Last week was Catholic Schools Week. Being a product of Catholic schools, I’m well aware of all the horror stories and clichés. If you believed everything you heard or read, you’d imagine my school days consisted of daily knuckle rapping and uniform skirt measuring. Sorry to disappoint you, folks, but the scariest thing I ever saw a nun do was stick used tissues up her sleeves.
So instead of making up some crazy stories so I can appear heroic for “surviving” my school days, I thought I’d share some of my very favorite nun memories.
First of all there was Sister Joanne, my first grade teacher. Every once in a while she would sneak off to the cloak room and emerge a few minutes later in full clown garb. She’d then walk around the room doing an entire silent clown act, sometimes dispensing M&M’s. When her act was done, she’d disappear again, change back into her nun gear, then breathlessly run back into the room and ask us, “Did anyone see a clown in here?” We did what any first graders would do; we laughed like it was the most hilarious thing we’d ever seen. That gig never got old.
In sixth grade I was introduced to my first modern nun. That is, she did not wear any sort of nun uniform, and she confessed that when she was in high school she was totally boy crazy. Shocking stuff to my twelve-year-old self. Once spring came around she would wear polyester pant suits in Easter egg colors. She fiercely believed in diagramming sentences and proper handwriting. However my favorite memory is that she did something called “taking our temperature”. Every morning we’d go around the room and tell the class how we felt that day. Were we sad? Tired? Happy? It gave us an outlet for our feelings while simultaneously letting her know if she needed to tread lightly on our preteen hormones that day.
Last but not least was my high school art teacher, Sister Martha Jean. She wore a not-so-subtle short black wig, and urban legend has it that one day some naughty boys (no doubt fed up with her nagging perfectionism) had some hair-brained scheme to snatch that wig right off her head. Apparently they suspended a small hook with fishing wire from the ceiling, and their plan went off without a hitch. She wasn’t all that bad, though. After all, she let us listen to the radio while we worked on our art projects.
So there you have it: my shocking exposé of Catholic school life. Not quite juicy enough to be made into a Lifetime movie, but that’s just fine with me.