Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Purple Pig Incident

Those who know me know that I grew up on a farm. There are many things a farm kid just learns by osmosis--without being told. Often, by a certain age, these commonly known facts have migrated to the land of common sense.

Like the color of hogs.

Dad had a few hogs while we were growing up, but he last raised pigs when I was in junior high and it may even have been before that. The time really is not germane to this story, but the older I get the more I realize that Neills tend to be cattle people and not hog people. But that's a story for another time.

I knew that hogs were usually brown, white, black or any combination thereof. I had never seen a green or purple pig.

Fast forward to kindergarten.

My teacher, Mrs. Wear, gave us a worksheet that was to teach us recognition of shapes and our colors. We  were all farm kids, so most likely in addition to cars, houses, and other items there were farm animals. Our directions were to color the pig purple. This would show Mrs.Wear that we knew what a pig was and that we knew what color purple was.

Fine, I did as I was told. I got out the purple crayon and (within the lines) I colored the pig purple. I got a star or a smiley face on the paper--after all, I knew my colors and my animals.

When my Dad saw the graded paper that night, he was not happy. Didn't I know that pigs were not purple? After all, we had some in the lot south of the house. Not a purple one in the bunch. I was nearly in trouble until my mother (an elementary teacher for forty years) told my Dad that I was told to color the pig purple by the teacher--to show I knew my colors and my animals. Everything was good.

My Dad was always very concerned about my schoolwork and I think the "purple pig" incident was the only incident  of this kind. When I was very small, we did addition and subtraction problems using pigs. "If I have eight pigs and I sell two, how many do I have left?" I can remember that's part of how I learned my basic facts---pig math. And none of those pigs were purple.

Now that I think about it, the pig might have been green--I never was very good with colors.