Sidney’s Coming of Age – Chapter 2

Facing the Challenge

It was six months later, and student giants took note of these changes too. Sidney was still the city slicker softie to them but his change in body and confidence had them pondering their next move. The spokesperson approached him.

“Bill wants to wrestle you at lunchtime, but I told him city kids are softies so he shouldn’t approach you or your parents will talk to the teacher, and he could get into trouble.”

Sidney smiled. He hadn’t been taught to wrestle by his uncle, but he was now quick and accomplished in boxing. He could try his luck at that and if he got a licking it couldn’t be worse than what his Uncle Jack had been doing these past months. If Bill looked like getting the better of him, he could resort to some of the martial arts tricks he’d learned.

“I’ll tell you what, I don’t want to get dirty wrestling as teacher will just give me another taste of the cane. Tell Bill I’ll fight him down behind the meeting hall where dances are organized once a month. Sounds like fun!”

The word spread like wildfire in classes and at lunch time teacher sat enjoying his meal and cup of tea wondering at the sudden lack of noise outside. He was unaware of the intended fight. He peeped over the veranda then shrugged. They better be back in class when the bell rings or there’s going to be a lot of sore hands this afternoon after I give the cane some action. He smiled in appreciation at the thought.

Down behind the meeting hall the whole student group gathered for entertainment. It was a rare treat but always welcome. Fighting for survival was built into these farm kids and no one took defeat as an insult. You were respected for trying. The bets were obviously in favor of Bill, and they marveled at Sidney who was so cool and collected as he waited for Bill to make the first more. Bill moved in swinging and Sidney danced aside and placed a well-aimed blow on Bill’s jaw. It was delivered with such speed and force Bill staggered for a few seconds then came in swinging again. Sidney quickly stepped out of the way and delivered a forceful blow to Bill’s chest. Bill gasped for air and the crowd gasped in disbelief. Now Bill was mad. He rushed in to grab Sidney and wrestle him to the ground as he had an inch above him in height and solid build that would probably have been in his favor if successful. Sidney moved like lightning with a martial art move and Bill lay on the ground gasping and confused. The students looked at each other in amazement. Sidney stepped forward and helped Bill to his feet.

“Thanks Bill, that was fun. Shall we do it again tomorrow?”

Back in class the teacher looked at Bill in surprise. “What happened to you Bill?”

“Fell of the veranda of the meeting hall.”

The students all looked at Sidney with admiration and teacher looked at him suspiciously.

“Sidney come forward we need to talk. Did you do this to Bill?”

“Yes, he did!” The class chorused proudly. He was their hero now.

Teacher gave him the customary six strikes on his left hand and the students rose in indignation including Bill.

Bill spoke. “Not his fault it was mine, so you have no business hitting him. Instead of using the cane on him why don’t you fight him? It’s because you’re scared and hide behind the cane.”

The teacher was angry. “Bill you can go home for the day, and I’ll be having a word with your parents about your insolence. The classroom emptied and followed Bill out the door, but Sidney went and sat in his seat and opened his study book for the afternoon. He felt good about himself now and it was great to see he was defended by all students. Teacher stared at the departing students in amazement. He turned to Sidney. Pack up your books as classes are over for the day.”

Saturday evening the monthly dance was scheduled and the chairperson for the student parents’ association called a meeting in the hall for two hours before the dance was scheduled to begin to consider an agenda item from their rural schoolteacher. While it was called parents association in fact everyone attending the dance turned up for such meetings considered part of their entertainment.

There were several items on the agenda concerning equipment needs and maintenance required. But item number one was a request from the teacher to dismiss Bill and Sidney from school for a disciplinary period. The chairperson listened patiently to the reasons for teacher’s request and without any further discussion a vote was taken. The actual discussion had already been conducted by the chairperson in her visitation with each student’s home and the consensus was teacher needed to be replaced and should be put on notice he should improve his method of discipline considered unnecessarily harsh. The vote was unanimous. The students were not to be disciplined in this way. The teacher looked around and read disapproval on the faces of all present.

Uncle Jack sought out the teacher afterward and confronted him.

“Every second day I note my nephew’s hand is severely bruised from caning. There is no justification for that kind of treatment of students. Maybe you could get away with it half a century ago but there are much better motivational tools for erring students you need to catch up with. What was the reason for you punishing him that day Bill picked a fight with him and came off second best? Did Bill make a complaint about that, and it seems Sidney was the underdog in size. Did you take that into account?”

“I don’t like your nephew’s attitude and he deserved what he got.”

Jack smiled. “I like that line of thinking because I don’t like your attitude so have decided you need a touch of discipline behind the meeting hall too.”

Teacher snarled. “Get your hands off me. I’m heading for the city to make a police complaint you’ve assaulted me, and I have lots of witnesses to back me up. I’ll see the education department declares your nephew persona non grata in any school he tried to attend.”

Jack delivered a well-placed wallop to teacher’s chest, and he doubled up in pain. Jack turned to the watching crowd nodding him approval while his brother Rick rushed in to restrain him.

“Anyone see an assault take place here? If not, I’m looking forward to the dance tonight. When does it start?”

“Didn’t see any assault Jack, it seems teacher fell on a chair and hurt himself. Let’s get started with the dance.”

Jack turned to the teacher who was dismayed to see all had turned against him. “My friend it so turns out the chief administrator in your government education department has a son who served with me on my last overseas military assignment. I wonder if you have the clout at that level to do what you threatened to my nephew. Perhaps you need time out yourself and a change of teaching location?”

That evening uncle Jack had a lot of attention from the local unmarried young women. They all arrived home early in the morning feeling satisfied with the evening activities and wishing their cows didn’t need attention within a couple of hours.

Soon after that event Uncle Jack took his leave to look for work further south. He hadn’t intended to spend so much time with his brother at the farm but saw soon after arrival his nephew needed his help in adjusting to the real world. Sidney was now a confident young adolescent and popular at school. Jack was confident his stay had been worthwhile.

Copyright Notice

© Copyright 2022 Ian Grice, “ianscyberspace.” All rights reserved

15 thoughts on “Sidney’s Coming of Age – Chapter 2

  1. This was a total switch from your other stories Ian. Having worked in schools ove4 the years I saw this kind of scenario a lot. This was an excellent foray into the world of education and teens.well. Rafted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. Though the story is fictional it draws quite a lot on our experience at the first farming district we moved to in the late 1940’s and some of the characters are described very accurately. 🙂


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