In his latest “Dear Grandson,” Stan Gerding talks about moving around the San Diego area, furthering his career, and being called into the teacher’s office to discuss his son’s behavior.
Bud is back in school and doing very well in the second grade and still at Buena Vista Elementary. Something I forgot to mention about Bud’s school, he was on the year-round school and they ran the programs on a track basis. The kids went to school for 60 days and then off for 20 days. This seemed to be better for scheduling the school year and not so much as a benefit to the kids. One thing this type of school tracks did, though, was make it more conducive for learning and the literature out there shows the students do better in this environment.
I was into my second year and the 1st FSSG called me back to the unit for another operation. This time we were to be gone about a month and a half and we were going to be sea-going on LSTs (Landing Ship Tank).
The purpose of this training was to embark on the ship and then disembark the ship. We would be boarding the ships in San Diego and then heading out to sea for several training ops with other types of ships and then we would head to Red Beach in Camp Pendleton and disembark and practice a full-blown beach assault. The place where we were to have the beach assault is the same beach that I landed when I came back from Vietnam on the USS Colonial LSD. This operation was totally uneventful compared to my first op in 29 palms.
When I got back to the Group, we were sent back on our TDY orders; of course, mine was back to the hospital and the blood bank.
I was about halfway through my tour by now and getting ready for baseball with my Bud. This time the league we got Bud in was a swing from the pitcher, no more tee ball. He adapted extremely well, and I was told by one of the league officials that Greg was ready for the minor league of Little League and that I should just bypass him up from the Boys and Girls Club league to a local Little League chapter. I looked this league up and asked about his eligibility to the President of the league. He assured me that Greg could make the step up very easily as a not quite 7-year-old and do well. I got him all signed up and ready for the next season, but little was I to know that things would be changing in the very near future.
I had about a year and three months to go on this three-year tour with the Marines, when I got a surprise visitor to the hospital. It was LCdr Meyers from Advance Lab School, who drove all the way up to Camp Pendleton to visit with me. I felt honored that he came all that way just to visit with me. What was up?
He took me to lunch out in town off the base in a very nice restaurant. We were sitting there and out of the clear blue he asked me if I would like to come back to Lab School and teach. He must be kidding, and he assured me he was not and thought that I could do a great job and I could replace the Blood Bank instructor who was getting out of the Navy in about four months. I told the commander that I still had a year and three months to go on my tour in Pendleton. He knew all that and said he would be able to get my tour cut short if I would accept his offer. Without batting an eye, I said I would love to come back and teach. I always felt I could do a pretty good job at teaching and this would be my chance to prove it.
The next three months flew by and I was ready for the change, but it did mean new school for my Bud and a little change of plans for the upcoming baseball season. We moved to Mira Mesa and rented a home that was owned by a Master Chief who was on assignment in Guam on a two-year tour, so it seemed that I would have a two-year rental with him. I got Bud signed up in the Mira Mesa Little League in the Minors division.
In the meantime, I had to go to Naval Instructor School at the Navy Training Center in San Diego for a three-week course. Bud was enrolled at Sandburg elementary in Mira Mesa, an all-year-round school, so nothing was going to change for him. By the way, Mira Mesa is also the place where Miramar Naval Air Station is located and of course everyone knows that Miramar is known for “Top Gun.”
I finished up the Navy Instructor course and was on my way to Lab School and, just like the Commander told me, I would be teaching Blood Banking. I was able to shadow an HM2 Erickson through one three-month session to learn his method of teaching and, of course, get some pointers from this seasoned instructor.
Bud seemed to be doing fine in school, at least I thought he was, until I got a phone call at work from his school, requesting I come out to visit with his teacher. Oh no, is all I could think, what devastating act of aggression did he perform or who did he bully or… wait a minute, this is my son, he isn’t capable of something bad, and I kept telling myself that as I drove to Mira Mesa.
I got to the school and checked into the office and was told that Greg’s teacher would be right there. His teacher, who was extremely nice, came to the office and asked me to come to the classroom with her. School was over for the day and the kids were all gone.
We got to the classroom and I looked around the room and thought, What a well-kept classroom, she had aquariums and cages with little animals and all kinds of plants that were labeled. His teacher proceeded to tell me that, every day, about an hour before the last bell rings, she gives all her students these worksheets to work on in class and normally it will take the students a full hour to finish these sheets. She told me that Greg finishes these worksheets in about fifteen minutes and then he gets up out of his seat and walks around the classroom visiting with all the wildlife in the back of the room.
Now, I am a little confused, so I asked her, “Is he being disruptive and disturbing all the other kids?” “No,” she says. I asked, “Is his work correct and complete?” “Yes,” she says.
Okay then, he’s not disruptive and his work is good, what seems to be the problem here? She said he is not given permission to get up and walk around the room. I told her that there are several solutions to this “PROBLEM.”
“Give him more work to keep him busy, maybe he can help you with clean-up chores or I can tell him not to get up anymore until he politely asks you if he can get up.” She told me that she would give him more work to do and then he could help her with some minor chores. I figured she could turn his behavior into a positive.
As a parent, I felt this was a good problem to have with your child. Bud really liked his teacher and helped her everyday with small clean-up chores and his grades were excellent.
Baseball started and Bud also adapted well to the minor league of the Little League. He pitched and played shortstop and was pretty darn good with the bat.
Then came another setback. I was told that the Master Chief that we were renting from was returning to San Diego, the same day I found out that I was being promoted to Chief Petty Officer.
More later, Grandson.
Stan Gerding is the author of the book The Nam “Doc” A Navy Corpsman’s Story.