The Lost Crumb


Have I told you what a model student I was in primary school? The sort of sickeningly studious elder sibling who brings homes report after report with straight As all the way down the left-hand column, setting a bar that other siblings will resent for years to come.

Right through school from prep through to year 10, the only infraction I was ever in trouble for at school was for talking, or, more often, for laughing.

It’s a funny thing to recall, pun intended. It makes me sound like a very happy child, doesn’t it. Whether I was happy or not, I had a propensity to giggle at anything that struck me as absurd. The trouble with giggling is that if someone else starts giggling as well, it is utterly infectious, and, as a child and even into my early teens, it was illustrated on more than one occasion that once we started up, I, at least, couldn’t stop, no matter how severely a teacher was glaring at me.

It’s funny, too – pun intended again – that although so many details from my school days so many decades ago have vanished into the ether of time, I can recall quite clearly two of the incidents that caused me to dissolve in a fit of giggling and consequently be in trouble.

One was in grade three, so I must have been about eight. We had a combined grade 3-4 class, and the teacher often got the whole class to read a book, or chapter, together, by going around the entire room with each student, in turn, reading a paragraph while the rest were expected to be following along on the page.

I was a pretty proficient reader for my age, but of course in any class there are kids at all levels, and it happened that in this small country school, some of the older boys in grade 4 who were tough and sometimes threatening out in the school yard, really struggled with reading. One of those boys – I think it was Peter C – was struggling through a passage where a rooster said “cock-a-doodle-doo!” Tripping over as he sounded out words, he mis-quoted the rooster, and delivered instead, in the expressionless monotone of someone who finds reading challenging and uninteresting, “coodle-doodle-doo.”

Well, that was it for me. The nonsensical silliness of that unintended phrase, and probably also, the juxtaposition of hearing it uttered under duress by one of the older boys in a bland monotone, set me off. I started giggling. I was sitting next to a pretty impressionable girl my age, so she started giggling too. We both giggled, as quietly as possible, as the next few kids read through their passage, but giggling infectiously has a way of becoming hard to control. I don’t recall if the reading made it all the way around the room to us before we were caught out but I do recall that a ruler came slamming down on my hand, bringing a very abrupt end to my giggles.

The other time when I can still recall the cause, it was again, a mistaken phrase. On this occasion, I was in Grade 6, and busy talking to the kids who sat near me, while I worked laboriously on a decorative heading for my workbook. I attended a Catholic primary school, and perhaps this was for the religion class, because the heading I was so intensely working away at was supposed to read, “The Lost Sheep.”

All the girls in grade 6 prided ourselves on a particular style of heading we would do on all our work. It involved coloured pencils, and drawing large block letters which we then put shading behind to make them appear to be three-dimensional. The next step was to colour them in, but not merely by colouring in the whole letter one colour, no, we would colour them in by drawing stripes of colour inside the letters. I hope you can gather that this process took up a lot of time.

So anyway, there I was, chatting with the kids sitting near me as we worked, and doing my heading. I finished it and then looked at it again, and broke out giggling. The giggles turned to crying with laughter, and when the teacher told me sternly to stop, I couldn’t. It must have been an even bigger surprise to the teacher than it was to me, that she should have to reprimand one of her model students, but I couldn’t stop laughing even when threatened, so she made me stand at the back of the room. I stood there and cried with laughter to think that I’d spent so much time and effort on drawing, shading and colouring-in – in various coloured stripes – a heading that said – I assume because of a word uttered at the wrong moment as I chatted with my friends – “THE LOST CRUMB.”







via Daily Prompt: Crumb

Leave a comment


  1. Did I miss the pun or did your spellcheck change the word funny automatically?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s a good story which made me laugh too. What a pity the teacher couldn’t see the funny side of it too but I suppose teachers, having a classroom full of fractious kids to control, have to maintain seriousness. I was a school teacher myself for a year before being whisked away to become a university lecturer, and I never did quite get the hang of classroon disclipine.

    I can identify with the slow readers because the early part of my education was somewhat chequered by my mother frequently moving me from school to school (her intentions were of the best but the results disastrous). At one school I was one reading book behind everyone else in the class and when we were told to get on with our reading, I would open the book in the desk and take it out open so that my neighbours would not see the cover and mock me for being a book behind.

    On one occasion I was called on to read aloud. It was the beginning of a story and I stared at the title trying to make sense of it. At last I boldly declaimed “Cabin Soap”.

    “Don’t be silly,” said the teacher. “It’s Cabbage Soup”. The memory of that event had me curling up in embarrasdment for years afterwards.

    I wonder whether your classmate still remembers his “coodle-doodle-doo” and the mirth it caused. If he does remember it, I hope it is now with a smile of amusement.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I hope so too. I hope you’ve never again confused cabin soap for cabbage soup! Your story just goes to show that being a slow reader as a child need not stop someone from having an intellectual curiosity about the world and a love of writing (&I assume, reading), enough to make you write your own blog and voluntarily read others’ blogs!



Blather away!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: