Friday, August 12, 2011

It was 4th grade...

We have survived the first week of school at our house.  The boys are now in kindergarten and for the first time, they are apart most of the day.  The decision to ask for separate classrooms for them wasn't easy. Then again, most parenting decisions are seldom easy.  Unless you are telling your child he has no use for an iPod at age 5.  Now that one is quite easy.

Candace is starting fourth grade, and happy-go- lucky as usual.   She has her best friends in class with her, the teacher she wanted, and life is as good as it can be, through the eyes of a nine year old.  

Every year, I pray they get good teachers.  Teachers who will not only teach them everything they need to know, but who will also make learning an exciting adventure.  I want them to have teachers like the ones I had,  teachers who will inspire them to never stop learning, who will make school a fascinating place and every school year an exciting one.

Most of my teachers were like that, with the exception of my 4th grade teacher.   She made quite an impression on me and for all the wrong reasons. 

By the time I made it to 4th grade,  I had good study habits and just LOVED school.  If they had told me I had to attend year round, I would have been the happiest kid on earth.  Learning and studying came easy for me because I had had such great teachers until then.

Fourth grade started like any other normal year for me until my teacher and I had our first "incident".  I still remember how the classroom looked, where I was sitting on that particular day, how much light was coming through the windows and the beautiful trees I could see on the other side of them. 

The teacher asked the class a question, and no one besides me raised their hand.  But she didn't call on me.  She simply ignored me and kept on with the lesson.  She asked a few more questions, and again, no one but me raised their hand.  She scowled and called on me.  I gave her the answer, and it so happened I was right.  

It was time for recess and as I was walking out of the classroom passed her, she pulled me back by my ponytail. 

She was a tall, hefty woman, and I was a tiny 9 year old, much smaller than Candace is.  Imagine for a second this woman, pulling on my ponytail, and holding my head back so she could look me in the eyes and say "You think you are very smart, don't you?".  
I vividly remember looking straight into her eyes, and replying "Yes, I AM smart", and the look of disgust in her face when she realized she had not intimidated me.
I went home and told my parents, and my dad went to school the next day to speak to her.  I'm not sure what all he said, but she never spoke to me that way again or put a hand on me.  She barely made eye contact the rest of the school year.  I still made As and was at the top of my class but the impression this woman made on me has remained even 28 years later.

Without knowing, she taught me a valuable lesson, how to stand up for myself, regardless of how formidable my opponent may be.  She didn't ruin my love for school, she didn't make me self conscious about my ability to learn and do well.  I wonder now if I did so well to prove to her I was smart and not afraid to show it.

I'm not sure what became of her, or if she ever treated another child the same way she treated me.  I surely hope not.  I pray no one ever does that to any of my kids either, or any child for that matter.

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