Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 10.08.05
Stanstead, Quebec


School advice for my youngest daughter

Dear Abby,

I should have prepared this for you last year when you started kindergarten but you know how things are. It gets hectic, what with work, all those back-to-school chores to do, and the weight training for my upcoming wrestling championship.

Besides, kindergarten isn't really school, is it? "Kindergarten" is a German word meaning "kind of like a garden," which, as you know from Mom and Dad's garden at home, is disorganized, barely monitored, and kind of smelly. Just like kindergarten! See how that works? That's called a metaphor. Isn't your Daddy smart?

Or maybe it's a simile.

Anyway, that's the kind of stuff they'll teach you now that you're entering Grade 1. This is real school now, with homework and everything. So I thought I'd offer some tips and observations to help you get through the next several years of your life.

Your teacher doesn't actually live at school. There may come a point when you will be out somewhere, maybe a mall, and you'll see your teacher out among the general population like a Real Person. This will come to you as a bit of a shock. But it's true.

Many teachers are just like real grownups. You should also know that your teacher might smoke, have children, and engage in other disgusting habits.

Do as your teacher says. But question everything. Except what Mom and Dad say. Because we said so. You'll figure it out. Maybe.

There may come a day when a boy who really likes you will give you a bracelet of beads he has painstakingly made himself in the hopes that you will love him back or hold his hand at recess, whichever comes first. Accept this gift with gratitude, and though you will not return his eternal love, forever cherish the memory this kind gesture.

Am I right, Clare O'Reilly of Hillview Street with the pigtails just so?

In regards to the above, do not accept any marriage proposals until at least Grade 3.

You will accidentally call your teacher "Mom."

When faced with a new three-ring binder, you will undergo a struggle between keeping the vinyl cover in pristine condition and colouring on it. Resistance is futile. The Call of the Crayola is too strong. You will colour on your binder and immediately regret it. Such is life.

Speaking of universal laws, it is a fact that in every classroom, at least one child will spontaneously throw up at some point during the school year. That child may be you. It's like winning the lottery; you never know.

Your parents are not bad people if they don't attend every single pageant, open house, bake sale, car wash, sports event, school dance, etc.

Humiliation is character-building.

I don't care what they say, the principal is not your "pal."

Be on the lookout for that one teacher who will inspire you with the thrill of learning. You will never forget this teacher. Hint: If your teacher sometimes shares peppermints kept tucked away in her desk drawer, she may be the one.

Never let the bastards get you down. But don't say "bastards."

That's about it.