Everyone lies. Even students. I am completely aware of this fact.
I know students will lie to me. I expect that it will happen. They left their homework in the car. They don’t think I told them there was a quiz. The basketball coach told them to tell me that the principal said that he read in the rule book that I wasn’t allowed to give them homework on game days. Honest. They swear.
But I wasn’t prepared for this.
I wasn’t ready for the harsh reality.
I never expected my students to lie to me about something so important.
When they told me that the miniature dragon that was guarding their medieval castle died over the weekend…I believed them.
“Hey, Miss F…do you think we could maybe present our history project now?”
I looked askance at the ringleader of the project group.
“Um, no. This is Homeroom. History isn’t until after lunch. Why?”
“Um…weeeellll….” she stammered. “We kinda left a miniature dragon guarding our castle over the weekend, and we kinda forgot to leave him any food. He might not make it until history class.”
“…I’m sorry…you left a what??”
“A miniature dragon. He guards our castle. He looks remarkably like a lizard. And he’s dying.”
About this time, I figured I had the gist of the situation. Also about this time, the bell rang. Unfortunately, the “dragon” would have to hold on for a few more hours.
“So…um…yeah. This is our castle. The drawbridge opens and closes for real and we had a dragon, but it died. See this dude in the water? The shark ate his legs off, so he’s kind of, like, drowning. And this other guy over here…he’s going to jump in and rescue him, but he doesn’t know that the shark is over here, so — ”
I interrupted the vastly entertaining and irrelevant story about the leg-eating shark. “So, the dragon didn’t make it? Is he still in there?”
The ringleader piped up, “No, we buried him outside. It was quite a lovely funeral. You should have been there.”
Later that Afternoon:
“Hey, Miss F…did you like our castle?”
“I did like your castle. Very well done. Too bad about the dragon, though.”
“Yeah, I know. We thought about having a guardian mouse instead of a dragon, but we didn’t figure that would be as ferocious.”
“I wouldn’t imagine it would be. And, you bring a mouse into my classroom, you’re getting an F.”
(Every year, I try to visit in the homes of my students. This particular evening, I happened to be visiting in the home of one of the castle project members. She, as I would learn, was the weak link.
Her mother and I were enjoying a pleasant conversation. We eventually meandered our way to the subject of history class and the truly awesome castle.)
“It was really very cool,” I said, unstinting in my praise. “They even had a dragon – well, a lizard – unfortunately, it died before history class.” I beamed at the weak link. I was so proud of their ingenuity and creativity.
Her eyes grew round.
“You believed us!!??!!” she shrieked.
“You actually thought we had an actual lizard??!! A real lizard??!!”
I was flabbergasted.
“Are you trying to tell me that you lied to me? All of you. Lied. To me. Is that what you are saying?”
She nodded. It was all she could do. She was nearly doubled over and mute from laughter.
“I can’t believe you believed us!!! I can’t believe you actually believed us!!”
“I can’t believe you lied to me!! But don’t worry…I’ll never believe you again.”
It was quite a while before she stopped laughing.
…Looking back, I can’t help reflecting that the ringleader never once cracked a smile the entire time. Not once. That girl has a future in show biz.