|My name is Amy Hayek. I am Timothy’s daughter.
I am 12 years old and am in Miss Lionel’s 4th period Language Arts class.
I’m telling you about Miss Lionel because that’s the reason I’m writing
this instead of Drew. My dad says there are other reasons that Drew is not
writing this, but he won’t let me write them.
I am on suspension from school for my “…misguided and unfounded idealism, bordering on compulsiveness…” Daddy and I came to Tucson after Thanksgiving to visit Richard and Drew before we go to Archer City to buy books. When Richard said that Drew wasn’t writing the Notes on Construction, my dad said, “Amy here’s been talking pretty big lately. Get her a pair of them shoes and let’s see if she can walk the walk.” And then they put me on the porch with a laptop and they gave me a sweater and told me I had to write it for Drew while Daddy knocked some sense into the big baby.
Miss Lionel and I do not get along all the time. She is a nice lady, but doesn’t always make sense. In the beginning of first semester we got into a fight because she was telling Paula that spelling was not important and that the best she could do would be just fine. I told Paula that she should get a dictionary because you can find the word even if you don’t really know how to spell it, and Paula said Thank You and smiled and then Miss Lionel ran over and told Paula that she shouldn’t listen to me and told me I was going to hurt Paula’s feelings and that it wasn’t her fault that she wasn’t as good at spelling as I was. I said that it doesn’t matter whose fault it is, but that it was Paula’s fault anyway, but she could get better by working on it, and furthermore (I didn’t say furthermore, but I read it somewhere else later and I want to pretend that I did say it), if she doesn’t work on it then the best she can do now is going to always be the best she can do forever. And if the best she could do forever is to always misspell things, then she’s going to relegate (I did say that, my dad used it earlier that day) herself to a lower level than she’s meant for.
Miss Lionel got really mad when I said that and her eyes got all big and she walked kind of shaky. She sat at her desk and counted. Paula and me laughed at her counting. We thought she was acting like she was on T.V. where counting to ten makes a difference and fires get put out and families find lost puppies just because someone knew the right time to count to ten.
And then Miss Lionel freaked out. She pointed at me and said, “How dare you make class distinctions in my class?” And Paula and I said, “What do you mean?” And she told Paula to stay out of it. She kept pointing at me and called me racist. She said that I said that Paula couldn’t spell because she was black, and I said that I didn’t say that. I said that I had said that Paula should learn to spell. Paula said, “Anyway, I’m Indonesian,” and then David Bradford said to Miss Lionel “That’s racial insensitivity, Miss Lionel. You were telling her to not even try to spell, you thought she was black and so she wasn’t going to ever need to spell anyway.” Miss Lionel hissed and said to me, “Get out of here you little fascist, go and see Miss Suter in Administration and tell her why you feel you have to denigrade [me and Paula agree that’s the word she used, even though it doesn’t mean anything] the placidity of my non-authoritarian rule.” She kicked Paula and David Bradford out too. We sat in an alcove two halls over and wrote down what she said, because it was so funny and I wanted to make sure to ask my dad what a fascist was anyway, and make sure too that Miss Lionel really wasn’t making any sense.
Daddy said I shouldn’t worry what she said. He said that it’s hard to take insult when you don’t understand what someone says, even if you kind of get what they were trying to say. He said too that I need to respect Miss Lionel’s position and not cause problems in class. He said I’ll get to argue in high school and college. He said that 6th grade isn’t the time to debate with your teachers.
We got along fine until last week when I was watching something on T.V. and someone made a joke about gerunds. I asked Miss Lionel what a gerund was the next day. She stared at me and then she blinked and she counted some and then she said, “Nothing that you need to know.” And I said, “I don’t care if I need to know it, I want to know. What is it?” And then Paula and David Bradford, who both sit very far from me and from each other, asked to know what it was.
She didn’t know that I looked it up the night before. I suspected that she didn’t know what it was. I wasn’t going to ask, because I knew it would make her mad, but then I thought she should know certain things if she was going to be teaching, and one of those things I thought she should know was what a gerund was. I looked at Paula and then at David Bradford and said, “A gerund is simply a verbal noun, or more simply, the -ing form.” Paula and David Bradford wrote it down, which I thought was funny, but also a good thing because even though it was funny it was still an opportunity to learn what a gerund was. Miss Lionel got more mad than I have ever seen her and stopped counting. Paula said later that Miss Lionel was so mad she didn’t care if she found any more puppies that day.
“You disrespectful little fascist!” she yelled at me. I know what a fascist is and so I know she doesn’t know what she’s saying. So I kind of like it when she calls me that. From her it sounds like the wind. She pointed her finger at me and I felt a little scared this time because she was shaking and spitting a little when she talked. “This, young lady, is my Language Arts class. Not, I repeat, not the Amy Hayek Didactic Hour.” I smiled when she said that, because, really, how cool would that be? The Amy Hayek Didactic Hour. She misinterpreted my smile and said that wipe that smile thing that adults say all the time on T.V. And then I thought again that she should have known what a gerund was and I wondered how much other stuff I needed that she couldn’t give me. I asked her, “Why don’t we have an English class, Miss Lionel?” and she said, “This, Miss Hayek¸ is a Language Arts class. You will find it more than sufficient for your edification.”
I slammed my Language Arts book on my desk and said, “Language Arts is not English. Language Arts is—” Daddy said that profanity isn’t the best way to get your point across. He said it also helps get you suspended. In some schools anyway.
I didn’t think I was going to write that much. I’m supposed to be writing about how Drew makes spork. I will tell you quickly. I’m going to copy from the cheat sheet Drew gave me.
While all that is going on, someone else should: