Many years ago, when my mother taught ninth grade English (Yeah, it was so long ago that the subject was called English instead of Language Arts), she came home with a doozy of a story.
First, you need to know that Mom was kind of a tough teacher. And when I say “kind of”, I mean “a lot.” She didn’t put up with much foolishness in the classroom, but still, she was a good and fair teacher. That year’s class had been a challenging one due to one particular student. A student whom Mom had had more than one go-round with. I mean, this kid had been sent to the principal’s office more than once.
So you can imagine my mom’s surprise when, with just a day or two left in the school year, this kid brings her a taped up, shirt-sized gift box to say thanks. Mom choked out a thanks in return and much to the student’s disappointment, said, “I’ll open this later. We have work to do.”
She had no intention of opening that gift. The minute classes ended for the day, Mom marched down to the principal’s office and explained the situation. The principal took the box from her.
“What do you think it is, Ms. Crider?”
“I shook it,” said my mom. “And whatever’s in there moves back and forth. I think it might be…well, I think it’s a snake.”
“A snake!” The principal shook the box and sure enough, something moved back and forth. “Let’s take this box outside.”
The two of them went out to the parking lot, the whole time Mom fussing about this student and how he probably wanted to get back at her. Ninth graders, after all, don’t always think things through. Even so, she didn’t want him to get in any more trouble. “Let’s just open this box and be done with it,” said Mom.
So the principal carefully peeled back the tape and coaxed the lid almost off. “Stand back,” he said. And in one fell swoop he yanked off the lid and threw the box across the parking lot so the snake could slither away.
But it was not a snake.
It was a cupcake.
And a disgusting cupcake at that, after rolling across the parking lot and into the grass.
Oh my word, I laughed so hard, my sides hurt. Mom laughed pretty hard, too. The kid did get back at her, but not in any way he could’ve imagined.
I wrote a children’s story called, “Snake in the Box!” and it was partly based on that true story. It’s a favorite of mine, and though I submitted it to several kidlit magazines, it just didn’t sell.
Until a few days ago when I heard from an editor in China who wanted the story. I’d sent it to her almost a year ago, and honestly, I’d completely forgotten about “Snake in the Box.” But now, I suppose, Chinese students will get to read it.
I’m not so sure they’ll get the humor.
OMG! You are a writer of international fame! (But perhaps this is not the first time an editor from another country snapped up your work?)
Your story about your mom is so funny. I hope that someday it ends up in a collection we could find on THIS continent. 😉
You never know, Sioux. Maybe Chicken Soup for the Soul’s When Teachers Go Crazy. 🙂
YAY!!! Congrats, Cathy! That is a great story!
Oh, thanks, Kelly! I STILL laugh every time I think of her making the principal open the box! Hahahaha!
Cathy that is so exciting. I am sure you and your mom could collaborate on a book. So happy for you. Had you submitted to a foreign market?
Well, Mom would have to collaborate from the Great Beyond now, Linda! (But I’m pretty sure she’s busy, sending prayers and inspiration my way every day.)
I’d submitted to this market–in the last year, it underwent a ton of changes–so that’s why it had been so long of a response time.
Way to go! Now Chinese students can take questionable gifts to Chinese teachers! You are a fantastic ambassador.
I teach freshmen. Nobody ever brought ME a snake in a box. 😦
One did, however, bring me a baggie containing a deer scent gland, and asked me to dissect it for the class. I didn’t know what it was, but I knew better than to dissect it. After school he came to see what I thought about it, and confessed what it was. Thanks, Jason from 26 years ago!
A girl brought a box of cupcakes to the teacher lunch table, explaining that she made them for us. They had the letter ‘B’ on them except for one, marked with a ‘K’. She emphasized that it was for a particular teacher. We all declined.
Ah, freshmen–gotta love ’em, right, Val? Hahahaha!
As for being a great ambassador…I do what I can. 🙂
What a fabulous story, Cathy! Thanks for sharing it. I needed a little smile today and you made me LOL. I’m so happy for you that your story will be published — yay! — and in China, no less! So cool for you to know that halfway around the world your words will be touching lives. I’ve received letters about my stories from Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and several from Russia, and they absolutely make my day. Congratulations!! Your momma will be proud 🙂
Oh, thank you, Theresa, for helping me to see so much more in that story than I realized!
And I do hope my momma’s proud–the best in me came from her, I’m sure!
First, congratulations on selling that story! I’m surprised no one snapped it up sooner, because the real story is hilarious, so I imagine your fictional rendition is also funny as all get out. Glad it found a home. 🙂 That box may have only contained a cupcake, but your mother clearly was a smart lady. And who knows what may have been baked into that cupcake? Probably best she didn’t find out!
Yes, I’d like to think that student grew to truly like and respect my mom.
I’d LIKE to think that, but I don’t–who knows what was in that cupcake??? 🙂
Congrats, Cathy! That is too funny! Would be wonderful for some sort of teachers’ magazine. 🙂
Thanks, Madeline, and thanks for the tip…a teacher’s magazine…hmmm. 🙂
Congratulations. So happy for you. What a wonderful story. Your momma must have been a wonderful teacher. I bet she would be so proud that your story is getting published.
Thanks, Donna–she actually was an excellent teacher. Hard to believe but I miss her grammar corrections. 🙂
Oh, how funny! Congrats on the sale!
What a great story! I still think your mom did the right thing…the kid probably did something nasty to the cupcake. And congratulations on selling your nearly-forgotten story! That’s my kind of great surprise. 🙂
Mine, too, Deb–it’s free money! Yayyyy! 🙂
Sounds like an O’Henry story with that crazy twist.
Oh, Suebe, O. Henry’s one of my favorites–Mom would love that!