I was raised in what some would think a very sheltered way. Born in the 1950’s to parents well into their forties, with siblings decades older than myself, I wasn’t exposed to a lot of things other kids were. I remember once, after having moved across the state on my ninth birthday, my mother and I were going for a walk with cousins and they said a word I had never heard before. Thankfully, I waited till my mother and I were alone before asking what that four letter word that started with an F was. I say thankfully, because my cousin, who soon became my very best friend, would have never let me live it down if she would have heard I did not know the common word for passing gas!
I have to say though, bad language was not a common thing in those days in my small town. I don’t remember much of it anyway. But as I entered my older teenage years, I was around more and more people from surrounding towns and heard quite a bit more colorful language, and of course started using some of it myself. One day in my Senior year, in composition class taught by one of my favorite teachers, Mrs. Noble was trying to get us to understand how to put emotion into our writing. She said, “Think about when you are sound asleep, warm and toasty in your bed, and your Mom comes in and switches on the light and says, “It’s time to get up!” I turned to one of my friends in what I thought was a quiet voice and said “Oh Man, that p _ _ _es me off when she does that!” Mrs. Noble, immediately and vehemently demanded, “Who said that? Beth! (the name has been changed to protect the innocent) Out in the hall!” I knew I couldn’t let “Beth” take what I had coming, so I said “It was me” Mrs. Noble just looked at me for what seemed like forever, then quietly said, “Norma, out in the hall.” Up and out I went, standing by the door, waiting for I wasn’t sure what. After about 10 minutes, Mrs Noble came out and I steeled myself for the lecture I knew was coming. She didn’t yell, she didn’t lecture, she just quietly said, “Norma, I can’t even begin to tell you how disappointed I am in you. I would have expected that out of “Beth” but never out of you. I think of you as a lady and it just really hurt to hear that kind of language come out of your mouth.” I don’t remember how I responded or what happened next but I can tell you her words had a profound effect on me. I have never forgotten them. I’m not going to say another coarse word was never uttered from my mouth, but if one ever did, I remembered Mrs. Noble’s words and quickly felt ashamed of myself.
I am so very grateful in this day of seven cuss words in every sentence for the lesson she taught me. When ever my husband is around a woman who has horrible language he will comment, “I sure am glad my wife doesn’t talk like that.” I always tell him, “You have not only my parents, but Mrs. Noble to thank for that!” And Mrs. Noble, if you happen to read this, I like to think your few short sentences that day are still changing lives, because I did my best to teach my children to watch their language and I know they are doing their best to teach theirs the same thing. I know this is an extremely old-fashioned and some would think fuddy-duddy post. But in this school-year beginning, I just wanted to thank a teacher who I feel made a difference in my life and remind all the teachers out there, how much of a role they can play in their young students lives. More than you’d ever imagine!