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During the grade school years I was known by teachers, administrators, parents, and even doctors to be a bit of a handful (see Little Heathens for specifics). Even though whippings in school were common back in those simpler times, when it came to me and discipline, whippings weren’t always the answer. Most teachers, while trying to teach all of the other thirty students in class, found that they had to spend an inordinate amount of time keeping an eye on me. When an assignment was given I was focused and quiet, but once the project was completed, and I had a tendency to complete my work at a rapid pace, unlike most other kids I would not sit still and quietly wait for further instructions. No, I was more interested in finding out what was going on with all those around me. As a result, I spent many an hour by the teacher’s desk, out in the hall, or quarantined in the walk-in coat closet. One day the teachers had a huddle.

School was over for the day, but the conversation in the faculty lounge was just beginning to heat up. My home room teacher, Miss Smalley, was in a foul mood and seemed distraught. The music teacher noticed her demeanor and inquired, “What’s wrong Karen? You seem upset.”

“I just don’t have an answer for one of my students.”

“What’s the problem?”

“I have to spend most of my time disciplining this little boy and it takes me away from the other students. He can’t sit still; he constantly bothers the other kids. I’ve sent him out in the hall, but then I have to constantly check on him. No telling what he’ll do out there alone. I’ve had him sit next to my desk so I can keep an eye on him and then I catch him looking up my skirt. I’ve banished him to the coat closet during nap time and instead of napping he goes through all the other kids’ personal belongings and then harasses the kids trying to nap nearest the closet. I have him stand next to me when I take the kids to and from class, but he gets distracted by the other kids in line and then I have to stop the line and jerk him around and refocus him. He gets in fights on the playground. I just don’t know what to do Doris!”

“Who is this boy? Maybe I can help. Maybe I’ve had him in class.”

“His name is Ronnie…”

Miss Mitchell rolls her eyes and interrupts. “I know him. I don’t have too much trouble with him. He seems to like music and singing. It’s funny; when the music plays he seems calm, but once it stops, he’s on to pestering the other kids. He likes to sing, although he sings at such a volume that it’s hard to hear the other kids. I haven’t had to send him out of the class, but I do have to keep an eye on him.”

Mr. Allen, the gym teacher, has been listening to the conversation and decides to add his two cents. “Ronnie’s not a bad boy, well not in the ‘I think he’s a candidate for prison’ sense anyway. He has a lot of energy and as long as we are involved in some physical activity, he’s pretty malleable. He does have a tendency to be over aggressive, which leads to the other kids being bumped and bruised during some of the activities, but for the most part I can control him. Have you ever thought of giving him something to do? Something out of the normal routine?”

Miss Smalley sits and thinks for a moment. “I see both of your points. Keep him busy and focused and he can be contained; with little or minimal collateral damage. But how? I don’t have sporting equipment in class, or a piano for that matter. What can I have him do?” Thinking for a few more minutes, Miss Smalley’s face lights up and she exclaims, “I’ve got it. I know what I’ll do with him. He can be the Milk Monitor!”

The following Monday morning Miss Smalley pulls me aside. “Ronnie, how would you like to be Milk Monitor? We have a sudden opening.”

Suspicious, I answer, “What happened to the other one?”

“Well, she developed some bursitis or pulled a muscle or something carrying the milk trays around. You shouldn’t have any trouble at all, being such a big and strong young man.”

I think about it for a moment and decide that it might be good to get up and mingle with the other kids during the morning break. “I’ll do it! What do I need to do?” She fills me in and I jump into my new assignment with gusto. It doesn’t take long for the teacher to realize that she may have made a mistake. Passing out a carton of milk seems like a relatively uncomplicated procedure, but I seem to run into a brief altercation at each table. The milk eventually arrives at its intended destination, but not without a few “disturbances” to distract the rest of the class. “Miss Smalley, Ronnie opened my carton of milk!” “Miss Smalley, I got chocolate and I was supposed to get white!” “Miss Smalley, I didn’t get any milk!” “Miss Smalley, Ronnie threw a milk carton at me!”

After only one week of distributing milk, the teacher approaches me privately. “Ronnie, Suzy is ready to resume her duties as Milk Monitor. You no longer need to pass out milk. I appreciate you filling in, but it is no longer necessary for you to help out.”

“I thought she had something wrong with her arm?”

“Well, it seems that a miracle has occurred. It’s as if she was never hurt.”

Although it didn’t last more than a week, I sure had fun being the Milk Monitor.