Legal Quandary

Monday, March 07, 2005

O'Doyle Rules!

THL requested a post on my worst elementary school memory. But it has to be school related. I wasn't sure if this meant "related to things I was actually supposed to be learning in elementary school" or "things that happened while generally confined to school grounds."

As far as the first one goes, my elementary school days were relatively carefree. Aside from periodic bouts of severe procrastination (I pulled my first all nighter as a fifth-grader), I was a good student, and didn't have any trouble with the academic aspects because let's face it, grade school really wasn’t very hard. I distinctly remember coming home from my first day of first grade and informing my parents that "I was the smartest kid in the class." Although they told me not to brag, they really didn't try to disabuse me of the notion. And honestly, I'm not entirely convinced it wasn't true.

You'd think that being a pint sized smarty pants would have been a problem for me, but it didn't really become an issue until quite a bit later.

So here's a couple of my bad experiences that happened on school grounds. Most of them are the result on some level of being the only child of freak parents and having no social skills. You decide which is episode is the worst. I guess I lean toward the last one.

In the third grade, I was one of the victims of school bussing. Although I lived less than a mile from an elementary school, the powers-that-were decided that putting middle-class white kids onto a bus for a 1/2 hour every morning and sending them into the heart of the ghetto sounded like a pretty good idea. Let me assure you it was not. Nothing in my young life had prepared me to deal with these kids. It was a culture shock in every sense of the word. The worst was this huge girl named Yolanda. She was enormous and took an immediate disliking to me. Mighta had something to do with the whole smarty pants thing, but maybe not. Every day on the playground was just another chance for Yolanda to torment me. Playground taunts in rhyme, being pushed off the high bars, and having portions of my lunch forcibly taken were all standard fare. After one of my "falls" from the high bars, I told the teacher without thinking about the possible consequences of this action. You see, Yolanda's mom was one of the lunch patrol ladies and was about 6 times as large as Yolanda. She cornered me in the lunchroom a few days later and demanded "why did you lie on my Yolanda?" I had no idea what she meant - I'd never lain on her child - or even seen her lying on the floor. But I wisely elected to just keep my mouth shut and got the heck out of there.

In the fourth grade, we moved to Virginia while my dad went to a military school. Once again, I was bussed to a school in the not-so-great part of town. (At this point, I have to say I have my doubts about how much my parents truly valued my education). This is the first time I learned about cliques and that some people could be intentionally mean. A bunch of us were walking to orchestra class together and the other 2 girls in the group were talking. They were fifth-graders - I was the only fourth-grader in orchestra. I guess I felt I knew something about whatever it was they were discussing because I piped up with my two cents worth. They both laid into me for "butting in" on their conversation uninvited. I didn’t even know there was such a thing among children. This is about the time I learned that you can pick up a lot of information in the world by just pretending you're not listening. Painfully acquired, but a generally useful lifeskill.

Sidenote: After Virginia, my mom and I moved to Germany to take care of my Oma, and I attended a German gymnasium. I'd never ever written in German before, although I spoke it pretty well. It was definitely challenging, but I had a blast. Most of the kids were really nice - and as a fifth-grader, I was taking algebra, biology, physics and English. Not because I was special - that was just the standard curriculum. Oma eventually got better, and we went back to Nebraska.

This is where I learned that even people you'd spent years around could be mean to you on purpose. We moved back to Nebraska in the middle of winter. I'm not exactly sure what happened, but most of my winter clothes ended up taking several weeks to get to us. In the meantime, I had to go back to school. Because of the shortage in winter clothes, I ended up wearing this pair of snow pants (navy blue - the overall kind - I LOVED those pants!) a couple days in a row. As we were headed back from recess one day, one of the boys pointed and in a voice that was loud enough for other people to hear, said "Hey! Didn't you wear those yesterday? What are you - poor?" *ouch* You know, I don't think I wore those pants ever again.

Sorry for not being clear - you were right, I meant something bad that happened while you were confined to school grounds. Having experienced similar things to both of your stories, I'm not sure which one is worse, but it's safe to say they both suck. Thanks sharing! :)
Or thanks FOR sharing. Geez, it's too early for me.
Ouch. I hated being a kid. The large woman asking "why did you lie on my Yolanda?" sounds scariest to me, especially when you don't even know what the question is.
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