Monday, August 22, 2011

2nd Grade Stinks, But My Kid Doesn't

I turned off the shower in time to hear a cabinet shutting on the other side of the door.

"Don't come out yet Mom," called my almost-2nd-grader Ryan from our sink area. As he left my room he yelled "OK, it's safe." FINALLY the kid is at the point where he is grossed out by seeing me naked.

I opened up the door to become temporarily bewildered by a waft of perfumy manliness that I don't typically smell at 1 in the afternoon. I looked at the counter and saw my husband's deodorant sitting out among the items that I lovingly leave strewn there each day.

We were now late to leave to meet his 2nd grade teacher at Open House. When he came back in I asked the question I already knew the answer to: "Did you put on deodorant Ryan?" Instead of a verbal answer, I got The Dork Look: a combination of a scrunched up nose and a smirk topped off with a beet red face. No, this kid wasn't going to ruin his opportunity to make a stellar first impression in the unlikely event that his teacher smelled his non-existent stench. I mean, what if she lifted up his arm to smell his pits? He was prepared.

2nd grade is gonna be a good year for my man.

I, on the other hand, hated 2nd grade. It was by far the worst of 17 utterly lack-luster years of the catastrophe that was my educational career. I perfected my half-assery in 2nd grade. It is because of 2nd grade that I'm completely convinced that I should have been diagnosed with ADD.

2nd grade stunk. And so did my teacher whose breath wreaked of cigarettes and coffee, a smell I can still remember nearly 30 years later. She was a witch. A wrinkled 40-something-year-old who hated me to the core. A hag of a woman who tried to FAIL me despite my high-achieving test scores (proven, by the way) because in all honesty, I was a lazy student with the attention span of a newborn whose mother smoked crack while pregnant. OK, maybe that's an exaggeration.

When my parents asked me why I wasn't paying attention in class I told them it was because looking out the window at the birds was more interesting than school - a valid point that I still stand by to this day. It was a huge picture window backing up to the woods. In my defense, there was a BIRD FEEDER for Heaven's sake! What kid wouldn't find that more interesting?

2nd grade was the year of the Wagon Wheel School Photo. I love how my necklace is pulled out and carefully arranged on the outside of my western shirt. I owned this shirt. And I lived in South Florida. And I owned a WESTERN SHIRT!?!? And the wisps of hair giving me the look of a young Medusa? Yes, I still have those. My hair is and always has been a mess.

And most importantly 2nd grade was my inspiration for the term "2nd Grade Hungry." You know when you're REALLY starved? So starved that you're in physical pain? So famished that you think you might die sitting there at your desk contemplating gnawing on your #2 pencil or at least sucking on the eraser, completely salivating thinking of the crappy non-Fruit Rollup items your mom put in your ugly Farmhouse lunchbox that you had to get because we always waited 'till the last day before school started to go to Kmart to buy lunch boxes and by then they were already picked through (yes, 2nd grade)? THAT, my friend, is what I call "2nd Grade Hungry." Feel free to use it.

And when 2nd grade ended I switched schools. Spoiler Alert: I went to 3rd grade and went on to hate school for another 10 years and then 4 more years of self-inflicted agony I fondly call "college."

I hope that the application of deodorant yesterday works as 2nd Grade Stinks Replant for Ryan. Perhaps the literal application of anti-stink will serve as the antidote he needs to come out smelling like a rose. Or at least Speed Stick.



  1. I can't even remember second grade. Was it so traumatic that I blocked it out of my memory? Maybe it's because I don't have a western shirt or a wagon wheel picture and I lived in the west!

  2. I loved your post...funny and poignant! And, it
    brought back memories of my second grade, which
    by the way, are very sweet memories of a wonderful teacher and a perfectly perfect year.


  3. I love that picture, Ali. It looks JUST LIKE YOU. In fact, you should change your avi to a grown-up you wearing a fantastic western shirt just like that one. I'm sure you could find a wagon wheel set up just like that at your local Walmart photo studio.

  4. Yikes! It was that bad? Second grade is supposed to be full of fun. :(

  5. My incoming 2nd grader will probably have a year similar to what you described. She is the most social creature ever but has decided she doesn't care for school for whatever reason. I was going to go to Target today to get a lunch box, but I think I will wait until the day before school starts to give her the whole experience.

  6. Hahaha! I love the wagon wheel picture. Was that Little House on the Prairie day?? I once told my teacher that I thought school was boring. She looked at me, gasped and goes "I'm SHOCKED!" I was only being honest.

  7. You crack me up...but that really sucks you had a bad teacher! I'm with Shell...second grade is still supposed to be fun! I hope your son has a better year than you did! And the Western wear shirt? You totally rocked it ;)

  8. A moment of silence for the wagon wheel.

    And 2nd grade hungry is spot on. Nice one.

  9. Why do boys like to bathe in stink?

    I spent all of second grade in the hall.

  10. Oh I love how your son decided to put on the pit stick!! That is FANTASTIC!! LOVE IT!!

    The wagon wheel, well...I don't know what to say about that except YOWZA!!

    I will remember the 2nd grade hungry and make sure to pack tons of food in my sons lunch.

    For your sake, and mine...I hope our boys have a great year in 2nd Grade!

  11. My daughter starts second grade next week. I hope she doesn't put on her dad's deodorant. I don't think that will go over well.

  12. Ali, we have the SAME HAIR. I need to find a pic of me in 2nd grade. Twins!

    My hubby was like you. Super smart, hated school. It was freaking boring, ya know?

  13. 2nd grade hungry. Love that! Think I'm going to have to start using that.

  14. The bird feeder anecdote was classic. Witty stuff.

  15. Second grade hungry is how I feel every day of my life...and dude that is a phenomenal wagon wheel. It makes as much sense as a beach setting in west Virginia.

  16. Your post made me laugh - I totally know "2nd grade hungry" - I experience it about every 2 hours (big appetite)! 2nd grade must have been terrible for you if you remember that many details (I have no idea what my 2nd grade teacher's name was)! Let's hope it's a better experience for our kids!

  17. Fantastic post! I don't suppose you were at Coral Sunset in Boca, with Ms. Dowd for 2nd grade, were you? Your description sounded exactly like what I experienced for that year of school, and she hated me too. Ironically, I went on to enroll in the Gifted program in 3rd grade!