The Night That Changed My Life

By Dr. Robert Wallace

May 22, 2019 5 min read

DR. WALLACE: I'm responding to the girl who was put under a lot of pressure to be a party girl. So far, she has said no, but her resolve is weakening thanks to her best friend who has convinced she's missing out on a lot of fun and good times. Several years ago, I was in the same situation.

At first, I had a spectacular time. I experimented with alcohol, tobacco and drugs and had my first sexual experience.

After one night of heavy partying, my best friend and her boyfriend got into an automobile accident. My best friend survived, but her boyfriend was killed instantly. An inquiry into the crash revealed that he was quite drunk at the time of the collision.

The night I heard this horrifying news, I made my mind up, right then and there, that my party days were over. I got my grades back in order, went on to earn my college degree, and I'm now teaching third grade. I met a wonderful guy in college who is now my loving husband and a father to our three-year-old daughter. Every night, I say a prayer of thanks that I was able to make it through a wild and troublesome part of my life without major consequences. — Elementary Teacher, Columbus, Ohio

ELEMENTARY TEACHER: Thank you for your message. I can tell it comes from the heart about the downside of the party life, as per your own life experiences.

I'm sure many young readers will pay attention to your words of wisdom. Sadly, it often takes a tragedy to make teenagers realize they aren't invincible.


DR. WALLACE: I just finished my freshman year of high school. My grades included one A, three B's, one C, and one F. My F came in English. I absolutely despise my English teacher.

Once, I corrected her grammar in class. She said, "The animals at the zoo has a good home." I raised my hand and told her that she made a serious grammatical error and should have said, "The animals at the zoo have a good home." She seemed upset but admitted her error.

After class, she told me never to correct her in front of the class again. She said that if she made a mistake, I should talk to her privately instead. I'm very good with grammar because I had a great English teacher in the eighth grade. I deserved the F because I stopped doing all of my homework in English and failed all of my tests on purpose, in protest of her attitude and how she came down on me.

My problem is that now I have to take ninth grade English again in summer school to make up for my F. Two teachers are teaching ninth grade English this year for summer school, and my counselor assigned me to the English class being taught by the very same teacher I corrected. I asked to be changed to the other teacher but was told that no transfers were allowed.

Now what can I do? It would be a total waste of time for me to take English again from my "archenemy." — No Pet to Teacher, via email

NO PET: Have a parent (or two) talk with the counselor or the school principal to explain why a change of teachers is necessary. I'm pretty sure a change will be made if the background can be properly explained. To place you back with the teacher who gave you the failing grade (which you richly deserved, by the way) is unwise for her, the school and you as well.

Teachers are human, and humans are prone to making errors. Your teacher could have handled your correction of her grammar better, but purposely failing the class was a very stupid move on your part! If you are able to take English from the other teacher this summer, I trust you will be on your very best behavior and will hold your tongue if your sharp ears catch any further grammatical errors.

Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: jarmoluk at Pixabay

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