Oh, yes. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the *#@&$! traffic is snarled with *&@%! parents who won't put their kids on school buses.
Another school year is underway, and this time we didn't even wait for classes to actually start before the cops had to be called. It seems a mom and step-mom got into a little catfight at Riverside Middle School's open house.
Their children must be so proud.
Each new school year brings nostalgia for our own. Like feet moving across old wooden floors, time wears away memory of the discomforts - none of our classrooms were air-conditioned, much less the school buses - and leaves the smooth, warm glow of pine paddles whacking our heineys.
Man, did I ever get a lot of paddlings as a kid. Nobody gets paddled any more; we don't want to damage any child's self-esteem, and we don't want to tangle with their lawyers, or moms, or step-moms.
But back in the day? I couldn't even get past first grade without Miss Margie smacking my hand with a ruler. And as the grade levels progressed, teacher armament grew like a corporal punishment arms race.
For example, Albert Long, a North Columbia Elementary teacher, swung a skinny paddle that looked like a cricket bat and felt like, well, a baseball bat.
Bernice Mason? God rest her soul, the last time I wrote about her, people thought I was kidding - except for those who actually had their heads "mauled" (her word) or their fannies slammed with either fist or paddle. Those Who Were There still talk about her in hushed, conspiratorial tones, usually reserved for former prisoners of war.
And we can't leave out Whit Blanchard. He's a local insurance salesman now, but 35 years or so ago he was a social studies teacher. The most important lesson he taught me was the meaning of "no good deed goes unpunished."
Back in sixth grade, I used to crack 'em up with a little gag I called "turning red." I'd hold my breath and, well, turn red. This was sophisticated physical humor for 11-year-olds.
Unfortunately, I held it a little too hard once and passed out. Having stepped out of the room, Mr. Blanchard returned just as a couple of chronic troublemakers weren't making trouble, but were instead being good Samaritans and helping me up off the floor.
The trial was quick and the hanging quicker. All three of us got whacked, and Mr. Blanchard swung so hard that he broke the paddle on one of the unfortunate Samaritans.
None of these experiences traumatized me, or hurt my self-esteem (other than temporarily). They did hurt my rear end, though tough kid that I was I wasn't about to show it.
But there was a fine line between not showing it and blowing it off. My classmates and I still recall the one kid who came in from the hallway after getting whacked by Miss Mason.
He saw us waiting for his reaction.
She saw it.
Faster than you could say "child abuse," she snatched him back out the door.
Several loud licks later, the boy returned with tears squeezing from the corners of his eyes, his jaw quivering and his legs stiff. After that, anyone getting a paddling from Miss Mason knew it was better to let other kids see your pain than to let her see you smile.
Well, those days are gone, mostly for good I suppose. Now we're more civilized, sending kids to "time out" or "detention," or making them (gasp!) have Silent Lunch.
Instead of schoolyard fights ending with a black eye and a paddling, they end with cops and assault warrants.
And heck - that's just the moms.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.