I’d hate to let this National Teacher Appreciation Day pass (yes, that's apparently a thing) without giving a shout-out to Mrs. Magnuson, my 1st grade teacher many, many years ago. I liked Mrs. Magnuson, but she was hard for a six year-old to get a read on -- she was kind and patient but she wasn't as ooey-gooey sweet as my kindergarten teacher had been, and being near the end of her run, she gave off the air that she'd seen it all and she wasn't in the mood to see much more.
Anyway: long before I arrived in her classroom she’d established a tradition of bringing each student to the front of the room on his/her birthday...so she could spank them.
I spent the majority of the school year terrified of what was to come, watching one by one as most of my classmates’ birthday floggings came and went, growing more anxious by the month...until finally April 3rd rolled around and I was called up to take my swats. I was a nervous wreck. As I assumed the position, Mrs. Magnuson, sensing my horror (though that probably wasn’t too hard to pick up on -- I never have had much of a poker face), leaned over and whispered in my ear, “Don’t worry, honey, it’s all a joke. Play along for the kids who haven’t had their birthdays yet, okay?” She winked, raised her arm, and proceeded to make the class count along as she theatrically pretended to whack me with her ruler seven times. Afterwards, she gave me another wink and sent me back to my desk for chocolate milk & cake.
Yeah, my family didn't do the whole "birthday spankings" thing (which, yes, is also apparently a thing).
Years later, when I learned words like "droll" and "gallows humor," I immediately associated them with Mrs. Magnuson and still do to this very day. Her humor was a little sophisticated for first graders, but I can't fault the lady for getting her laughs where she could.