Ode to My Fifth Grade Math Teacher

Oh, long ago, there was a time;
When all to me seemed vast and fierce,
Confusing giants shook the ground
Their senseless grunts the sky did pierce.

The place: South School. The grade was fifth.
The day, the first; period third.
The empty room with kids was filled,
Yet still we were, such yarns we'd heard.

"Ms. Little they call her," an elder said.
"Believe it not. Nay, fear her, boy.
Her name should be Ms. Huge, Ms. Cruel—
Tormenting you will be her joy."

She bounded in, and quaked we did,
Colossal she was, as they'd said.
Across the board her hand did fly,
When she ceased, we spluttered, near dead.

To add we learned, division, too,
To multiply, also subtract.
Algebra, logic, integrals,
All on the first day, it's a fact.

When the class ended, smiled she did,
And for a time we wondered why.
She told us: "All of math advanced
You've learned without a tear to cry."

She continued: "For all the year,
We can now simply futz around,
Playing with all this stuff we know,
And proving new math, I'll be bound!"

She gave us each hugs, and beamed we did,
For we were exceedingly proud.
Ms. Huge, Ms. Cruel was wondrous, kind,
Of her we were entirely wowed.

Years passed. One day, returned I did,
To South School, the place of my youth.
Lo! To my aged eyes it seemed
The place had shrunk. I'd grown, in truth.

At just that moment, it did pass—
And caused within my throat a lump—
A friend of old my vision crossed,
Which sped my heart's once rhythmic pump.

Ms. Little came up to me, smiled,
And seizèd me with bearlike grip.
Her loving hug had dwindled not
To smallness, which the school did grip.

Through chokes of joy I asked of her
Something I'd wondered many years.
I asked her then why, long ago,
Of her that child had had such fears.

Her secret told me then she did,
Why we had been so grimly warned:
"'Twas propaganda on my part.
By fearful students I'm not scorned!

"Can you imagine on that day,
The first of yours in my math class,
If you had not been warned of me?
You would have laughed right then, en masse!"

I pondered this, and then I said,
"Ms. Little, you are a jackal.
If we had not to you listened?"
To this she voiced a calm cackle.

So children far and wide, be warned,
When you're around about fifth grade:
A teacher, lovable and great,
Is dangerous when not obeyed.

[Home] [Index]