, but I do enjoy it. Don’t stop!)

  4. Jesus, Kate. No wonder we share a brain. I didn’t write a post because I knew you could do it for us.

    Please keep doing them. I will get back to participating!

  5. As a reader, I love the Wednesday theme day! One of these days, I do hope to participate too … I think the different takes on the “same” topic are so interesting!

  6. I’m so late in replying, but I did the Madhouse theme this week. It’s on my wordpress blog at

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