DEAR ABBY: I have been the principal of an elementary school for four years, and for the most part have been able to keep my cool except during those noisy lunch hours in the cafeteria.
Every January, our school takes part in a "Bound for Literacy" promotion to encourage reading. The promotion is usually capped off by (who else?) the principal kissing a pig, eating worms or some other bit of nonsense to honor the students attaining a reading goal. This year, my husband and daughter -- a fifth-grader at the school -- suggested a stunt to literally "tie in" with the promotion's name. I agreed to spend a lunch hour (two sessions) bound and gagged in a chair in the cafeteria if the student body read a total of 2,000 books. Of course, I knew they would reach that goal, so I had to gear myself for the noise I'd have to contend with on the appointed day. It would be a deafening racket.
Friday, Jan. 29, was the big day. Just before lunch, several PTA mothers armed with a bundle of jump ropes bound me securely, taped my mouth and hoisted me into a chair on a raised platform in the cafeteria. Then the children filed in. Of course, they giggled and waved -- but to my astonishment, the kids in both sessions were so quiet you could hear a spoon drop. I was amazed! One of the older children later told me, "We didn't want to take advantage of you while you were all tied up."
The following Monday, the noise levels returned to normal in the cafeteria. I have no desire to spend lunch hours bound and gagged -- but I have acquired a new tolerance for lunchtime noise, and I have definitely gained added respect for my pupils. -- BOUND FOR LITERACY, ABINGTON, PA.
DEAR "BOUND": After the "sacrifice" you made, I'm sure the respect is reciprocated. Not only are your students' strides toward literacy laudable, their exhibition of fair play is admirable. My congratulations to them.