The note that came home from school with our oldest son gave me more of a belly laugh than feelings of butthurt.
It was yet another reminder of how things have changed from my Sultan, Wash., elementary days, when a friend and I “shot” critters in Outdoor Life with pencils that we jabbed through the backs of pages into the rug of Mrs. Gudmunson’s second-grade classroom.
Ah, times of yore.
Fast forward to the 21st Century and River’s teacher said she had had a talk with him about his choice of scratch paper to do some math homework on.
Of all the used pages I have brought home from work for he and his brother to do whatever with, he’d apparently picked one from another of our newsstand magazines that featured a couple paragraphs from a gun review and a pic of a box of .22 LRs on the other side.
Next time, he should choose paper without either, the teacher wrote.
As many of you may know, my real day job is magazine editor. In addition to putting together each month’s issue of Northwest Sportsman, I’m also the executive editor of our other three titles: Alaska Sporting Journal, California Sportsman and American Shooting Journal.
Really, executive editor is a fancy way to say proofreader, as I do a lot of proofreading around here.
A whole lot.
We try to give every article in all four mags at least three reads to make sure most of the words are spelt real good before sending them off to our press, so as you can imagine we generate a bit of wastepaper.
Several years ago now, I looked at that pile and realized that it was all still half good.
What’s more, River and his younger brother Kiran could use the unmarked side for their own devices.
So I began taking stacks and stacks worth home for them to draw on, practice their writing skills, make paper airplanes, cut up for snowflake decorations, scrunch up pages to throw at their brother and/or shoot baskets with, etc., etc., etc.
Out of respect for my wife Amy’s views, I am pretty careful with what comes home on the American Shooting Journal proofs; I grade away from firearms, but never considered that a pic of plinking bullets might raise a fuss.
Undoubtedly, the teacher was following something in the school district’s rules and regulations, but yi yi yi.
I recognize I’m not going to save the world by myself, but every two weeks our large-sized blue recycling can is full, from spring through fall our green yard waste bin is sometimes so heavy I worry it’ll get away from me as I wheel it to the curb, and at some level bringing home all those marked-up proofs for scratch paper must help save a tree — or at least a really thick branch or two.
Saving trees is pretty important to my wife and sons — and me, as they’re key for Northwest fish, wildlife and wildlands.
So I was pretty amused by the irony in River’s teacher’s note.
Try and do the right thing and you still get in trouble.
Be all PC and get trumped by the PC Patrol.
I don’t do towering moral outrage so well, but I am sure there are those who might be fuming by this little episode as the latest example of political correctness run amuck.
Can’t say I would blame you.
“I doubt you would have even heard about this if you were in Eastern Washington,” a friend texted me.
Hell, I joked back, “I would have had a new subscriber!”
Our former American Shooting Journal editor tacked away from emphasizing the enviro angle to my son’s instructor in favor of trying another positive approach with her:
“We could explain that there are people who use these tools to hunt for their food, hence negating the need for animals to suffer in feed lots their entire lives until they are slaughtered and promptly neatly packaged, so the sensitive folks can choose their protein without any idea where it comes from,” she wrote from a well-defended sailboat (pirates, beware!) adrift in the Sargasso Sea.
Actually, she had an even better idea:
“I would be interested to know what the repercussions would be if this event happened again. I am definitely the type of person to push back on something like this, not overtly, but in a ‘you can’t tell me what to do’ way, and just keep letting it happen. Maybe that is why my mother always shook her head and said ‘Life will be challenging for you.'”
Yeah, fine, we’ll make sure River doesn’t do any more homework on the back of gun reviews — but teacher never said anything about pages with pics of dead critters!
Indeed, instead of being all butthurt, this could end up producing a lot of laughs.
And besides, it could’ve been worse, as our current American Shooting Journal editor pointed out:
“Good thing you don’t work for Playboy…”