You have heard of the devastation caused by “hundred year” floods, well Robb Redd was a “100 year” student.
Robb Redd(not his real name I have trouble even writing it and I have changed the name to protect the guilty) was the type of child that thankfully used to only drop into your classroom once every 10 to 20 years or so, although I am certain that the frequency of children of his ilk has probably increased since then.
He was not mean or vicious but rather incredibly sneaky, clever and unceasingly lazy. He was put in my room after the first quarter of the year because the elementary school principal thought he needed a male influence in his life( I can’t tell you how many times that snake has bitten me)… In less than one year Robb taught me a true appreciation for my own children and nearly everyone else’s as well. To say that Robb was lazy was woefully inadequate; to say that he was spoiled rotten was a severe understatement. To say he was sneaky was to put rats in a good light.
As teachers used to do, I counseled Robb’s mom that he needed discipline and responsibility and asked how she reacted at home when he misbehaved or more frequently “didn’t behave in any way at all.” She told me she sent him to his room but that she didn’t think that was effective because he was always more than willing to go. Further research provided by the students in my room found that Rob had a TV, stocked refrigerator, and stereo in his room, no video games or computer but I am sure only because they hadn’t been invented yet.
In retrospect, rather stupidly, I suggested a paper route which she agreed might teach him some responsibility. Paper-routes back then were 3 to 4 hour a day jobs delivering both the morning and evening edition. It was real work, required daily attention, was demanding and time-consuming. And I thought(possibly vengefully) just the thing for Rob. …Rob got his paper route and mom later told me that she was pleased with the results. It was only later that year that the other kids in the class told me that mom was delivering the papers and Robb’s only exercise was in collecting the money.
Robb in his own softly stubborn way refused to take part in almost everything. When the annual track and field day sign up occurred he was adamant that we wasn’t doing anything, The rule was two events for each child so I signed him up for the discus and the shot put thinking that would require the least time and effort and he could spend most of his time sitting down. And neither event involved running or jumping. Two things I had never see him do. He didn’t do too well during the events but he did consume two of the little plastic flags that were strung on a string around one of the events. Eating the flags in a fit of enthusiastic chewing that was the most exercise he had probably had in months so in the spirit of exercise and track and field day I demurred. I believe he ate a green and a yellow flag but my memory may be fading about that.
As to his participation in the discus and the shot put, the shot put went well … about 2 feet and some change and the discus nearly killed me as he let it go backwards, perhaps on purpose…. Given 360 degrees of possibility that fact that it nearly hit me in the head seems interesting…although that amount of accuracy as part of a physical exertion by Robb was probably unlikely.
15 years later my whole life flashed in front of my eyes when I accidentally ran a red light and saw a car bearing down on me horn blaring and breaks screeching and tires squealing, all sounds I might have associated with Rob if I had time to think. The accident was avoided with the car sliding to halt next to my driver’s side door, but the memory of Robb’s face looking at me through the windshield has stayed with me forever…. I am sure that in a stroke of pure serendipity he had just not recognized me in time to finish me off.