Today’s Blogtober Challenge is to share a favorite back to school memory. I thought about skipping today’s challenge and sitting this one out.
The thing is, I didn’t think I had a favorite back to school memory. As hard as I tried, I could not think of one happy memory from my grade school or high school years. Back to school time was miserable for me.
My dislike of school started early. I remember having a brief bit of excitement about school before starting kindergarten, but it disappeared after the first day.
Elementary school didn’t make any sense to me. I tried to be good, follow directions, and learn. However, I constantly got in trouble for things like talking, asking too many questions, not following directions, being too loud, or moving around too much. I was spanked by my kindergarten teacher.
In first grade, I had trouble with addition and subtraction. I raised my hand and asked, “When subtracting 3 from 10, does ten count as a number that is subtracted or do you start at nine?” The teacher looked at me like I was crazy. I consistently missed math problems by one number for some time after that.
In second grade, I had all A’s and B’s except for handwriting. I tried to do well in handwriting but failed miserably. The teacher said it was because I rushed through the assignment.
I badly wanted to make honor roll. The next handwriting assignment, I took my time and did my very best. I was proud of myself as I approached my teacher’s desk to have it graded. “This is it. I finally did it. I’m going to get at least a B.” I thought to myself.
I handed it to the teacher. She looked at it for a total of three seconds before scribbling a C- on top of it with her red pen. I held back tears as she lectured me about not being in such a hurry.
I think that was about the point I checked out. I rarely, if ever, did my homework my entire school career. I cruised through my classes doing the bare minimum. Sometimes, I’d make honor roll and other times I’d come close to failing. I couldn’t have cared less either way.
For some reason, they kept passing me through the grades. I assume it was because I tested well on the standardized tests.
High school was its own nightmare. In addition to my early acquired aversion to school, I had the social scene of a small private high school to contend with.
For starters, my insecure older brother and his friends had nothing better to do than taunt and harass me. In hindsight, I see they had the problem. But, that didn’t make things better for me back then. It was miserable to be ridiculed and laughed at constantly by that group.
I didn’t have the tight knit group of friends that often appear in adolescent movies. Does anyone? Other than wearing the same button down collar shirts and scratchy polyester plaid skirts, I had very few things in common with my classmates.
The administration was detestable. They arbitrarily enforced rules when it was convenient or if a loud or wealthy (sometimes both) parent got involved in a situation. The image of the school seemed to be a higher priority than the actual schooling it provided.
We did not have locks on our lockers and I constantly had things stolen. The missing items ranged from small things such as pens to the large (to a high schooler) like my twenty dollar bill. I complained to the administration about it several times. The response I received was, “Are you sure you don’t lose things? People don’t steal here.”
Like everyone eventually does, I did have a couple of excellent teachers. I suppose their classes were the reason I did not out right refuse to go to school all together.
Day after day, I went through the motions comforted with the knowledge that it had to end eventually.
After the required twelve years (thirteen if you count kindergarten), I had successfully jumped through all the hoops and graduated in the top half of my class of twenty six. My distaste for school had become so powerful that I didn’t want to go to college.
College was for other people, not me. I wasn’t intelligent and I didn’t want to be anything. All I wanted from life was to be happy and feel safe. School wouldn’t help with either of those things or so I thought.
A few years later, I fortuitously received an honors scholarship to a local community college based on my SAT scores. I had decided that I wanted to do more with my life but didn’t know what. The community college honors program was the first time I was ever happy in school. It was my awakening, my chance.
As it turns out, I do have a good back to school memory after all. Mine just happens to come much later than most. I loved my college education… almost everything about it. I loved the classes, being an RA (once I transferred to a four year school), the chemistry lab, and the friends that I made. By the time I received my degree, I had opened up to seeing and believing in possibilities. To this day, I still am and do.