If the benign “kick me” sign is suddenly an egregious offense, I’m assuming the ol’ “thumb-tack-on-a-chair” is waaay out of bounds. That’s just sad, because in my Leave-it-to-Beaver day, slipping a thumbtack onto an unsuspecting …
I heard recently on my favorite FOX News show, Redeye (which you normal folk retire far too early to ever enjoy) that a junior high student was suspended for sticking a “kick me” sign on a fellow classmate’s back. Is that what it’s come to? Are the P.C. Police so overly-vigilant that the cutest, most classic school pranks are grounds for dismissal? What does that say about us as a society!
If the benign “kick me” sign is suddenly an egregious offense, I’m assuming the ol’ “thumb-tack-on-a-chair” is waaay out of bounds. That’s just sad, because in my Leave-it-to-Beaver day, slipping a thumbtack onto an unsuspecting kid’s chair was as commonplace as secretly hunching on all fours behind a boy while the lead prankster nudges him backwards.
We didn’t think of it as bullying, because it was nearly always done by a friend to a friend. It was all good fun, and no one got hurt. And those tacks were only about a quarter-inch in length — enough to good-naturedly penetrate one’s skin, but not to ever draw blood. A box of tacks? Less than a dollar. The sight of yelping lad leaping in the general direction of the ceiling? Priceless.
I was reminded of that harmless fun about 10 years ago when the Bloughs were having a Sunday meal at my nephew Jay and his wife Cindy’s house. My always-bubbly brother Paul was yapping and ladling another helping of goulash from the stove and I just happened to be watching him from the couch, via the opening in the wall between the kitchen and living room.
To my surprised delight, I witnessed Paul — eyes widened by confusion and brief pain — suddenly scream, “Yeeowww!” (or something similar) while lurching violently forward and upwards. My great-nephew Trey — and I never loved him more than at that moment — had snuck up and bitten my brother full on the keester.
Within minutes of the initial shock and awe, Paul was recovered nicely, his plate was refilled, and he’d accepted the gesture in the good nature it was intended. The entire glorious incident was made even funnier when Paul said, “Boy, he really chewed my ass!” Thus when Trey was taken aside and scolded harshly for the sneak-attack from the rear, I came to the boy’s defense.
There are times when a child deserves reproach, but in this case, I thought it was unwarranted. He left the entire family with a golden memory still reminisced about today, and the bite marks were surely gone before the sun set the next day. And really, what could be cuter than a 4-year-old biting his uncle’s backside? Very little, I contend.
The idea is to inflict pain that only lasts for a moment. Anything more, and you’ve crossed that line between funny and mean.
The whole world loves seeing someone step on a rake and get cracked on the noggin with the handle. But purposely sinking an axe into someone’s head is a different story altogether. That’s just plain mean, rather than funny.
Another old favorite from my formative years was lying in wait for a classmate assigned to chair directly in front — then using an extended tippy-toe to slide the chair out from under him. The result was always the same: a hilarious thud onto the floor and a burst of delight from an entire classroom that only minutes earlier was filled with anxiety over a pop quiz. School-day stress was instantly relieved, if only for a few moments.
“But someone could get hurt,” you say? Puleease! Drunkards and children are always protected from what would break the bones of a normal adult. Heck, our bones were so strong and resilient at that age (of course, we were served white milk with our school lunches instead of Dr. Pepper), we could have fallen from a helicopter and gotten up grinning.
Shooting spitballs through a pen barrel onto the blackboard was good fun, but a little unimaginative and trite. And again, that was a day when spit was clean and we thought STD meant sending Valentines flowers. Our spit was so clean, you could eat off of it.
But, to be on the safe side, kids, better not try any of these pranks at home or in school. Times have changed. And don’t even think about sneaking up on a teacher and leaving your teeth marks; that’s only cute and recommended for children 6 and under.