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Dear Readers, It's September - time to go back to school. Don't get me started on school. A necessary evil, that's the best I can say. But what can you do? School is where kids first learn about power outside the family. They may or may not learn other stuff there, but believe me no one ever forgets having to fork over the lunch money to a goon or how good it feels to be the one in the middle when three friends go walking.

To Momma and Poppa: YOU may make a teacher quiver simply by raising one nostril in dismay, YOU may scare the living daylights out of the bully and all of the bully's relatives back to the ninth generation, YOU may be the reason your precious figlio is not beat up and left for dead, YOU may be really really smart, either school or street,no matter. Your personal power can not be inherited like your house or a favorite ring. Some day you will die and who will protect them then? My advice to you is: back off.

KIDS: Some school power comes from pleasing the adults in charge by doing what they ask, raise your hand, be polite, work hard, all that. The goodies come, no doubt about it, gold stars, pats on the back, all sorts of benefits of the doubt in iffy situations., such as when it comes down to your very good golden word against the word of a mouthy trouble maker (especially useful if the trouble maker is telling the truth. ) BUT: No teacher can protect you in a crowded hallway during change of class, or in the locker room, you know that. No parent can make you popular, they only get in the way. Forget about it, you're on your own here.

1. Better to deal than squeal. Kick the bully in the shins, give it all you've got. Other means of self defense include acting crazy, making people laugh, either with or at. So what if you get in trouble, small price to pay.

2. Don't be afraid of sitting alone. That takes care of any popular kids who think who they are. If you don't give a fig, they can't touch you.

3. Be loyal. No one likes a two-faced flat leaver.

4. Play the game. This is life, get used to it.

5. Don't expect thanks when you kick people in the teeth. By which I mean, if for some reason the game does not appeal, which sometimes can't be helped, such as when the teacher is a bozo and your self respect demands that you make his life a living hell, remember no matter how justified, especially IF justified, no one will be grateful.

All power should be wielded in the interests of safety and justice, no exceptions. If you don't know what those interests are, you have my address.

God bless, Donna

 

Dear Madrone:

Last winter I broke my foot and I had to stay off it for six weeks, what agita. I found some comfort in a poem you ran, about broken legs. I kept it in my wallet, which unfortunately was stolen while I was trying on shoes at the mall, the shoes were fabulous, on sale, 80% off for all Joey O's. I don't even miss the wallet, it was old and I have insurance on the cards. I'm not a fool. But I miss the poem. Could you rerun it?

Happy Feet Iowa City


With Pleasure. God bless, Donna


Broken Legs

Broken Legs

Better than broken eggs

Legs will heal

Eggs congeal

And might ruin your meal

But not if you eat eel

Or scungilli

Although, it might be a problem

If you're making breaded veal.

In which case water or milk

Will help you deal.

Anonymous

.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pamela Bongiorno Monk is a full time faculty member of Penn State University, where she teaches creative writing, both fiction and non fiction. She pursues freelance writing, authoring plays and feature articles. She has broken nearly as many rules of family as she has enforced.

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