Second Grade. Underwear. Bells.

One day during the last week of school before this Winter Break, I was a TA Sub in a Second Grade classroom. My assignment for part of the morning was with a Math Group, with the Resource teacher doing the actual lesson, while I sat between two of the students who need the most help to stay on task.

We were working along swimmingly, with the subject being “partial Sums addition”.
I haven’t had to use the methods of “partial Sums addition” since Spring 2006 during my own studying in the Math for Elementary Teachers 102 class at the community college, but I managed to keep up. An old broad with an Associate’s Degree should be able to look fine to Second Grade students.

Then the Resource Teacher had to leave the room for a moment. We waited several seconds, then Second Graders do what most kids do, and began pestering each other.
I stood up, walked to the front, and picked up the marker.
Five little faces stared back at me.
“Do You know how to use the Smartboard?” asked one girl.

In response, I kept the addition problem going, right where the teacher had left off. They managed to get to the answer on their own writing boards, and the teacher returned soon enough, being quite grateful for my help.
Second Grade is hard, folks. No matter when you are in it.

That evening, I went to the store. There were some nice bargains going on, happening those few days before Christmas. I texted a friend saying that underwear should come in colors other than white, especially my size.
I did find a package, with only half the number being plain white.

On the way home, a song came on the radio. I’ll Be Home with Bells On
I think it’s done by Dolly Parton. You can look on You Tube, I’m sure it’s there.

Just as I took my foot off the gas to skim across the railroad tracks, a memory came back to me so strong that I almost pulled over into a parking lot.

It must have been the combination of Second Grade, purchase of new undies, and mention of bells.

I drove home the last couple blocks while the song finished, then sat in the car in the driveway letting the memory re-fill my brain.

It was just after Christmas break, when I was in Second Grade. That was the year that President John Kennedy was assasinated, and Second Grade was not the best of times in any case, let alone when all of our nation’s society was in a tizzy.

But Christmas had been good for me– I suppose I got some toys, and I remember new mittens, but most important for this story is the new underwear from my grandma.

Not regular undies or briefs. No, these were what Mom calls petti-pants.
Looking at Google Images, I would say they are close to bloomer leggings.

Back in my day, even in public school, we girls had to wear a dress or skirt to school.
I would wear lined corduroy pants under my dress, then take ’em off in the coat room. Our teacher would send in boys and girls separately to put away our cold weather gear, for the reason that we girls usually would show our undies in the process.
Modern Schools don’t have a coat area for each classroom. And everybody wears pants in cold weather (um, except for the girly girls).
Many teachers hang their own coats on the back of their chair, and the student cubbie can barely fit a backpack, and never boots.

So there’s my new petti-pants. Grandma had made them even more pretty by crocheting a little cotton lace border along the hem. And had worked in a little jingle bell. I had thought that was the neatest thing when I saw it Christmas day, having little bells to go under my skirt.
Second Grade high fashion, here comes Diane.

We worked at our seats in the room through much of the morning, then came time to walk in a line down the hall to the gym, or music…. someplace else in the building.
and yeah, That is still done the same way in Elementary School “My hands are by my side, I’m standing straight and tall, my mouth is very quiet, I’m ready for the hall” and keep to the right, and wait at the corner, and do not push through another class’s line.

I was about in the middle of our class line. And my little bells on my petti-pants were jingling oh so joyfully.

The Teacher’s hand came up as a signal for us to HALT.
She turned around and looked sternly at the boy who usually displayed bad behavior.
“Hand me the bell” she demanded, holding out her hand, palm up.
He was 2 kids in front of me in line, and looked completely bewildered.
“I don’t have a bell” he replied indignantly. She made him turn his pockets out.

I had gone to Sunday School all my life, but I did not ask Jesus to help me to speak up and be honest at that minute.
She harrummphed, turned and walked back to the lead position. We were going to be late to the next place, and probably cutting into her personal bathroom break time.

I tried to hold quiet the bells on my petti-pants through my dress, but that made it so hard to walk, and there was a bit of hurrying going on now, and well, they jingled.
We reached the door of the room, the teacher allowed the first students to pass in, then she saw me clutching and wrinkling my dress with my hands.
She pulled me out of the line. I could not ever remember little darling me ever being called out of line before, not at school.

“Diane, what is in your pocket?”
“My dress does not have pockets, m’am”
“Why are you holding it that way?”
“for the bells, m’am”
“Bells?”
Yes. I carefully lifted the hem of my dress, showing just the crocheted edge and jingle bells on the hem of my petti-pants.
“My grandma gave me bells for Christmas” I announced proudly. Second Grade girls just love cutesy stuff.

She straightened tall to her full height, which was about as tall as my mom,
who is to this day taller than I am.

“You are not to have bells at school. When you go home at lunch time, change into different underpants”

She might as well have slapped me. I would not be allowed to wear my new gift to where I spent so many hours every day.

At home, at lunch time, I changed into regular undies, and shoved the petti-pants between my bed and the wall.
A long time later, I pulled them out, cut off the bells, and wore the very comfy undies.
At some time doing the laundry, my mother noticed the bells had been cut, and the crochet lace was unraveling.

“Diane, why did you cut this? it’s ruined” yelled my mother.
“Teacher says I cain’t have bells at school” I yelled back. My misery was compounded by my mother yelling about my childish fix for the situation.
“well, you could have saved this pair for church. My mother worked hard to give you something nice for Christmas!”

My mother cannot crochet, and has no idea how easy it was for Grandma to use a hook and thread to make edging. I was just beginning to learn myself.

I no longer wanted the petti-pants for any reason. They got bunched up and wrinkled under corduroy pants, I had been motioned out of the line by the teacher, my mother was yelling.

I don’t think I ever put on those petti-pants again. With all the daughters at our house, I’m sure my mother lost track of them, either as hand-me-downs or rags.

But that memory came back to me last week.

Second Grade. Underwear. Bells.

On tv is a show about a woman who can remember everything. It’s based on some folks in real life who know all the details.
The rest of us, well, at least me, have little tidbits to open up the dam of memory.
I sat in the car in my driveway, turned off the radio, and remembered.

Be kind to the Second Grade kids in your surroundings.
They have only one life to live long and prosper.

~~love and Huggs, Diane

About MrsDOF

A gal with a kind heart. Married to a nice guy. Empty Nest. Part-time flexible job in the public school system. Loves to work with yarn.
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4 Responses to Second Grade. Underwear. Bells.

  1. Pammie says:

    Your memory of petti-pants brought back my very own memory: high school, bright yellow, lacy petti-pants a birthday gift from a close friend’s Mom. Add to that a wrap around skirt with a tie at the waist/walking down the halls during break between classes at LUNCHTIME – (busiest time). Strap on skirt breaks, skirt falls to the floor revealing the BRIGHT YELLOW LACY petti-pants for all to see! Total embarrassment; grabbed the skirt from the floor and ran to the bathroom to borrow safety pins to keep the skirt together for the rest of the school day. Loved the petti pants, hated the idea that EVERYONE got to see them! (blush)
    Hugs;
    Pammie

  2. momma says:

    What a fantastic but sad memory. Sad because a teacher made this delightful gift seem bad to a second grader. Sad also that Mom didn’t see your side of solving the problem making the confusion for you harder to bear. But overall your story was poignant, thoughtful, and refreshing. It was good that this series of events brought it back to you and better that you could share it with us.

  3. dkzody says:

    I well remember being a little school girl who got her feelings hurt so easily. I try always to be kind and gentle with small children because I figure they too have delicate hearts that easily break. Grownups seem to forget what it was like being a little kid who had to do whatever was asked of them, and be polite about it. They expect little kids to be so grownup, but they’re not.