The One Time Losing My Temper Worked Out In My Favor

I thought I’d tell you a story about how I won a partial scholarship to Texas A&M, and how it really started with an

Buckholts Dry Goods
Buckholts Dry Goods (Photo credit: chickadee23) My mom actually worked for a little while at this store.. 🙂

argument I had with a Home Economics teacher in Buckholts, Texas my very first day at this new school. Most of the stories that include me losing my temper end rather badly for me, but this one had a good result.

As I may have mentioned, my stepfather was (and still, is) a high school sports coach by profession, and growing up, he moved us upwards of 36 times. Sometimes we returned to towns we’d lived in before, but for the most part, I’ve gone to a ton of different schools, and rarely stayed long enough at any of them to put down real roots or to even bother remembering the teacher’s names. The two exceptions to this rule was Harlingen, Texas, where I would always return to the Christian private school, and Buckholts, Texas, a tiny town with a tiny public school. I went to my first day of high school in Buckholts, and unusual for us, I actually stayed at this same school for two whole school years. Buckholts was the keeper of a lot of my “Firsts” memories…first boyfriend, first kiss, first time I shaved my legs, etc. You get the idea.

Ask anyone who knew me in Buckholts back then, you’ll probably find that most people only remember me in connection to my football/basketball/track coach stepfather, and very few will have any direct memories of me. I had long figured out how to blend in the background, and added to the horror show that was going on in my family life, I was just fine with being overlooked. There are a few exceptions, of course, but I wasn’t a blabber mouth then like I tend to be these days, and I always felt self-conscious about people noticing me. So, I was pretty forgettable.

Being a tiny little school, my choice of electives my freshman year was a pretty short list– Home Economics or Agriculture. Now, as tough as you might get the impression I am,  being a biker chick and all, make no mistake. I’m a girly girl. I like girl stuff like pretty clothes, fingernail polish, hair ribbons, and when I was little, playing house. I could keep up with the boys when it came to climbing trees or playing tag, but my preference was always to have tea parties and wear aprons. So, it was kind of a no-brainer which one I picked…Home Economics. Agriculture sounded like I would have to get dirty, and that wasn’t all that appealing to me.

The very first day, the Home Ec teacher, I forget her name, instructed us to write a bit about ourselves and our families and then read it in front of the class. Now, it was obvious that this was her very first teaching job, and she was youthful and exuberant about launching her chosen career. Frankly, I think she let all the new-found power she felt about locking down her first paid teaching job go to her head, and that coupled with the fact that she was probably at best, 8 years older than us, just set up the perfect storm for our first ever interaction with one another.

I wrote a generic piece about my family, choosing to not share any intimate details about my own father, or the crushing divorce that wounded my very soul, or how my mom’s remarriage had all but taken her away from me too…on and on. I, instead, wrote names, ages, where we had lived, and stuff like that. Nothing personal or detailed. My family life wasn’t a story I ever shared with anyone. Period. Just too heavy for a “What I Did This Summer” kind of assignment. That’s how I saw it, anyways. The Home Ec teacher, though, was expecting my full and unbridled participation….

The Home Ec teacher, who was a big, somewhat notorious town gossip, had already heard the scoop about the new coach and his family over the summer, and she already had in her mind what she was expecting me to say. When I didn’t go into the gory details, not mentioning the divorce at all, she called me out immediately..and very publicly.. about not telling her and the class about my real father and how Coach was just my stepfather. She grilled me about my real father, a subject that had long been forbidden to talk about at home, right in front of the whole class!! I could feel the tears and hot embarrassment climbing from the pit of my stomach up towards my face. I could feel all eyes looking at me, and the shame at the thought of breaking down crying in front of these people was intense.  She accused me of being  misleading and dishonest in my report and she didn’t appreciate me not being more open with her and my fellow classmates. She was trying to sound authoritative, but all I could hear was that snarky, gossipy whine in her voice, and I could feel the rage building up. Seriously. What stones…!!!!

I think you know exactly how I reacted. First, I hated attention, so getting called out by the teacher in front of a bunch of kids I didn’t know,  on my very first day of high school was distressing, to say the least. Second, I don’t owe anyone an autobiography of the mess that was my family, and especially not about the dad I had installed on a pedestal in my mind, and who I had been forbidden to talk about at all, and third, if she made me cry in front of these people, I would die of humiliation..Just what exactly did any of my life history have to do with baking a damn cake or sewing together some random pieces of material into a quilt?? My mind groped for what this teacher could have possibly been thinking to get so incredibly personal with me, and in front of all these strange kids,  when we didn’t know each other at all, but nothing came to mind that could explain this behavior. My mind still reels at the audacity!

I remember my temper flaring up in what can only be described as Blackout Range, and I went off! I can’t even remember exactly what I said, but I do know that I was yelling, mainly because she had embarrassed me, and I wrapped up my tirade by dramatically ripping the stupid report in half, throwing the pieces on the floor, and telling her next time, she could just keep her nose out my beep-beep business. Then, I marched out of the class room, head held high, quick as I could.  Feeling the blaring red heat on my cheeks, I knew I was about to break down in tears, and not wanting the other classmates to see me cry, I beat a hasty retreat. I didn’t want to have been THAT girl… you know, the one who cried on her very first day of high school, at a brand new school. I’d never rebound after that. I’d be bully- fodder for sure if that got out….

I went straight to the gym and found my stepfather, half crying and half yelling my story out to him, in front of yet another group of kids I hadn’t met. I was making all kinds of first impressions that day. It was a gym, so there was nowhere to go that was private, and my rage was at such a level, I didn’t even care who heard me anymore. He listened, a confused look on his face, and then he escorted me to the principal’s office, the whole time not saying one word to me…As we entered the office, we came face to face with the  insulted teacher, evidently  pouring out her side of the tale before the new coach’s kid could cause too much damage. She sounded just as gossipy then as she had in the classroom, and I could tell from the principal and my stepdad’s faces, they were unsure how this strange incident had gone so terribly wrong in such a big way, and on the very first day of the school year, no doubt.

Now, in the entire time I’ve ever known my stepfather, I have never seen him get angry on my behalf, or even stick up for me in any kind of verbal assault. We aren’t close, and never will be. But this time, he seemed a little bit out of sorts with the nosy teacher, and he became brisk and authoritative. He politely informed the Home Ec teacher that she had overstepped her bounds, and that what we chose to share with people about our family was our business, and not something we owed to practical strangers or something we should be graded on, and he told the principal that he wanted me pulled from that class and put in to something else. Then, he abruptly left the office, leaving me standing with a confused principal and a nervous, panicky Home Ec teacher that had finally realized she’d misread the quiet new girl to a very large degree and maybe let her mouth run a bit excessively for her own good comfort… Not an auspiciousness start to the new school year for any of us, really.

The principal immediately walked me to the Ag Shop, and introduced me to my new teacher…an old man, with a missing digit on one hand. Yes, a total cliché, but completely true. And that was my first day taking Agriculture. For the two years in Buckholts, and the remaining years that I moved from high school to high school, I stayed in Agriculture programs as much as I was able. I raised chickens for FFA, and won Grand Prize, second, and third places at a major stock/rodeo shows, and earned myself a partial scholarship to Texas A&M, plus over $5000 selling the butchered chickens to Golden Fried Chicken in Cameron, Texas. 🙂

English: Tandy Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 4P
English: Tandy Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 4P (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was FFA Sweetheart, twice, and FFA Vice President one year. I used my first home computer in Ag class, and wrote a simple DOS program on a TRS-80 that helped me place in District contests for Agriculture, FFA, and UIL. Later, I would go to tech school to learn computer programming. I ended up learning how to build a table, construct a birdhouse, weld, and most of all, I learned that I am not skilled in the art of building things with my hands, welding, putting together pre-fab birdhouses, or balancing a table. But, I loved every minute of it… I wouldn’t trade those memories for all the world. 🙂

So, I can’t stay mad at the nosy, pushy, gossipy Home Ec teacher any more. I have a million wonderful memories attached to FFA, Agriculture, 4H and all those shop skills I sucked so badly at, and I can’t imagine how baking cakes and sewing clothes would ever have been able to compare. All in all, it was one time my temper actually worked in my favor.

— Bird

30 responses to “The One Time Losing My Temper Worked Out In My Favor”

  1. What a wonderful story. What a happy ending. I’m glad you trusted us with your family trauma. There’s something about blogging that gives us freedom to share – plus growing older. The older I get the more obvious it becomes, as your blog title says, Everyone has a story!


    • Yes, I certainly have grown to be more least on the internet, anyways. There are still tons of people in my real life that have no idea about my life. 🙂 Easier to write about it then talk about it, I guess.


  2. Thank you for reminding us that while it may be the meek who shall inherit the Earth, it’s the no-bullshit taking people who get the scholarships. I love this story, mainly because like you, I can’t suffer fools and gossips and intrusive, gossipy assholes who seem to think they have a right to tell me how to behave! 😉


    • 🙂 I still feel the indignation I felt when that teacher flipped out. Some feelings make such an intense mark on you, you never forget them!


  3. Sometimes you need to have that moment then people will know..”we shouldn’t mess with her” lol!


  4. Are u still that angry liitle girl? if yes, please tell us to take cover before ur explosion! 😉
    jokes apart, I can feel what it is like to be questioned on deep family matters. Ears go hot and red and all that stuff.. Nyway, u handled it well! 🙂


  5. this is what i was talking to you about earlier, that i want to be just like you. i have prayed much and often today, asking God to give me the correct words to make my stories be understood, and to write about subject matter that can be a part of not only me but someone else’s. i do believe i was put on earth to be a part of a healing team, but i need more spunk like you have. one prayer at a time. i also, have said things on my blogs that even my children know nothing about.


    • I think I understand what you are saying. Maybe we can pray that God will give you a spirit of courage tempered with His wisdom. I have the courage part down, but sometimes my reactions don’t bring about the will of God…only another big mess for me to clean up. I pray for His wisdom, so I will better understand how I should approach a problem, instead of jumping in the middle of it with guns blazing… Self-confidence will come the closer you draw to the Lord, and from that self-confidence, you’ll be able to stand and defend against those who don’t agree or just want to muddy the waters.
      Weird about sharing on a blog, huh? I would have guessed a year ago that I’d take my secrets to my grave with me, but it gets easier and easier to share the longer I blog. I write most of mine with my kids in mind, but I’ve always tried to be extremely honest and up-front with them, so I doubt they’ve read anything that has surprised them. I’m sure I would have heard about it by now, if they had.
      You know, Terry, I already see you getting more outspoken and opinionated (in a good way) than you were when I first started following your site. I think God is actually answering your prayers. You stand by your decisions more, and I’ve seen you gently disagree with people. I think you’re on your way.. 🙂


  6. What a story….I can picture it in my mind and as embarrassing as it was for you…it seemed that God made lemonade out of lemons…maybe not the best analogy but things did work out for you after all!…Diane


  7. That teacher was so insensitive! I just can’t imagine doing that to a young person, in front of everyone. Wow. But, I totally loved how it turned out for you in FFA! What a blessing! God bless you, Bird, as you share what He wants you to , when He says it’s okay to do so!


  8. Great story! Yes, that teacher overstepped her boundaries, big time, and did it in a way that shouldn’t have even been attempted. I’m quite surprised that you didn’t use humor to put her in her place…lol…but I understand that usually a sense of humor to deal with things tactfully usually comes with a lot more age and life experience. Thanks for sharing this part of your life, Bird!


  9. Wow, and thank the Lord for difficult situations and even people who challenge us to move ‘past’ them to real greatness. thx for the ‘boot to my backside’ as you encourage me to do the same.
    ps, mr classen, my shop teacher in Hoisington ks also was ‘digitally challenged’, but not because of his lack of computer skills.



  10. A ‘girly girl biker chick’ – I love the breaking of stereotype. I’m horrified at that home ec teacher. I grew up in a few small towns (several different schools, as we moved around a bit also) and it does seem like some people in those small towns feel like everyone’s business is their own.

    Good for you for speaking your mind. I have a feeling I would have been too shy to find any words and I would have been dubbed “The Crier.”


  11. I was glued to every word. I admire the way you write – from the heart and with complete honesty.
    I know our great and amazing God will continue to bless you and use you to bless many others as you continue to look to Him.


  12. Dear Bird,
    I stumbled onto your blog because I was reading “A Southerner Abroad” and enjoyed your comments so much I clicked on your name. This is a great story, very well written – you really put me there in the mind of a 14 yr old girl (I’m a 68 yr old man). I’m going to read a lot of your other stories and have signed up to follow your posts. Thanks for all the good reading.


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