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I think my grade one thought processes reasoned, the best way to avoid a strap from Mr. Gillett, the principal of pain was, very simply, avoid Mr. Gillett, the principal of pain.

Primary School from Hell
Chapter Six: The Principal of Pain

[Continuing from]

We had been told, in horrific detail by the grade threes, that anytime you got sent to the principal’s office, for any reason, Principal Gillett would give you a strap. We had been told he had no mercy when rules were broken. We had been told that he loved using the big leather strap as punishment for broken rules and would not stop till you cried. All through Kindergarten I had managed to stay out of the Principle’s office.

Grade one was a little more problematic.

The strap

During the winter of first grade we had a snowstorm one night prior. As I was walking back to school from lunch, myself and a classmate started playing in a huge snowdrift that had formed on the hill leading down towards the school. This was a special type of playing that could only be played maybe once every couple of winters when there was that rare convergence of just the right consistency of snow combined with just the right placement of a snowdrift at just the right depth. Diving into the air with arms spread like wings, hoping to outwit gravity before its laws kicked in and pulled you from the heavens into a mattress of cotton soft, pure, white drifts of snow was an experience that, even for a six year old, made one utterly forget the concept of time.

Suddenly, we realized we were alone.

From our vantage point on top of the hill we looked out over a deserted school yard. The bell had rung and we were late. My friend turned towards home and said ” If we go in late, Miss will send us to Principal Gillett’s office for a strap.” He ran away.

As for me, I ran across the field, tears streaming down my rosy red cheeks. (I blame the tears on running in the cold, of course.) I didn’t want to be late. I didn’t want to go to the office. I didn’t want Principal Gillett to realize I had broken the rules. I didn’t want a strap.

It was at that very instant, when I laid my hand on the big brass door handle, that probably still had my taste buds bonded to it, I realized, once I step through that door I would end up getting a strap.

Then my flawed grade one logic kicked in. “If I don’t step through this door, I can’t get a strap.”
My problem was solved and it was such an easy solution. I stepped away from the big door and for the first time ever, I skipped school.

There would be no strap for me. That didn’t mean there wouldn’t be pain.

COMING NEXT: CHAPTER SIX: THE PAIN PRINCIPLE

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