When I was a kid, I attended my neighborhood elementary school. It was within walking distance of my house for a couple of years. We bussed it the rest of the years, even though it was close by. It was a small town…I rode bus 17. The driver’s name was Jill and she was mean.
I have many memories of us kids, standing at the bus stop, my wet braids frozen by the time I got to school. As they thawed, water would drip down the back of my shirt and down my back all morning, startling me.
I remember the anticipation at the end of summer, when we’d all head to the school on that one, warm, Sunday afternoon. The one Sunday afternoon when they posted The List. We’d frantically run our fingers down The List until we’d spot our name….and our teacher for the new school year. Now, being the youngest of three to attend the same elementary school, I had a pretty good idea of who I wanted for my teacher…but mostly, who I didn’t want.
5th Grade: The teacher I prayed daily that I wouldn’t get: Mrs. S.
Checked the list…the teacher I was assigned to: Mrs. S.
I cried and sobbed and cried and sobbed all the way to Sunday night church and kept crying on the front row. One of the deacons tried to console me, apparently the only way he knew how, which was, “STOP CRYING AND BEING SUCH A BABY.” I stopped crying. Until I got home.
Mrs. S. had a reputation. She was tall, thin – gangly, even, with a curly mop on the top of her head, a pointy nose, thin, almost non-existent lips, and wee, beady eyes. I’d heard she was rude, mean, sarcastic and not at all witty. Totally the opposite of what I wanted in a teacher (minus the sarcastic part…that doesn’t bother me if it’s not excessive and annoying, which…with her, it was). I’d encountered her a couple of times in the hallway and immediately felt like cowering against the wall as she passed by, glaring at me as if I were out without a hall pass or something. I’d heard her talk to her students and saw how she would belittle them, curse at them and make even some of the toughest boys cry.
And she was mine.
By the time the first day of school rolled around, I had decided to make the best of it, do my work, not raise my hand, and essentially stay under the radar. It worked for a little while and it might have kept working, if it wasn’t for…the mean girls.
To Be Continued…
**side story: one time, I was playing alone on the parallel bars.
you know...these things. and i almost looked as cool as this little girl in the picture. except with way cooler early-80's clothing.
They were located discreetly in the back field of the playground, away from the other equipment. I was probably in 3rd or 4th grade and they had taunted me for awhile until I finally got the courage to give ‘em a go. As my confidence grew (cringe), I liked to pretend that I knew how to do all the little tricks and flips that the older girls did, usually almost killing myself in the process, then standing up and dusting myself off before anyone noticed how I’d just gotten my shoelace stuck in the zipper of my jacket as I was attempting a double half turn somersault with a full pike (true story) (where were my friends?!?). One particular time, I fell underneath the bars, and as I tried to quickly recover and stood up as fast as I could, the back of my head connected with one of the bars, making a sound much like the one a metal bat makes when it is tossed to the cement after a homerun hit. Everything went black, and I went down. Knocked out. Cold. (This would not be the last time I would knock myself out on a metal object on school grounds, but that’s for Part 2). The good part? Knocking myself out exactly when the whistle blew for the end of recess and students ran inside, not noticing the Mary Lou Retton wannabe gonging herself on the head and laying out cold in the back field. The bad part? Knocking myself out exactly when the whistle blew for the end of recess and students ran inside, not noticing the Mary Lou Retton wannabe gonging herself on the head and laying out cold in the back field. It took them awhile to notice I was missing. It took them even longer to find me. By that time, I was awake with a ginormous goose egg on the back of my head, and was stumbling around the playground, trying to find my way back, all the while trying to act as normal as possible so no one wouldn’t notice what a dork I was. I’m a pretty bad liar apparently, because the school nurse called my mom to come get me with instructions to not let me go to sleep. My sweet mom never told a soul. As far as the other kids’ knowledge? Molly Murray just went home sick.