Third grade. Thanksgiving week. For a school project, the teacher had all the kids in class make paper turkeys. We used colored paper, and traced around patterns that she had provided, cut out the designs, and then assembled our “work of art.” Unknown to us, the project was to be graded.
At first, it would seem that everyone’s turkey would look the same. I mean, we all used the same pattern, and the same colored paper. But the end result was drastically different from student to student. Most of the finished projects did resemble a turkey - except for one kid. He thought it would be “better” if things were put together backwards. Instead of the feet at the bottom and feathers arranged around the top, his had them swapped. He told the teacher his was a dead turkey.
No, the kid wasn’t me, but his design did give me an idea. Before the teacher could check mine, I did some quick modifications. Using the scissors, I cut off all the feathers, the feet, and the head. All that remained was an almost round piece of brown paper. This is what I presented - a cooked turkey!
Needless to say, the teacher was not impressed by either of our jokes. And at lunch time, we got the privilege of making our turkeys again. And, we were told, we couldn’t go to recess before we’d finished.
The other kid went through the whole process again, tracing the patterns, cutting out all new parts from the colored paper and gluing them together. But me, I’ve always been in a hurry. Making a whole new turkey threatened to take up all of my time for lunch recess. So, I had a quick solution, I just glued the pieces I’d cut off back on - and didn’t even try to hide it, I glued them right on the front. Of course, my turkey was a little out of proportion and smaller than it had been. But the teacher hadn’t said it had to be perfect!
She never said a word about the way I’d fixed it, just told me to go ahead and go outside.
I should’ve known something was up.
Normally, any projects we made were taken home, but not the turkeys. The teacher kept them. A few weeks later, I found out why.
Open house. All the parents of the students and lots of other people showed up to walk through the classrooms and check out what the kids had been doing. And in my room? Yep, the turkeys we’d made were displayed - with our names in big bold letters. You could easily see where I’d cut everything off and glued it again. Obviously, the lady was trying to embarrass me! Okay, maybe she was trying to teach me a lesson, I don’t know.
But, I did know that I wasn’t going to let her win.
While she was busy talking to my parents, I took my turkey down, flipped it around, and taped it back on the wall. With the ugly cuts and splices now hidden, it didn’t look too bad. It was still smaller and looking the opposite direction than everybody else’s, but it did look like a turkey.
The next day the teacher handed out our turkeys for us to take home. Mine was not handed out. When I asked where it was, she said she was keeping it for a while and would return it later. Turns out, she’d discovered that two turkeys could be made from the same amount of paper if they were made just slightly smaller and she wanted to use my turkey for a pattern!
My grade? An “A!”