School Time Conspiracy

When you're little, your parents are omnipotent fountains of knowledge. Every word, every action, is the gospel.
Not only did my parents know everything, they were also pretty creative, especially my mother.
Which is why I wholeheartedly believed in Santa Claus until the 5th grade.

Now I believe in a different kind of Santa.
However, my mom didn't always use her powers for good.

The year was 1994. I remember that because I was eagerly anticipating the release of The Lion King...
But who wasn't?
...and my release from the confines of the classroom.

The school year was winding down, only one week lay between me and the freedom of summer vacation.

While driving to school one morning I made an offhand comment to my mom. And like a well-trained improv artist, she took the cue and ran with it.

Nine Year Old Me: "I can't wait 'till summer. These last few weeks take forever."

Mom: "Well you know why that is, don't you?"

Of course I didn't, so I asked what she meant.
Her expression never wavered, staying completely serious as she launched into the long and detailed story of:

According to my mother, the School Time Conspiracy worked like this:

"To adhere to legislative guidelines, there had to be a certain number of hours in a school year. But since school was only in session from late August to mid-June they tended to run short on the amount of hours required. Especially when things like snow days were factored in.

You mean it's not really a "free" day?
So in order to make up for lost time, a few hours were added to the school day during the last few weeks of school in order to meet legislative requirements. It was a more economical way to go because it costs less to have the lights, heat, and air conditioning on for a couple extra hours a day than for whole days at a time."

NYOM: "But how do they change all the clocks? It says 7AM when I go into class, same as here in the car."

My mother's response went something like this:
"In each school there is a master clock hidden somewhere, usually near the boiler room. The master clock is how the principles are able to control the other smaller clocks in each of the individual classrooms.
During recess or lunch when the kids are outside, the principle or a designated teacher will go to the master clock and move the hands as required to add more time to the school day."

In the area where I lived, one of our neighbors was a principle in a nearby school district. So I asked, "What about Mrs. McDonald? Does she control a master clock?"

"Yes. In fact, she was telling me the other day about how their master clock broke and instead of using a remote she has to manually turn the hands now."

"Is that hard to do?"

"It's not easy. Takes a lot of upper body strength."

"How big is the master clock?"

"Taller than you. It's a master clock you know."

I imagined Mrs. McDonald struggling to turn the hands of a massive clock somewhere deep within the school.
Apparently I also imagined her as an 1880's schoolmarm.
Mom's use of logical sounding terms like "economics" and "master clock" had me completely convinced.
Yeah, this sums up my feelings pretty well.
"Well, here we are. Have a good day hunny-bunny!" she chirped as we pulled into the school's parking lot.
Yup. That was me.
I arrived at school overwhelmed by the knowledge that had been bestowed upon me.
An idea began to take shape.
I would inform my fellow classmates. We would keep a close eye on the classroom clocks and catch the time jumps. The deceitful administrators would be caught in the act and somehow we would overthrow our oppressors by exposing the truth!
Indeed, I was like a tiny Karl Marx.
I told a few of my classmates. They were incredulous. Some straight up told me I was crazy.

"Nu-uh! My mom told me. So it has to be true!" I exclaimed defiantly.

One of my girlfriends compromised. She was one of the few kids responsible enough to be wearing a wristwatch.

"I know, we'll keep time with my watch to see if they move the clocks back," she said. Proudly flashing her pink Minnie Mouse timepiece.
Clearly she was one of the cooler kids.
It was a tense day. 
During recess we kept running past the classroom windows to see if we could get a glimpse of the clock hands moving back. The day was halfway over and constant monitoring of both the class clocks and my friend's Minnie Mouse watch revealed nothing suspicious.

At lunch time even my classmates who had believed me were beginning to express serious doubts.

NYOM: "No you guys. This is for real. My mom explained it all to me after I mentioned that the last week of school takes forever."
I was losing them.
NYOM: "Maybe the master clock puts out, like, a radio wave or something that affects watches too!"

And.... they were gone.
I came home to my mom frustrated.

"Mom! I told everyone about the School Time Conspiracy and we watched the clocks all day but nothing changed. Hey, the microwave time here is the same. Is this a worldwide plot?!"

"What are you talking about?"
What a strange child.
"Remember this morning when you told me how they added hours to the school day during the last weeks of class to meet requirements?"

"What? And... and you believed that?"
(Trying not to laugh...)
"Well... yeah."

Cue hysterical laughter.
Oh man, I've raised a gullible idiot.
And as she tried desperately to catch her breath in between laughs, it dawned on me.
There was no such thing as a School Time Conspiracy. I'd been duped! And now my friends thought I was crazy.

I love my mom. But she is an evil woman.

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