Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cuticles, Kindness and Mrs Hiedenreich

Well...where to begin. Cuticles, Kindness and Mrs Heidenreich. Cuticles are the skin at the edge of ones fingernails just where they emerge from under your skin. I was told by a girl I dated a long time ago, (it's been 23 years since then) that I had really nice fingernails...for a guy that is. She then explained to me that it was rare to see guys whose cuticles were so well manicured.
Well, of all the things to be vain about I had never really considered my fingernails and in fact I had never really taken notice of my fingernails, but for some reason this girl had noticed and the entire time we dated she made a point of showing my hands to her girlfriends..."Oh so this is the guy with the cute nails" is not really what a twenty-one year old young man wants to hear from the ladies.
Anyway, the first time she mentioned this to me I explained to her that when I was in fourth grade in 1976 my teacher was a woman name Mrs Heidenreich...the name still brings chills. Mrs Heidenreich was old-old-school. A classic German woman, Authoritative and strict. Each morning she walked the aisles between our desks with her old pointer stick in hand. She never used that pointer for anything but pointing, but we all knew what she could do with it and we respected that greatly. As she walked the aisles we were required to have our hands on our desks palms down and she would inspect our fingernails to make sure they were clean. She had shown us all at the beginning of the school year how to push our cuticles back properly so that dirt would have no hiding place...and to this day I inspect my nails and cuticles as if a hundred year old Heidenreich might walk by with her pointer.
That was Mrs H's (dont tell her I called her that) last year as a teacher, she retired that year and we moved from the elementary to the middle school. But she has impacted me ever since.
I consider her actions then to have been a real and genuine kindness. She taught us respect for authority and she taught us to form some good habits, which in time brought complements and respect from others.
We were all told that she was mean, but truthfully...she wasn't mean. She never said a mean word to any of us, but she also got the best from us, because we respected her...even though we didnt much like her. But she was a good teacher. And behind it all was a heart of kindness played out in action rather than feelings and words.

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