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Lessons to Live By: No Laughing Matter

Hi and welcome back!

I don’t know about you, but whenever it’s close to a school vacation, I get a little antsy. It’s harder to pay attention in school and even harder to concentrate—especially if it’s in a class that’s not your favorite.

Recently, right before our Spring Break, I learned that when it comes to school—and I’m guessing other big stuff in life—it’s important to show respect to the people who are in charge. I’m talking about teachers, your principal, or other grown-ups who are trying to help you become a better person. That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t question the things you see in the world (especially when it comes to your safety), but you should do it in a smart, thoughtful way. When you make positive choices, more often than not, you end up getting positive results.

Now you may be wondering, “Oh Noodle, you’re so likable and pleasant, how can you possibly not be awesome all the time?”

First, let me thank you for thinking that. But I’m not perfect. Let’s just say that I must’ve had a cloudy head that day, because my judgment sure was clouded. That’s why I should dive right into my story. 

Here’s what happened…

“Social” studies

I’ll start by telling you that I have been told on more than a couple of occasions that I have a habit of talking too much in class. (OK, I’ve gotten this feedback on several report cards.)

I also sometimes, possibly, maybe have a habit of talking too much when I don’t love the subject I’m studying. Spanish class is probably the best example.

A bunch of kids in my Spanish class are <mis personas favoritas > (that’s Spanish for “my favorite people”). My best friend Jeffrey is in the class, my other friend Pete (remember him from my last blog?), and some other people whose names you don’t yet know are in Spanish class with me. 

We aren’t in every class together this year, so it’s fun to see them. It’s only natural that you want to talk to your friends, right?

Other than being with my friends, though, I don’t particularly like Spanish class. If I told you that my teacher, Señor González, was horrible, that might be a good reason for why I didn’t enjoy Spanish. But Señor González is a super person. He’s one of the nicest teachers in the school. He notices when you get a haircut, when you’re wearing something new, or if it looks like you’re having a bad day. I really like him a lot for that.

Basically, I don’t like the Spanish class because Spanish isn’t an easy language to learn. I wish I were better at it, but I know that will require a lot more effort.

And while he’s really nice, Señor González is also very strict. He believes that we should use the class time to focus on the lesson, and then, if there’s time left over, we can have some fun. Usually, fun means playing a Spanish game like Loteria (Bingo), Memoría (Memory), or Simón dice (Simon says). All great games, in my opinion, though I have a slight preference for Simón dice.

The other day, we were having a lesson on grammar. I’ll admit that I wasn’t as focused as I should’ve been. When I’m distracted, I can sometimes distract others. Fortunately, my behavior hadn’t yet amounted to a red alert—a message home to my parents—until this latest incident.

I’m sad to say that my cloudy head that day ended up causing quite a storm.

Tooting your own horn

Here’s what happened: Jeffrey dropped his pencil on the floor. When he reached down to pick it up, his chair made a funny noise. In case you were wondering, the noise was like a sound a person might make after, say, a large meal of baked beans or big serving of boiled cabbage. We all knew it was Jeffrey’s chair that made the noise, but still, I couldn’t keep my laughter in. At the time, I was laughing hysterically.  (It still makes me laugh just thinking about it.)

Señor González paused while we (umm, mostly me) collected ourselves. I wish I hadn’t had such a cloudy head.

I’m pretty sure Señor González also said something like “quiet down.” But in my mind, I kept replaying the sound Jeffrey’s chair made. I couldn’t stop laughing. My laughing made Jeffrey laugh. I knew I should’ve tried to hold my laughter in and settle down, but I didn’t.

That’s when Señor González gave Jeffrey and me “The Look.” You may have seen “The Look” before (hopefully, it was on TV and not directed at you).

“The Look” that Señor González gave told us we’d gone too far. We’d crossed the line with our laughing.  Unfortunately, by the time we got “The Look” and quieted down, it was too late.

Putting the “F” in effort

“Noodle and Jeffrey, you are disrupting my lesson. Please wait outside in the hallway until the end of class.” Señor González not only pointed to the door, but he also opened it for us.

A bunch of kids in the class said “oooohhh,” under their breath as we slithered towards the door. This was not good.

Pete looked at me as if to say, “now you’ve done it.” I noticed how straight Pete was sitting in his chair. He, apparently, did not have a cloudy head like me. I suddenly wished I had been better behaved that day. 

I knew that waiting outside in the hallway wasn’t going to end well. I was right.

As luck would have it (or in my case, bad luck), the principal, Mrs. Briggs, came around the corner with the Assistant Principal. Mrs. Briggs told the Assistant Principal that she’d meet her in a moment. 

My stomach sunk, as I knew Mrs. Briggs wasn’t going to walk by without speaking to us first.

Even though I’d had a cloudy head, I sure wasn’t going to be floating after this conversation.

Hall(way) of shame

“Jeffrey. Noodle. What are you doing in the hallway?”

I knew that I shouldn’t make a joke about how the classroom was stuffy and we needed some fresh air, or that Jeffrey and I were in the middle of a meeting. So, I came clean.

“We were laughing too much in Spanish class. Señor González told us to wait in the hallway until the lesson was over.”

“I see,” Mrs. Briggs paused before she continued. “Did you know that almost 500 million people around the world speak Spanish? It’s a pretty important language to learn. We’re lucky that Señor González is one of our best teachers. I’ll leave you to think about that.”

I don’t know which I felt worse about, getting in trouble by Señor González or getting caught by Mrs. Briggs. Either way, my cloudy head was definitely back down on the ground. Before the bell rang, Señor González motioned that we could come back into class. I knew that damage had already been done.

“I hope you both understand why I sent you into the hallway.” Jeffrey and I nodded. “I also feel that your parents should be told about this incident. You should know that I will be contacting them about your behavior. I want you to succeed not just in my class, but in school. Disrupting class gets in the way of your learning, and your classmates’ learning.”

Jeffrey and I both muttered, “sorry” and hurried to our next class.

I was ready for the day to be over.

Sadly, the story doesn’t end there.

Facing the music

Thankfully, the rest of the school day passed without incident. I had a feeling that the events from Spanish class were not quite over. Almost as soon as I got home from school, my mom came into my room.

“Noodle, please turn down your music.” She shared with me what Señor González had said.

Even though I knew that I had behaved badly, my first instinct was to find a way to make the situation seem…less bad.

“Jeffrey’s parents probably heard from Señor González, too. So, you see? I’m not the only one.” Maybe my mom wouldn’t think it was such a big deal if she knew Jeffrey also got in trouble. But my mom is someone who never seems to suffer from a cloudy head. I knew she saw right through my clouded judgment. 

“Jeffrey is not my child. You are.” My mom motioned for me to sit down on my bed. “Noodle, when you misbehave in class, it annoys your teacher and it disrupts everyone’s learning.”

“Yes, but it was grammar. Grammar is boring.” I would’ve kept on complaining about grammar, but my mother wasn’t having it.

“Even if the subject you’re studying isn’t your favorite, you go to school for a reason. Think of school as your job. Your job is to learn. Your teachers are there to teach you. Making their job harder takes away from your job.”

My mom had a point (as usual).

Hocus focus

While I didn’t want to admit my mom was right in the moment, I knew I’d have to work harder at my job. I couldn’t risk having another cloudy head day. 

The next time we had Spanish class, I did my best to focus on the lesson. I tried extra hard to raise my hand and speak only when I was called on. (I had to sit on my hands for the rest of the time.)

At the end of class, Señor González said “<Buen trabajo> (good job), Noodle and Jeffrey.” He even had the class give us a round of applause for our excellent behavior. Then, Jeffrey and I got to choose which game we got to play with the extra class time. (Simón dice, of course, and I won!)

I guess the lesson I learned is that, when it comes to school (and probably lots of other stuff), it’s better to be recognized for good things, than bad ones. Knowing the right time to question authority or rules that may seem unfair is an important skill to have. But I can admit that disrupting Señor González’s class wasn’t one of those situations.

After that experience, I’ve decided to work harder in Spanish class. And who knows? If I ever go to Spain (or a Spanish-speaking country) and someone challenges me to a game of Simón dice, I just might win. And I’ll have Señor González to thank.

Until next time, be your best you.

Do you have any stories about learning an important lesson from an experience? Please share with them me in the comments section! 

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