Dear Miss Fritz,
I’m sorry you’re still in hospital and you think it’s my fault. You’ll probably miss celebrating this Christmas, 1959. And while you’re lying in there, all swollen up like a beached whale and feeling miserable, us kids in your class will be doing heaps of fun stuff over the Christmas holidays. I asked my Dad to write you this letter to explain what happened and he’s writing my words because I’m only seven years old and can’t write good yet.
When you caught Ross, Russell, Colin and me down in the bottom playground at lunchtime with our pants down, Miss Fritz, we were only having a competition to see who could pee the highest up the paling fence. I was winning when you caught us. We weren’t looking at each other’s willies like you said we were, but we said sorry to you. And then the bell rang to line up and march back into class.
And when we were all sitting down in our rows of desks, you told the four of us to come out and stand in front of the class. And you told the rest of the class what we’d done. We didn’t look at the kids, we looked at the floor. And you gave each of us a slap on the back of the legs, then you told our class that we enjoyed pulling our pants down at school, so you’d do that to us. You walked along behind us and whipped down our shorts. The rest of the class roared with laughter. I was third in line and the kids were cacking themselves when they saw me standing there in the coloured, patterned undies Mum had made for me. Ross and Colin were lucky because they had white undies from a shop, but we stood there, heads down, shorts around our ankles, and we felt silly.
And when you pulled Russell’s pants down, I guess you didn’t know he wasn’t wearing underpants. That’s when the class erupted in laughter. Barefooted Russell burst into tears, started shaking and peed on the classroom floor. You yelled at us to pull up our pants which we did really fast. And then Russell, still bawling, ran across to your desk and grabbed your grey cardigan off the back of your chair. He tossed it angrily out the 2nd storey window onto the playground, ran down the stairs, crossed the playground and raced down the street towards his house.
I hope you’re not feeling too uncomfortable in hospital remembering all of this Miss Fritz. But what happened next wasn’t my fault. I was doing the right thing, trying hard to make up for being one of the “bad boys who showed their willies” like you said. When you told me to go downstairs to the playground to get your cardigan, I was pleased to help you. Your cardigan had landed on the concrete next to the crates of empty and partly empty bottles of flavoured milk we’d had at playtime. Some still had straws hanging out, some were open with strawberry milk left in them. But we all know that wasps like sweet foods, Miss Fritz, and there were some sitting on the tops of the opened flavoured milk bottles, so I tried to shoo them away. In the end, I threw your cardigan across the tops of the milk bottles to stop them getting in. And then your head appeared out the window upstairs and you roused at me again, told me to “stop loitering.” I grabbed the cardigan, gave it a quick shake and watched a few wasps fly off. They looked angry, and I didn’t want to get stung, so I bundled up your cardigan into a ball and ran back to our classroom as fast as my skinny little legs would go!
We’d just started our first handwriting lesson using pens with nibs, inkwells and blotting paper. That’s really special for 2nd grade kids. I won’t forget it because suddenly you screamed hysterically in front of the class and started jumping up and down, slapping at your neck and back. We were really scared. What was happening to Miss Fritz? Had she been shot? Had Russell come back to school with his shanghai and got her a good one through the window?
I didn’t notice you putting on your cardigan, Miss Fritz, because I was working really hard with my pen and blotter exercise. I like to please you. Dad says you had “an allergic reaction to multiple wasp stings” whatever that means. I hope you stop looking like a bloated whale soon, and they let you out of hospital while there’s still some of the school holidays left. Maybe 1960 will be a better year for you.
From your favourite pupil,