Monday, February 07, 2011

I'm Not Going Inside

Growing up without a dad had its advantages…so I thought. My mom and I moved to New Jersey from New Mexico when I was just a few months old to live with my grandma. I grew up in a house full of women the first five years of my life. I was spoiled. I was the first grandchild, the first of a new generation. I would always draw attention to myself, whether in the silly ways of impersonating Michael Knight, or in the stubborn ways of refusing to take off my socks for days on end. When I messed up all I had to do was say something cute, play innocent or throw a tantrum and I would get my way whenever I wanted. Discipline was not something I knew as a young boy.

Fast forward. It’s the perfect day for every five-year old’s favorite time at El Dorado Elementary School: recess. The sky is cloudless, deep blue. The playground right outside our classroom is all dirt since there’s really only one patch of grass in all of New Mexico. As a five-year old the playground is as big as a football field and the monkey bars are a mile long. I am determined to get all the way across them without falling, just to prove to my fellow kindergartners I am already a man ready for the army.

Halfway across the bars, I hear the teacher calling us in. “It hasn’t already been 15 minutes!” I scream to myself. Everyone else, fooled by the teacher's obvious, vicious lie, quickly runs toward her, each going inside for the next activity. I know better. I have more time. I need more time. 

Then it begins.

“Andrew, it’s time to go inside,” the teacher yells. I’m the only one left.

“I’m not going inside,” I exclaim with pride now down off the bars, standing face toward her, arms tense at my side.

“Andrew, it’s really time to go inside,” she replies, challenging my right to still play.

“No. I’m not going inside” I say, calling her bluff.

With her arms crossed, head fuming, she tells me one final time, “Andrew, if you don’t come inside now I’m sending you to the principal’s office.”

I’m not used to this. I always get my way. This was new. What could I do but listen? “I can’t lose this battle” I thought. What can I do? Who does she think she is? 

To this day what I did next doesn’t make sense to me for any five-year old, but it happened and I can’t take it back. I have to tell it like it is.

I stand there, defiant like a pit-bull unwilling to release the clench I have on my prey, and proceed to take my faux-leather belt off my little boy jeans. I folded it, end and buckle in hand raised over my head. My eyes stare her down. She knows my threat. Still, I faintly hear the Western music in the background and imagine the tumbleweeds bounce between us. Then, as if filled with a thousands lions, I roar in assumed triumph, “I’M NOT GOING INSIDE!!!!!!!!!”

My teacher doesn’t know what to do. Honestly, I don’t remember what happened immediately after that. Maybe I blacked out due to the sheer ecstasy of victory . However, the next thing I remember, I’m sitting in Principal Garcia’s office. Two images are vivid: his thick moustache and his even thicker paddle.

That was the first time I was disciplined by a man

By His Grace.


  1. Lisi,
    This is a hilarious story. What is even funnier to me is that photo of you because you look exactly the same! Thanks for this post!

  2. Carly,
    Thanks for the feedback. I really appreciate it. I know - I look the same and I think I only grew a few more inches since that pic. If you aren't already, start following my blog. Zing!

  3. Bro, this is hilarious and intense. Thanks for posting.

  4. Jimmy - thanks brother!

  5. Andrew...I don't even know what to say... thanks for sharing. A whole new glimpse of you.

  6. Lauren,
    Speechlessness can sometimes be a good thing:) Thanks for reading!