Stuff I Learned From The Trauma of Going to Public School

mind mappingI recently discovered mind mapping, and my computer has quite a few useless charts saved on it. I have no idea why I am so intrigued by this small step up from the basic flow chart. Maybe it is the bright colors and myriad of shapes I get to choose from.

In an effort to justify spending the $30 on it, I “mind-mapped” one of the chapters in my book about stuff I learned in school. It took me less than twenty minutes to remember at least one very important lesson from each year of elementary school. I can’t even remember what I ate for lunch yesterday, and sometimes my kids’ birth dates get a little fuzzy in my memory. How’s that for traumatic?

I think childhood is the User’s Manual for each of our adult Books of Life. I know mine is.

Bird’s Life Lessons Learned During Elementary School:

Kindergarten: I did not go to kindergarten. Mom was getting divorced, remarried, pregnant, and all sorts

I missed that year. Explains so much.
I missed that year. Explains so much.

of other things, and the year came and went without her realizing I was supposed to be in school. No one had mentioned it to me, so I was blissfully unaware until I heard her mention her mistake to Rocky. Then I was pretty distraught. She soothed my fears telling me I was much too smart to have to worry about missing kindergarten. According to her, all kindergarten was good  for was to teach children to color in the lines. Since I still hadn’t mastered that particular feat either, it wasn’t much reassurance. I spent the summer coloring in every coloring book I could lay my hands on, beefing up for the first grade.

First Grade: I learned Mom was wrong about that coloring thing. These kids were much further ahead than I was, and not just in coloring. It would have been nice to have worked on some other skills like recognizing letters, numbers, and spelling my last name correctly.  Also, I learned that though both of my parents were creative people, I was absolutely not. I made Mom a card using brown construction paper with a doily pasted to the front, that I colored the exact same shade of brown, and wrote her name in black marker on the front and mine inside. Ugliest Card Ever.

being mexicanSecond Grade: I learned that I was not Mexican. Because I lived in Los Fresnos, Texas, near the border of Mexico, and Mom had brown hair and brown eyes, I assumed I was a Mexican like most of the kids in my class. I normally avoided being the center of attention, but for reasons that escape me, I argued with Miss Second Grade Teacher like my life depended on being right. When I finally had to concede that I may be wrong, I burst into tears and ran out of the class. The kids in my class called me Mexico for the rest of the year.

Third Grade: I learned that if someone shoved me into the boy’s restroom during recess, and then held the door shut so I couldn’t get out, my head would not actually explode from touching boy pee-cooties, nor would I actually be able to die from embarrassment….no matter how much I really wanted to. I also bullylearned that if I wanted to stop being targeted, I was going to have to fight back. One of my tormentors was a pudgy girl that was about a foot bigger than I was, both in stature and in girth. Clearly, I was no David when it came to my Goliath.  I hit her with my lunch box, spilling my lunch everywhere. I knew my attempt to make her respect me had failed when she not only burst out laughing, but she took my Twinkie …almost everyday for the rest of the year. I learned I was no badass.

Fourth Grade: This year was really illuminating. My family had moved to a large, magical house in the country, and I decided that I would much rather spend my hours after school playing with frogs and hiding Math Checkin orange orchards than doing homework. I hid my books in a drainage ditch after getting off the bus, and then picked them up again on the way to the bus stop the next day. Amazingly enough, this went on for quite awhile. Then, the rains came, and my books were ruined. I lamely tried lying about dropping them in a puddle, and earned myself a spanking on top of the weeks of detention and hours of completing overdue assignments. You’d think I would have learned, but I continued to do this all year long, until finally, Mom grounded me from playing outside the rest of the school year. That worked. Maybe because of my lack of enthusiasm about school, I’d fallen very behind in math. We were learning the Times Tables, and for some reason, I could not seem to keep up with the rest of the class. Back then, we learned multiplication by simply memorizing the equations. Memorization has never been a strong suite for me, and I was lost. I faked my way through for awhile, but then my deception was discovered, and I was dispatched to Special Ed math. I took that walk of shame daily. I “cured” myself by learning to write with my left hand. I’d read something that made me think this would fix me, and it did. At least, I believed it had. It also might have been that I finally understood the principle of multiplication. I’m sticking with the left-hand thing.

Fifth Grade: I learned where babies come from when Jose told a particularly filthy joke in class while our teacher had stepped out for a phone call. I swore to  the entire class of snickering kids that my parents birds and beeshad never done something so disgusting and perverse. Then, in what was becoming a tradition with me, I burst into tears and ran out of the class. The principle sent me home, and my Mom, eight months pregnant with her fifth child, and I, rode in silence almost all the way home. In the driveway, I finally asked her why she hadn’t told me. “I assumed you already knew. You’re 10 years-old, for God’s sake.” Nice.

Sixth Grade: A boy told me I always dressed like a homeless beggar one day at recess, but my long hair was okay. Unable to focus on the compliment part, I started obsessing about my clothes.  I was rocking my green jeans, with the pant legs stuffing into my worn-out, peeling brown zipper boots, and an orange shirt with lace on the sleeves. I was horrified clothesI looked like a beggar. More importantly, Mom was equally horrified. We went that evening to buy me new clothes. Mom picked out cute pink jeans, and other pastel colored shirts. I remembered then why I always wore the same clothes until they fell off my body. I hated looking like a large toddler.  I wore them for maybe a week, then I went back to my green jeans and boots. I knew in my heart I looked fantastic.

You should try doing this. See if you can remember one incident from each year of elementary school. I enjoyed remembering how big and  full of possibilities life seemed back then.

Have a great day!!

~ Bird



7 responses to “Stuff I Learned From The Trauma of Going to Public School”

  1. I’m going to take up the challenge to “remember one incident from each year of elementary school” but some of those years blur together for me so I might mix up exactly when certain things may have happened. Nevertheless – Good Post!


  2. I remember tripping on my big bell pants and landing face first in a mud puddle freshman year. Never wanted to go back. Had to. 🙂 Great post, Bird!


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