I Was a Boy Martyr!

Why Life Isn’t Fair (an Occasional Series)

In the autumn of my 4th grade year, my buddy Rory and I became obsessed with constructing miniature villages. The result, under one particular twig-shedding tree, was a hamlet of remarkable charm. We worked on it during school recesses and quickly garnered rave reviews from multiple cute girls. In fact, our little town, populated by disoriented ants and roly-polies, was dubbed “Adoraville” by none other than Melinda Aardman, the miniature_mossy_twig_house_2most beautiful nine year old in the universe.

Unfortunately, we also attracted a nemesis: the formerly benign Mrs. Gibbons. I’d been in her class the year before and had been one of her favorites. What changed? I’ll never know.

On an unusually warm late fall day, she decided to punish her 3rd graders by making them stay inside and eat their lunches in torturous silence. Before long, outsiders began to whisper in ghostly voices through the cracked-open doorway, make squeaky noises with their lips, and engage in other equally sophisticated activities. Mrs. Gibbons raced out the door, but the five delinquents ran in six directions, and she missed them all. So she sturm-und-dranged her way into Principal Booker’s office, grabbed him by the lapels, and dragged him out onto the campus.

archeological-digHere’s the mysterious part: she headed straight for the idyllic little village Rory and I had built and stomped on it, instantly reducing it to an archeological site. Then she pointed at me and said, “That Teemley boy! He’s their ringleader!”

I don’t think Principal Booker believed her. But she was one of his teachers, and he had to stand behind her (safer there). Even after several perps came forward, confessed their crimes against humanity, and swore I had not been with them, Mrs. Gibbons stuck to her story, insisting I was not only one of them, but was, in fact, the chief wise guy, the Don himself!

So I spent the next month in recess purgatory: sitting on the sidewalk, disallowed even the most basic freedoms that great Americans like Thomas Jefferson and Mahatma Gandhi had fought and died for.

That was when I discovered two devastating truths:

  • The Law of Fairness gets broken more and more often as you get older
  • Sometimes people, especially grownups, break it on purpose!

I sat there day after day, stewing in my righteousness, slowly evolving into Mitch the Martyr. And then I had an epiphany: I liked being a martyr! Kids walked by, nodding in admiration, covertly raising solidarity fists. And best of all, whenever Melinda Aardman passed (am I just imagining this?), her eyes moistened in adoring empathy!images

But I didn’t just like being a martyr, I liked standing for something important. And what could be more important than Fairness? I’d always been in favor of it, but now I redoubled my efforts. Hey, I did plenty dopey things as a kid, but one thing I’m proud of is that I stood for fairness whenever I could. Seriously. I got beat up more than once for standing between a bully and some poor, perpetual “cootie bug.” And my rallying cry was always: “That’s not fair!”

Ah, I love the smell of Fairness in the morning!

To read more of Why Life Isn’t Fairclick here.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Culture, For Pastors and Teachers, Humor, Memoir and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to I Was a Boy Martyr!

  1. Jay says:

    This is really inspired writing, Mitch. I love the story; I think it has that ring of truth that speaks to our own little injustices.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. This really was delightful to read. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh childhood memories make the best stories!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Pingback: The Law of Fairness | Mitch Teemley

  5. Aquileana says:

    Great post…. and those two laws are so woefully true… Sigh…
    Best regards, Aquileana ❤ ★

    Liked by 2 people

  6. mitchteemley says:

    Reblogged this on Mitch Teemley and commented:

    “Never look for justice in this world, but never cease to give it.” ~Oswald Chambers


  7. What a strong testament.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. tabitha59reachingout says:

    What a great post, Mitch. It’s funny, rings so true, made me laugh, feel sorry for you (that was so unfair!), get annoyed at your teacher (who likely was kept by pride from backing down – sheesh), and I must admit I am impressed with your very clever use of words. AND I believe it is a true story too! 🙂 ………………….. I also love little villages. They must have been so cute.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mitchteemley says:

      Thank you, Debbie. Yes, it is a true story. I have no animosity toward the teacher now; only she and God know what she was dealing with at the time. And, yeah, we thought our little villages were pretty wonderful–I would probably be considerably less impressed if I saw them now. ;>)

      Liked by 1 person

      • tabitha59reachingout says:

        You are right. I shouldn’t say what was the cause of her behavior. So not fair, though! 🙂 I am sure it was easy to feel like a martyr. I’ve been there myself. And for a nine year old to take on a large task like a little village is pretty impressive, even if it may not have been perfect. I enjoyed your post. 🙂 Debbie

        Liked by 1 person

  9. BelleUnruh says:

    Great story, and perhaps it was worth the shame and pain to learn how to be fair yourself. I had some pretty crazed teachers myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Jennie says:

    Great post. Let’s hope that sweetheart of a teacher reads this, or at least changed her tune over the years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mitchteemley says:

      I certainly hope so (if she’s still with us, she’s quite old by now). I liked her–and she seemed to like me–the year before when I was in her class, so something changed; here’s hoping whatever that something was, she pushed her way past it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jennie says:

        Yes, here’s hoping. You never know what is going on in the lives of another another person, so that year of accusing you may have resulted from a tough time in her life. It doesn’t make it right, but it helps us to become understanding and non-judgemental. Right?


      • mitchteemley says:

        Indeed, Jennie! And learning to be non-judgmental is immensely important (Matthew 7:1). In fact, I’m currently working on a blog about that very subject.


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