Friday, October 29, 2010

Boiled Peanuts

This summer when we were in South Carolina, we saw lots of signs for boiled peanuts.We are curious Yankees to be sure, but what with all the other great food--the shrimp and grits, the grouper, the benne wafers, the corn on the cob, the peaches, and the tomato pie-- we never got around to sampling that regional snack. Too soon, the vacation was over and it was back to work.

Before I got my full time teaching position I spent several months as a substitute, and I can tell you from experience that it's not an easy job. I don't think that's news to anyone-- remember how in elementary school even the mildest mannered classmates turn into their worst Dr. Jekyll selves whenever the teacher was out? That hasn't changed.

As a teacher, I appreciate a reliable sub, someone who can manage the students reasonably well and who will follow the plans I have taken the time to prepare. That happens less frequently than you might think, but over the years there have been a few regulars in the school and on the team who have become almost like colleagues. Most of them are retirees who do it for both the experience of working with kids and the small supplement to their pensions.

Such is the case of Mr. F, a retired soldier and foreign service officer who has been working in our school for at least 15 years. A father and grandfather who has lived all over the world, he believes he is well-suited for our diverse population of adolescents, but his notions about education are old-fashioned, and his approach to discipline is out-dated. I think both are a little too paternalistic to be effective. The kids usually say he's too old and too strict.

Still, you can't be too choosy when it comes to substitute teachers, and in my mind, his familiarity with the school and with my class make him a good choice for the job. Others may disagree, but if there's anyone better and more reliable, we haven't found him or her, yet. Plus today? He brought me some boiled peanuts that he made himself. That's my kind of guy.


  1. I stopped at one of those boiled peanut trucks while traveling through S. Carolina...I am not a fan, but how nice of Mr. F. to make some for you.

  2. I think they taste a little like edamame.